Cantor-Asher trial continues

Cantor-Asher trial continues

October 31, 2017 3:11 AM


This past week saw the start of a parade of bookies through District Court as part of the final trial phase in the long running dispute between Joe Asher of William Hill and Cantor Gaming, now known as CG Technology.

The dispute started when Asher, a former partner in Cantor Gaming, left Cantor and started his own race and sportsbook operation called Brandywine, which he later sold to William Hill. Cantor contended Asher violated his partnership agreement and took confidential information inclusive of customers with him, and based on Judge Mark Denton’s 64-page long Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law the court seems to have solidly sided with Cantor during the first phase of the trial.

Though the first phase seems to have been all about the validity and enforceability of Asher’s partnership agreement and if he breeched it, the second phase seems to be all about how much Asher will have to pay, if anything, for seemingly violating his agreement with his former partners.

To determine that, a jury has been selected and has been hearing testimony from race and sports luminaries and legends like John Gaughan, Jimmy Vaccaro, Jeff Siri and Vic Salerno among others. Speculations are running that the number the jury may award could go from nominal into the tens of millions, before interest and attorney fees.

Due to the length of time of the trial and the high-priced legal talent on both sides, it is possible the interest and legal fees could even end up being greater than the jury award if the jury so awards against Asher.

According to persons familiar with the Asher side of things, of the potential awards, interest and legal fees, the first $2 million would be Asher’s responsibility with the balance being covered by William Hill. Pending the award amount it could work out that William Hill effectively pays twice for Brandywine – once to Asher and his partners and once to Cantor.

If events do unfold this way, Salerno’s comment years ago about why bother to buy them (referencing William Hill buying Brandywine) would become even more insightful and prophetic than when originally made.

A former Nevada Gaming Control Board member, who prefers his anonymity, observed there may even be bigger issues looming for Asher and William Hill out of this trial. First, he noted that if the jury award is a big one compared to the purchase price of the company, then the current Control Board or Gaming Commission might revisit both Asher and William Hill under potential concerns of business probity, ethical business dealings and Nevada’s gaming image.

Second, Nevada has specific laws about confidential information and while any breaking of those laws might have lost teeth under the statute of limitations, the Board and Commission might still take them under review as their considerations are not subject to any time limitations.

Third, if the U.S. Supreme Court does reverse the federal prohibition on sports wagering, then Asher and William Hill will probably have to relive the events and rulings in every new potential U.S. jurisdiction they might have interest in becoming licensed in.

While it very unlikely the Commission would yank Asher’s or William Hill’s gaming license over the Cantor case, it is very likely any subsequent issues will draw more attention and scrutiny from the Board and Commission, particularly as it is their nature and function to assure the licensees within Nevada conduct themselves with the utmost of probity, propriety and integrity; and, oh and yes, pay their taxes.

Though Judge Denton’s Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law was a very interesting read with lots of interesting references and conclusions, this writer is looking forward to reading the whole trial testimony and final rulings when completed as it should be a very interesting and telling story about the inside world of Nevada’s sportsbooks from the testimony of some truly colorful gaming characters, like those mentioned above.

The case may conclude this week and go to jury later this week or early next week, and pending the amounts awarded, if any, may or may not go to appeal soon thereafter.

Regardless of outcome, as usual, the lawyers will have made their money, justice will be in the hands of the jury, someone will win and someone will lose, and the results when made public will be reported here in a future column.