NFL Partnership Forces Yahoo! to Move Ads for Gambling Sites

  • by December 18, 2000
SAN JOSE, California (AP) - The world's biggest Internet portal has learned an important lesson: Sports and gambling can make a volatile mix. Yahoo! Inc. said Thursday it was taking advertisements for gambling-related sites off its football Web pages in order to preserve its coveted relationship with the NFL.

Yahoo! presents radio broadcasts of games as part of a partnership that began in October. At the time, Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue met in the company's headquarters in Santa Clara and beamed as they discussed the business opportunities the other could offer.

The ads in question, for online casinos and sites that offer tips to sports bettors, were not up when the partnership was announced, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. He said league officials found out about the ads last week.

"We expressed concern, we made a phone call to our friends at Yahoo!, they said they will take them down, and we'll move on," McCarthy said.

As of Thursday afternoon, an ad for the Millennium Online Casino still could be seen on a Yahoo! football page. Yahoo! Sports' director of production, Tonya Antonucci, said gambling ads were being moved to pages that had no NFL logos or content generated by the league.

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Advertising is something of a sore subject at Yahoo!, which has seen its stock price and online ad rates fall dramatically this year. Yahoo! shares were down dlrs 2.88, or more than 8%, to dlrs 32 on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange on Thursday. They traded as high as dlrs 250.06 in January.

The misstep comes as the NFL is expanding its online content and looking for a new partner to run the nfl.com Website after its three-year contract with espn.com expires in April.

McCarthy said the issue of the gambling ads will not affect Yahoo!'s chances of securing the deal. The NFL also is negotiating with ESPN, CBS and America Online.

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