Cantor Gaming, subsequently Cantor Gaming Technology (CGT), was formed in 2004 and in 2009 made a big splash in the Vegas sports betting market with it’s outlet at the newly opened M Resort. Over the next few years they became known as the place to go if you wanted to bet big and gained the reputation of taking on all comers. Things started to unravel soon after. Turns out that accepting all players included agents for bookmaking operations and they became intertwined in some of those dealings. What followed was a series of incidents that led to state gaming violations, NGC imposed fines and sanctions, employee theft (from player accounts including mine and the late great Kirk Kerkorian’s), company theft (short-paying parlay bettors), employee arrests, and eventually the forced resignation of head man, Lee Amaitis.
What once was an entity in Las Vegas that appeared to be leading the way to legitimizing sports betting on a national level became just the opposite. You had to watch yourself when dealing with Cantor. You had to double check your payouts. You had to monitor your account balances and transactions. Players were manipulated into using the mobile applications even if they just wanted to bet over the counter. Over the app, CGT could reject bets at will that a player might get in at the window so if you were a known player you could get the app-only treatment. They had an “our way is best” attitude along with a “take it or leave” stance as far as their unorthodox policies went. At one point they were so pompous about their self-perceived superiority that they removed their lines from all public feeds. Their position was that if anyone wanted to know what the lines were they’d just have to come to the book to see them. The move was so dumb it defied logic. Anyone with an ounce of insight on the subject knew that you don’t increase your handle by making your lines less accessible. Since one of the primary objectives that CGT stated repeatedly was to handle volume unlike that which had ever been seen in Nevada you knew that something was amiss when CGT started hiding its lines.
Over the years I wanted to like Cantor. I wanted them to succeed because a lot of what they were trying to do seemed really good for business. The development of their own app before anyone had one. The implementation of live betting and the attempt to get variations of fantasy sports into the market. They tried going 24 hours for a while. They tried giving rebates on losses. I liked them because they weren’t afraid to offer things you couldn’t get at the other books. Even the very ill-conceived entity-betting idea — they were the only book that said they’d give it a try. It was something of a self-serving move, but at least they saw an opportunity and moved on it. They didn’t sit on their hands and for that they deserve appropriate praise. They took their shot — but it appears that their time is just about up.
Nothing has been officially confirmed via CGT, but according to a number of reports they are scheduled to be auctioned off to the highest bidder prior to the end of April. Speculation is that there are three or four primary candidates looking to acquire the assets and license of CGT. Two of those candidates already have a presence in Las Vegas, so as a player, I’ll be rooting hard for a group other than those two to win out. William Hill almost certainly will be in the mix since blocking another Euro-based outfit from entering the market is clearly in its best interest. Of the books reportedly interested, BetFair and Paddy Power seem to be the most likely to make a play for CGT. Either would be fine with me. We don’t need more William Hill nor do we need more consolidation of the sports market. We need some expansion in the marketplace. Adding another MGM, William Hill, or Coast doesn’t do the players a bit of good.
If a sale does go down, what happens to the CGT books in the interim is anyone’s guess. They have deals at the various books that could end as early as 2017 and at the Venetian they are in especially bad shape due to the current terms of the agreement there. They pay a hefty sum to Sands Corporation (reportedly 300K per month) for operating out of the Palazzo and Venetian. On top of that they’re forced to pay $200 daily for the Venetian book to be cleaned overnight. The property also refuses to cash tickets after hours which forces CGT to staff someone on site to cash. It hardly sounds like a harmonious relationship.
As far as the players go, there would be the whole account-betting situation to deal with. Coast handled their switchovers fairly well, but they were going with the same software (which is married to the counter equipment) as the books they were acquiring. That won’t be the case with CGT so it could be a lot more complicated if a conversion to a whole new system is necessary.