Borgata Strikes Harder In Lawsuit Against Atlantic City Ocean Casino

Last summer saw a good number of top-level marketing and client relations executives depart the Borgata payroll to pick up positions in Boardwalk upstart Ocean Casino Resort.

This might be considered a smart business move by the rival, however, Borgata considers it as a means of illegally poaching proprietary data of its biggest-spending customers. The case has been brewing for several months before a federal high court in Nevada.

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Just last week, Borgata amended its suit with allegations that Ocean has continued to dive deeper into its employee ranks by picking off its former employees to increase Ocean’s competitiveness.

According to Borgata, Ocean was targeting a list of executives with hopes to get into the know of Borgata’s trade secrets. The list’s most notable mentions include top-level employees like William Callahan, who served as Borgata’s Vice President of Relationship Marketing and Kelly Burke who held the position of the former executive director of marketing.

According to Borgata attorneys, “Many of these executives have since done precisely what Ocean hired them to do: employ their intimate knowledge of Borgata’s confidential information — including marketing strategies, player preferences, and player contact information — in an attempt to lure Borgata’s most important customers to Ocean.”

The case had initially taken off in the U.S District Court in Nevada but was recently moved to federal court in New Jersey.

The new complaints, details Borgata’s accusations of Ocean’s dubious hiring practices.

“Soon after hiring the first two Borgata employees — both of whom were under contract forbidding their employment at competing casinos like Ocean’s — Ocean in short order hired three other marketing and customer service employees who had previously reported to one of the first hires. A little while later, Ocean hired five butlers and five other marketing and customer service professionals away from Borgata. And Ocean intends on hiring still more Borgata employees who can provide it with access to Borgata’s proprietary information.

“Ocean has also approached Borgata’s vendors with offers for exclusive relationships in an attempt to cut Borgata out of the Atlantic City market.”

Considering the current economic environment, government restrictions, low visitations and low spending on casino floors, this has put pressure on not just Borgata but also every other hotel-casino operating in Atlantic City.  The competition for high-level customers is stiff and Borgata’s hard-earned information on these valuable customers gives it the ability to maintain these relationships.

Callahan and his team had created personal relationships with these high profile patrons.

“They possessed detailed knowledge of these players’ particular wants and needs, permissions sought, accommodation preferences, schedules, gaming habits, credit requirements, comp requirements, staffing preferences, and other information about the players and their tendencies that Borgata relied upon to provide it with a competitive advantage in retaining these players during their visits to Atlantic City.”

Callahan and Burke both left Borgata last summer but didn’t inform the casino company that they had been accepted at Ocean. They actually concealed the identity of their new employer while accepting positions similar to the ones they held at Borgata.

At Ocean, Callahan holds the position of senior vice president of hotel operation though Borgata’s attorneys consider this a ruse to cover up Callahan’s true role. From Callahan to Borgata’s director of communications, public relations manager, social media manager, digital specialist, and digital manager, Ocean seems to have pulled the carpet off Borgata’s feet.

Thus, Borgata is requesting the court put an end to the illegal poaching of its information by Ocean by ordering the immediate return of all documents and devices containing trade secrets, as well as, awarding damages as decided by the court.

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