Sports Book Scene February 2nd 2000

State & Boat Operators Conspire Against Bettors on Florida Cruise to Nowhere Ships, Sportsline buy LVSC from CBS and DBC

Whether to bet or not is an individual decision, but bettors deserve a level playing field.

Such is not the case in Florida, according to the former operator of sports books aboard Cruise to Nowhere junkets that offer sports and casino wagering.

In fact, the combination of greed by the cruise ship companies and quixotic interpretation of existing statutes by the Florida Attorney General’s Office, results in players getting a raw deal.

That’s the view of Glen Johnson, who has been running junkets out of Florida, and is now involved with legal gaming in Costa Rica.

Under the law, the cruise ships sail out beyond the three-mile limit on the east coast of Florida, and nine miles on the west coast, said Johnson. At that point, passengers may legally place wagers, which begin and end while the ship is outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. This could be a hand of black jack, or a ball game.

Johnson notes that the ships routinely sail up and down both Florida coasts.

But passengers have placed themselves, “in a position that the boat now controls their destiny,” he stated.

If the cruise operators are heavy on wagers that favor the players, the boat might return to state waters before the conclusion of the game. All monies are refunded, as there would be no winner or losers, said Johnson.

Of course, other factors might also intervene such as an overtime or slow game which exceeds the time allotted for the cruise. This, too, would result in voided wagers, Johnson stated.

Future betting is now prohibited on such cruises, he added, due to a ruling by the Florida AG, “that the betting slip, once brought into state wagers is an illegal contract.”

Johnson suggested that the state’s position might be better suited to the Land of Oz, than the U.S. He said a reasonable argument could be advanced that a gaming chip not cashed but retained for subsequent payment is also a contract with the cruise-to-nowhere ship.

The good folks who run law enforcement in the Sunshine State certainly have a strong position against sports betting. Johnson pointed out that, “you can go to jail in Florida for placing a bet with a bookmaker.”

The Internet is also verboten territory. While federal law has some loopholes, Florida statutes make online betting a second-degree misdemeanor, says Johnson.

According to the ex-sports book manager, cruise-to-nowhere ships, which offer legal gambling, may become an endangered species. The state may rescind current licensees’ leases and not renew others of ships docked at locations where it has jurisdiction.

If Johnson’s observations are accurate, it sounds like Big Brother is alive and well in the State of Florida.

Takeover Imminent. Amidst a lack of hoopla and almost a veil of silence, a merger/acquisition of Data Broadcasting Corp.’s sports subsidiaries in Las Vegas by Vegas Insider was announced a few months ago.

During the intervening months, the plan lay dormant. Approval by the state gaming commission was needed. But even after it was reportedly obtained, the two parties didn’t appear in any hurry to pull the trigger.

That may be changing as Sports Book Scene has learned top management of the Florida-based website company is expected in town next week, presumably to consummate the deal.

Terms of the plan call for V.I.’s parent company, SportsLine, to buy all the sports operations of DBC Sports, which includes Las Vegas Sports Consultants, Computer Sports World, Sports Trax, and the DBS Sports website.

Neither company has yet officially confirmed the deal.

According to sources, the deal is valued at $10 million.

While both companies are strong, well respected entrants in the sports betting industry, by combining their forces, they would cover virtually all major areas of interest to both consumers and sports book operators.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants, founded by Roxy Roxborough, has been the premier oddsmaking company with the U.S. sports wagering business for over two decades.

Roxy has retired but is still an active consultant.

DBC’s original plan to synergistically combine its primary sphere of operations, financial markets, with sports information didn’t fulfill its promise, according to a source.

The trend in business toward consolidation of companies in order to achieve competitive advantages and economies of scale is common within the gaming business, as well as other industries.

Ideally, the melding of Vegas Insider and the DBC subsidiaries will produce a dynamic integrated company that will help sports wagering get a voice.

As an active participant in LVSC, Roxy was a powerful spokesman for legal sports betting. With the industry now under attack from moral zealots who wish to promulgate the false notion that this activity is somehow tainted, there is a strong need for a leader to articulate its positions.

Please send questions, comments, etc. | February 2nd, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

Leave a Reply