CBS Was Once Involved In Online Gambling

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/01/2008

The following is an editorial piece related to this past weekend's 60 Minutes segment on an Internet poker cheating scandal.

The 60 Minutes piece that proclaimed more than once that "online gambling is illegal in the United States and Canada" also failed to mention that its parent company had been part of the industry some years back.

As a quick recap, the segment honed in on a cheating scandal involving a popular online poker room, Absolute Poker, as well as its sister site, UltimateBet.

CBS, which airs the popular investigative news magazine, owns CBS Sportsline.  Folks involved in the sports betting sector are well aware of the controversy that surfaced earlier this decade when CBS Sportsline was forced to sell off its sports handicapping website, VegasInsider.com.  It's no secret that VegasInsider.com promotes gambling on sporting events. 

Sports Information Ltd., an operator of sports gaming information websites in Europe and Asia, purchased VegasInsider.com (VI) from CBS SportsLine.com Inc. in June of 2003.

Based in Las Vegas, VegasInsider.com provides sports wagering information, handicappers' selections and links to off-shore sports books. Subscription rates vary, but average about $250 per year. "VegasInsider.com 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 said at the time of the purchase. "My five-year plan is to make VI the No. 1 global sports information site."

That it has become for sure.

VegasInsider became available for sale 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.

CBS also enjoys a cozy relationship with the National Football League and the NFL has made it clear they do not want online gambling to be legalized.  Whenever there is an effort to quash the activity one can almost rest assured the NFL has some role, whether it's through big name New York law firms like Debevoise and Plimpton or highly paid Washington lobbyists.

60 Minutes is an excellent news magazine, this is something I will not argue here, but the idea that they would be fully nonbiased in covering stories related to Internet gambling is at times a hard pill to swallow.  That could explain why most of us walk away with a bad taste in our mouths after watching 60 Minutes report on our industry about every two years.

Sometimes I do think 60 Minutes at the very least should disclose CBS' relationship with the very anti-online gambling oriented National Football League when producing such stories.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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