SportsLine sells VegasInsider to UK buyer

Jun 24, 2003 8:53 AM

Months of speculation over an uncertain future have finally ended for, thanks to a London buyer.

Sports Information Ltd., an operator of sports gaming information websites in Europe and Asia, announced on Monday it had purchased (VI) from CBS Inc. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Based in Las Vegas, provides sports wagering information, handicappers’ selections and links to off-shore sports books. Subscription rates vary, but average about $250 per year.

" is the big daddy of sports gaming sites in the United States," Joe Saumarez Smith, the CEO of Sports Information Ltd, and president of VI told Âí­GamingToday from his London office late Monday. "My five-year plan is to make VI the No. 1 global sports information site."

VegasInsider became available for sale in February, when CBS SportsLine announced it had struck a broadcast/Internet deal with the NCAA. Although not mentioned as part of the agreement, SportsLine announced it would divest itself of VegasInsider, and another of its holdings, Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC).

Also based in Las Vegas, LVSC is the odds-making company founded by Michael Roxborough, and provider of most of the betting lines in Nevada.

LVSC was not part of the VI purchase, and its future remains in doubt, since SportsLine said it wanted to dispose of both gaming-related entities by late summer 2003.

Smith said the timing was right to buy VegasInsider.

"The English government has changed its legislation so that the UK can be a central point for the gaming market," Smith stated. "It made sense to buy the best site in the U.S.", which has offices in Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, is known as one of the highest-traffic websites in the industry with nearly 60,000 daily visitors generating 600,000 daily page views, according to SportsLine figures.

Sports Information Ltd indicated in a press release that existing management and key staff at would be retained.

However, GamingToday learned that SportsLine fired VI managing editor Barry Daniels and sales manager Mark Franco last week.

"That was SportsLine’s decision," said Peter Gold, director and general manager at, when reached in Fort Lauderdale. "I’ve seen reports that five employees were released. I just want to clarify that it was only two, and that the new owners had nothing to do with the changes."

GamingToday tried to reach Daniels and Franco, but neither was unavailable for comment at press time. and Las Vegas Sports Consultants were each purchased three years ago by CBS from San Diego-based Data Broadcasting Corporation.

Gold said it might be more difficult to find a buyer for LVSC.

"It’s a completely different ball of wax, since any purchaser of LVSC would have to get licensed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board," Gold said. "The nature of the two businesses is also completely different. VI is allowed to be capitalistic, whereas LVSC is heavily regulated and told who it can and cannot do business with."

Gold added, however, that the task wasn’t impossible.

"I think LVSC is about a month away from being sold," Gold said. "I have (SportsLine’s) commitment that they will continue to operate LVSC and not shut it down, even if it means going back to the NCAA for an extension of time to sell the company."

The operators of LVSC are not so sure.

"We’re not sure what will be happening with LVSC and really can’t comment on the matter," Pete Korner, LVSC operations manager, said last weekend. "It’s business as usual until we hear otherwise."