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Cantor Gaming suing competing sports book's chief executive
Thursday August 4, 2011 : Cantor Gaming suing competing sports book's chief executive
William Hill plc's move into the Nevada sports betting market through the $15.7 million acquisition of Brandywine Bookmaking and the Lucky’s Race and Sports Book chain, appears to be ruffling a few feathers.
Cantor Gaming, which is active in the on-premises remote gambling sector in the betting mecca, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Clark County District Court, alleging that one of its former executives, Joseph Asher, breached non-compete and confidentiality obligations.
Cantor claims that Asher left its employ in 2007 and went on to develop the Las Vegas-based Brandywine Bookmaking and Lucky’s Race and Sports Book chain - now the focus of plans to sell the enterprise to British bookmaker William Hill plc.
Cantor Gaming faces intense competition from the Brit firm, which is also buying the local Leroy’s sports betting chain owned by American Wagering Inc.
Asher has denied the charges, saying in a statement Wednesday: "I left Cantor over four years ago and Brandywine has been operating for over three years. Cantor didn't file its complaint until after we signed a deal to sell the company to William Hill.
“The timing says a lot. Any allegation that I have done anything wrong is ridiculous and totally false."
However, the Cantor filing charges that after working with Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. for more than a decade as an outside attorney, "Asher was given the opportunity ….to participate as a partner in Cantor’s high technology entry into the gaming industry.’"
In September 2004, Asher accepted a limited partnership interest in Cantor company CGW Holdings and served as managing director and vice president of another Cantor company, CGW Nevada.
According to the filing, Asher "became privy to Cantor’s revolutionary ideas in mobile gaming and sports wagering" and "was subject to a contractual duty of loyalty that included stringent non-compete obligations in favor of both CGW Holdings and CGW Nevada."
Asher played a key role over the following three years in obtaining gaming licenses and negotiating with casino operators on potential sports betting deals, it is claimed.
He resigned in March 2007 and, Cantor claims, "began a concerted effort to establish a gaming enterprise through the improper usurpation of proprietary ideas and corporate opportunities that rightfully belonged to the Cantor partnerships."
"Asher diverted profitable business opportunities with Navegante Group, a well-respected casino services provider," the filing alleges, saying that the diversion of Navegante also had the effect of delaying CGW Nevada’s commencement of sports wagering operations by several months.
"On behalf of the CGW Partnerships, Asher was spearheading discussions about specific locations with Navegante throughout 2006 and early 2007,’’ Cantor Gaming asserts. "Representatives of Navegante were in communication with Asher concerning sports wagering at Navegante locations as late as one week prior to Asher’s sudden departure.
"Asher usurped this opportunity for himself and his Brandywine entity. Asher and Brandywine entered into an arrangement with Navegante to conduct sports wagering at facilities managed by Navegante, including the Red Lion Hotel & Casino in Elko, the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and Casino Fandango in Carson City.
"But for Asher’s usurpation of CGW Nevada’s corporate opportunities and Asher’s violation of his fiduciary and non-compete obligations to the CGW Partnerships, CGW Nevada would have been able to conduct sports wagering operations at these facilities," Cantor complains.
Cantor Gaming is now concerned that Asher as CEO of Brandywine will join William Hill management and attempt to divert business opportunities from Cantor to William Hill, the filing notes.
In addition to the Brandywine allegations, the filing also complains that Asher has failed to pay the outstanding principal and accrued interest on two loans of unspecified value from Cantor.
Cantor’s lawsuit asks the court to impose a constructive trust on the proceeds of the Brandywine sale to William Hill and to award Cantor unspecified damages.
Brandywine, operating as Lucky's, has 16 Nevada land locations.
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