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Emily D. Swoboda
 

Q & A: Joe Asher, Cantor Gaming

9 June 2006

Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming, a division of financial company Cantor Fitzgerald, was instrumental last year in passing Assembly Bill 471, permitting wireless hand-held gaming devices to be used in certain public areas of Las Vegas casinos. In May 2006, Cantor became the first (and so far the only) company to win a license to offer a mobile gaming product at Las Vegas casinos. It also announce in May that it has won a contract with the Las Vegas Sands Corporation to provide its mobile gaming system to the Venetian Casino and the soon-to-be-built Palazzo Casino.

Cantor Managing Director Joe Asher, who led the lobbying effort to pass AB471, spoke this week with IGN.

IGN: Was there ever a time when you thought Assembly Bill 471 might not pass?

Joe Asher: You're never confident it will pass until it does. But the key is getting it out of committee. Once it makes it out of committee, the chances are much higher. It was never a concern regarding the substance of the bill; it was more the fact that the Nevada Legislature only meets every two years for 120 days, and they have a lot of other business to tend to. It was a matter of not getting lost in the shuffle. Certainly there were lots of legislators with lots of questions and we did our best at addressing all of those questions. So, it was never, "Will people vote against the bill?' It was more, 'Is the timeline enough for us?"

IGN: Is there any other legislation on your radar, in Nevada or otherwise?

JA: Mobile gaming in other jurisdictions is certainly on our radar. New Jersey held a public hearing (in March) on mobile gaming, and I testified. I wasn't there in person. I was actually on my honeymoon, so I didn't think it was a good idea for me to be there at the time, but they allowed me to submit my testimony in writing. Certainly there are other ideas that may need legislative action in the future.

IGN: Have you considered getting into politics?

JA: You know, when I was younger I thought about it. But now that I'm older, I value my privacy and my wife's privacy. Politics is a very public profession. So it's nothing on my radar screen.

IGN: When will the Venetian go live with your product? Can you walk our readers through the process of going from initial approval to launching?

JA: The field trial will be at the end of this year or early next year. The Gaming Control Board is finalizing some policy standards, and once they are finalized, which will be sometime in the month of June, we would be a in position to submit the technology to the lab for approval by the Gaming Control Board. Once they are comfortable, it will be live at the Venetian for a field trial--live in the sense that there will be live bets being placed by real people on a limited basis, confined to public areas in the casino. The trial will last between 30 and 60 days, and once it is complete, we will be permitted offer it on a full-time basis.

IGN: What got you into the gaming industry?

JA: I got into it at a very early age. I grew up in Wilmington, Del. and my father used to go to the racetrack. I started working at the track when I was 16. I worked through the end of high school and into college. After college, I went to law school. I enjoyed the practice of law, but I didn't have a passion for it. I wasn't one of those guys who'd come home and read the latest court opinion. But I would come home and look up the latest track scores on the Internet. When I was practicing law, Cantor Fitzgerald was my principal client. So I knew the senior executives pretty well by the 9-11 attacks. (Cantor Fitzgerald was the single hardest hit company during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The company lost 658 employees that day.) That day I stopped my other law practice and became immersed in helping the families of the victims recover from that. My relationship (with the company) intensified greatly after that, and we set about to rebuild the company. To this day, the company donates 25 percent of it profits to the families of the (Cantor) victims. I started talking to (Cantor Chairman) Howard (Lutnick) about what the company could do in gaming. Gaming was always in my blood. And that's how I got into the gaming industry.

IGN: What would you like to see happen with the remote gaming in the United States?

JA: We operate an Internet casino in the U.K. We're licensed in Alderney. The business model for our casino is to operate white label-casinos for businesses wishing to get into the gambling industry. Our policy is that we won't accept bets from the U.S. because of the current DOJ position. However, in the event that changes, we would obviously participate in the market.

IGN: The efforts in Congress to prohibit I-gaming continue. What do you think will happen?

JA: I really don't know. I pay attention. I'm interested. But I wouldn't venture to predict what will happen one year, five years from now. Obviously, we're a U.S. company so we're focused on it.

Q & A: Joe Asher, Cantor Gaming is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda