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Kevin Smith

SportsLine Cuts Last Tie to Gambling

3 December 2003

A group of private investors from the Las Vegas area agreed last week to pay an undisclosed amount to assume ownership of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a B2B information network that powers many of the licensed sports books in Nevada.

The group includes Nevada lawyer Ellen Whittemore, who specializes in gaming law and regulation; her husband, real estate attorney Jeff Patterson; her brother David Whittemore, also an attorney; and Ken White, a long-time Las Vegas handicapper. The group announced this week that White would assume the role of CEO for the new company.

The sale completes nearly a yearlong process of Inc.'s severing of ties to the gambling industry. The company was asked to dissociate itself from the industry after a billion-dollar agreement was reached in February for the company to manage and produce

The agreement was signed in conjunction with the NCAA extending its broadcasting deal for its Men's Basketball Championship Tournament with CBS.

Media conglomerate Viacom Inc., and its CBS television network, own about 40 percent of SportsLine's shares. Part of the deal with the NCAA was that SportsLine would no longer have gambling-related businesses under its control.

David Whittemore said it was no secret that SportsLine wanted to divest itself of gambling related business, and his group negotiated the best deal for everyone involved.

Although his sister has vast experience in the interactive gaming industry--she spent time at Action Online--David said plans are to continue operating Las Vegas Sports Consultants as a B2B operation for the land-based sports book industry in Nevada.

"At that moment that is our business plan, but who knows what will happen on down the line," he said. "We just want to keep the relationships that we have, and maybe even build some new ones within the licensed sports book world of Nevada and that is where Ken White will play a huge role for us."

LVSC joins a handful of gambling-related services to change ownership since the publicizing of a jury investigation into the advertising practices of online gambling business in September. Whittemore said he was unaware of the investigation and that it was unlikely that LVSC had been subpoenaed because the company dealt strictly with licensed operators in Nevada and had no relationships with offshore sports books.

LVSC provides sports books with opening lines for games and then provides them with a computer connection showing real-time odds as they fluctuate. "We have a very limited market actually," Whittemore explained.

For now, there are no plans to enter the I-gaming space. The company will monitor developments in Nevada as regulators study the concept of regulating online casinos and sports books. That process hit a snag in August 2002, when the U.S. Department of Justice informed the Nevada Gaming Commission that regulating I-gaming would violate federal law. (Enabling legislation passed in Nevada in 2001 clarifies that the commission can only regulate I-gaming if the federal government permits it to do so.)

The NCAA, the governing body for U.S. collegiate sports, takes a hard line against gambling because it fears being tainted by organized crime and other illegal gamblers who prey on impressionable students.

SportsLine, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in June sold gambling enthusiast Web site,, to Sports Information a British company as part of its efforts to focus on its deal with the NCAA. SportsLine also manages sites for the National Football League and its 32 teams, and the PGA tour. provides sports information, news and analysis targeted toward consumers interested in gaming.

SportsLine and the group of investors agreed to keep the selling price of LVSC confidential.

For White, the appointment of CEO completes a long career through the ranks of sports handicapping and the bookmaking industry. White has spent the last 15 years as an independent consultant to several of the top sports books in Las Vegas.

In 1995 and '96 he won the prestigious Stardust Invitational handicapping tournaments, and at the age of 40 is just now hitting his prime in terms of business experience.

White is a Las Vegas native who started working for his father in the 1970s, publishing sports statistics magazines and books. He then went to work at the Santa Anita sports book in 1984 when he turned 21.

He worked his way up through the ticket-writing circle at Santa Anita to become the No. 1 ticket writer and also worked as a cashier and phone teller before being named at he sports book manager at the Freemont in 1986. In 1988, he branched out on his own as an independent consultant.

When White heard CBS was being forced to sell LVSC, he wanted to get his hands on it. He said the long and storied history of the service in Las Vegas, dating back to its founder Roxy Roxborough, was worth keeping around.

Talks between White and SportsLine started July, and shortly thereafter he called on Ellen Whittemore, his attorney, to form an investment partnership.

Whittemore will be the president of LVSC, with White and David Whittenmore as vice presidents and Patterson as treasurer.

All four partners will need to be licensed by the state and are in the process of filling out the 70-page application forms.

SportsLine Cuts Last Tie to Gambling is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith