02/28/2003 12:00AM

CBS dumping odds interest


LAS VEGAS - What are the chances that the top oddsmaking firm in the world is for sale?

If that were an actual betting proposition, it would have been taken off the board this past week because Las Vegas Sports Consultants is being shopped around by its owner, Sportsline.com Inc.

LVSC, which was originally founded by legendary oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough, provides odds for 90 percent of the sports books in Nevada, as well as offshore and other bookmakers around the world.

The news broke Wednesday when Sportsline.com, which is 31-percent owned by CBS, signed an agreement to produce, host, and manage the official NCAA Championship website (ncaasports.com). One of the terms of the contract was that Sportsline.com sell its interests in LVSC and its sister website, vegasinsider.com, which also provides gambling information and has handicappers that sell selections on all major pro and college sports.

CBS televises the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and its indirect ownership of the gambling sites did not sit well with the NCAA.

The NCAA has been behind Sen. John McCain's crusade to outlaw college sports betting in Nevada - the only state in which it is currently legal - and has been called hypocritical by the casino industry because of its association with the gambling sites.

"It's good news to us and removes an annoyance," Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, said Wednesday in a released statement. "It's been an issue we would rather not deal with."

"The NCAA is very pleased with this agreement between CBS and SportsLine.com," said Myles Brand, president of the NCAA. "Just as important to the NCAA is the disposal of VegasInsider.com and Las Vegas Sports Consultants by SportsLine.com, as well as the other steps SportsLine.com and CBS Sports have taken to support the NCAA's position regarding sports wagering."

CBS Sports has also agreed to support the NCAA's anti-gambling stance with advertisements during games.

Michael Levy, Sportsline.com's founder and CEO, said he expects a sale within six months.

Not coincidentally, that would be right before the football season starts.

Rain may hit NASCAR

People in Las Vegas usually don't have to pay too much attention to weather reports. It's very hot in the summer, relatively cold (typically in the 50's) during the winter months, and pretty mild the rest of the time.

But this past week rain has dampened preparations for this weekend's NASCAR races. In fact, through Thursday night, 1.95 inches had fallen in the Las Vegas Valley so far this year. That might not sound like much, but it's more than we saw all of last year.

As of noon Friday, forecasts were calling for more rain through Saturday, when the Sam's Town 300 Busch Series race was scheduled to be run. It was supposed to clear up for Sunday's UAW DaimlerChrysler 400 Winston Cup race.

$35 million and counting

Megabucks, a statewide progressive jackpot linked to more than 150 casinos, was approaching a record $35 million as of noon Friday. Players have to play the maximum of three coins on the $1 machines to be eligible for the jackpot.

No one has lined up the three winning symbols since last May at Bally's Las Vegas. The previous record was the $34,955,489.56 won by cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay at the Desert Inn on Jan. 26, 2000.

The jackpot is paid out in 25 annual installments, though there is a lump-sun option for a lesser amount.

Baseball action starting up

Spring training is under way and exhibition games began Thursday, so this is a good a time to check on the odds for the upcoming season.

The Yankees are the 3-1 favorite to win the World Series, according to odds at the Imperial Palace, which has the most ways in which to bet the upcoming baseball season. Most other books around town have already lowered the Yankees to 5-2.

The A's are next on the IP's list at 7-1, followed by the Diamondbacks (8-1), and the Braves and Cardinals (both at 10-1). The defending champion Angels are at 12-1, along with the Mariners, Red Sox, and White Sox. If you cut the odds in half for each team, you pretty much have their odds to win the American League or National League pennant.

If you just want to bet on the divisional races, the Yankees are 1-10 to win the AL East, with the Twins a 2-3 favorite in the AL Central, the A's 5-9 in the AL West, the Braves 11-10 in the NL East, the Cardinals 11-10 in the NL Central, and the Diamondbacks 5-9 in the NL West.

The Imperial Palace also has over/under season win propositions. The Yankees are tabbed at 98 1/2, with the A's a distant second at 93 1/2. The Angels are at 91 1/2, with the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Braves all at 91.

Alex Rodriguez has been bet down to 7-2 to win the home run title, ahead of Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa both at 5-1. The IP also has 40 proposition wagers, including over/under most home runs hit by any player (58 1/2) and over/under most RBI by any player (150), as well as head-to-head player matchups.

Leach home early

On the ABC show "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here," Las Vegas resident Robin Leach was the first to be voted off the show, or, more accurately, he was the first to not get enough votes to stay.

All this despite a local p.r. campaign that begged people to vote for Leach, who is best known as the former host of "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" but is now a socialite and television reporter on the Vegas scene.

On his final show Wednesday night, Leach had "702" and "Go Kings" written on his jacket. Las Vegas's area code is 702, and the other was a show of support for the NBA's Sacramento Kings, which are owned by the Maloof family that owns the Palms Casino-Resort, one of Leach's favorite hangouts.

If Leach had won, he was going to split the $500,000 prize between Lou Ruvo's Alzheimer's Care Facility in Las Vegas and the Meals on Wheels program in New York City. But don't feel too badly for Leach, who is reportedly in negotiations to host a similar show to be filmed in Las Vegas.