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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Trade Show Lodges Complaint Against Mandalay Director

6 August 2004

A small trade show said it has filed a formal complaint with Mandalay Resort Group against a Mandalay board member, saying the board member violated the company's conflict of interest rules by attempting to obtain an equity interest in the show and then blocking the show's desired dates.

The Global Sporting Expo, a startup convention for big game hunters that was set to debut Jan. 20 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, filed the complaint against Mandalay Vice Chairman Bill Richardson with company executives Thursday, expo owner Sandra Encinas of Tucson said.

Richardson is the silent partner of a company called Osceola Ventures LLC that owns the Antique Arms Show, which is scheduled to run the weekend after the Global Sporting Expo, she said.

Encinas said she was told to contact Osceola because the company has an agreement in its Mandalay contract that affords blackout periods for competing shows.

Encinas said Osceola agreed that her show would not compete with the Antique Gun Show and subsequently tried to obtain an equity interest in the event. Encinas said she considered the offer but declined because Osceola wanted too much control over the Global Sporting Expo. She said Osceola also wanted an interest in an affiliated venture she launched recently that stages virtual trade shows over the Internet.

"I asked them if it was their intention to block my show if they couldn't get an equity interest and they said 'no.' Then when I declined, they said they were going to block the show," Encinas said.

Richardson and Yvette Landau, the company's chief legal counsel, could not be reached for comment this morning.

Public finance documents filed for Mandalay Resort Group in recent months don't mention Osceola Ventures or Richardson's alleged relationships with trade shows.

Richardson has violated his company's ethics and fair dealing rules by using his influence at Mandalay Resort Group and engaging in business dealings with shows that exhibit at Mandalay Bay, Encinas said.

"He has positioned himself to be able to negotiate and make deals that he personally is going to gain from," she said. "I'm just a single mom with good connections in the sporting industry. This is my first show and I think they came in thinking that (I don't) know anything."

Osceola first offered to sell Encinas the desired dates for $50,000, a further ethics violation, she said.

Encinas said she has since moved the show to the Venetian, where she has less favorable dates and a smaller venue.

The Global Sporting Expo is open to consumers and will feature vendors including taxidermists, custom gun dealers, wildlife artists, furriers and adventure travel companies. The show's expected clientele tend to be big gamblers and are coveted by the casinos, Encinas said.