ESPN Makes Life Difficult for CBS

2 April 1999
As the phenomenon of Internet gambling gains widespread global attention, the mainstream media are slowly discovering that the “Wild West” industry has a few corporate ties here and there.

NCAA Executive Director Cedric Dempsey was reminded during an ESPN interview aired last week that CBS television, which has a broadcasting partnership with the NCAA for the men's basketball tournament, has a business relationship with an Internet sportsbook.

Ouch. Since the NCAA is well known for its hard stance against all types of gambling, Dempsey wasn’t too thrilled when the subject came up. "At this point, there's not much we can use other than persuasion," Dempsey told ESPN. "Maybe in the next go-round in our (television) negotiations we will be able to be a little stronger on that issue."

The sportsbook referred to was, which operates under a URL owned by Sportsline USA, which is which is 18-percent owned by CBS.

CBS sought rectification shortly after the interview aired by announcing that the company will sell off its ownership of the web address. The network issued a news release explaining that it was unaware of Sportsline USA’s relationship with “The network has taken immediate action,” the company stated. ”Sportsline USA has assured CBS Sports that the URL currently leased to will be sold."

The domain is home to a lucrative sportsbook operated by Margarita Island-based Global Internet.

Some food for thought:
ESPN admitted in its report that it also has a relationship with a sports betting entity: The network owns SportsTicker, a company that sells news updates to oddsmaker Jim Feist. Feist then packages that news with betting lines and sells it through his own ticker service. The report pointed out, however, that ESPN, unlike CBS, doesn’t receive money from an offshore sportsbook—a conspicuously defensive statement. Keep in mind that ESPN has a partnership with ABC, which is obviously a rival of CBS.