Gambling frenzy pumps up Sports Illustrated

Gambling frenzy pumps up Sports Illustrated:

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Sports media outlets are already gearing up to reap a big boon in advertising and readers following the US Supreme Court decision to drop the ban on sports gambling. The largely illegal $170 billion-a-year industry will likely draw additional government scrutiny as states decide how to open the door. Houlihan Lokey, the company that has been shopping the Sports Illustrated title for Meredith, had been telling prospective suitors for weeks that it could bring huge upside once the gambling ban was lifted. Sources close to the situation tell Media Ink there were more than 50 parties that submitted a bid for Sports Illustrated by the May 11 deadline — a mere three days before the landmark Supreme Court case Christie vs. NCAA. The SI suitors range from billionaires to media companies and a handful of private equity players — with bids said to be in the $200 million range, according to a source close to the situation. SI insiders said the publication anticipated the lifting of the ban several months ago, when it launched a weekly betting show called “The Line” on SI TV hosted by Todd Fuhrman. ESPN, which despite cord-cutting still bills itself as the Worldwide Leader in sports, was taking a cautious approach. “It is a bit early, but we are actively monitoring it,” said a spokeswoman. Most realize that the lifting of the ban is also likely to draw government regulators similar to the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain, which has allowed sports gambling advertising across all media since 2007 but closely monitors them. Back in 2006, The Sporting News, at the time owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, was fined $7.2 million by the Justice Department for running ads for offshore gambling, which ran afoul of federal laws. Esquire magazine also had to drop offshore gambling ads from Bodog in 2005. The fantasy sports websites DraftKings and FanDuel drew the ire of New York regulators before getting an all clear from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, which agreed they were a game of skill — not gambling. Peter Chernin’s group has also been gearing up for months. In September, it lured former ESPN executive Chad Millman — editorial director of and ESPN: The Magazine — to head up its Action Network, which is a combination of three acquired companies all prepared to reap gains from sports betting. They include Mark Cuban-backed FantasyLabs, Sports Insights and SportsAction. The Action Network sells access to sports data and analytics on video, podcasts and articles — aimed at people who play fantasy sports or gamble on sports. The granddaddy of publications, Sporting News, was sold by the New­house family’s Advance Publications to Britain’s Perform Group 10 years ago. Perform CEO Ross MacEacharn expects to reap gains in the US — but with lots of government oversight. “For betting operators and rights holders, it presents a unique opportunity to build an efficient, properly regulated betting market from the ground up and design a m
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