The Ultimate Blackjack Tour has filed suit against GSN, accusing the cabler of copying key game elements for its own “World Series of Blackjack.”
In the suit, filed late Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Ultimate Blackjack Tour claims that GSN “misappropriated UBT’s innovative ideas and concepts, and fraudulently misrepresented them as GSN’s own ideas.”
GSN declined comment.
The Ultimate Blackjack Tour is suing for breach of implied contract, breach of confidence, unfair competition and unjust enrichment, and it is seeking a permanent injunction barring GSN from running the “World Series of Blackjack” in its present form. UBT is also requesting an as-yet-undetermined amount in monetary damages.
At the core of the complaint: Ultimate Blackjack Tour came up with a way to make televising the card game more sexy, which it says GSN then pilfered for its own blackjack competish.
Specifically, Ultimate Blackjack Tour said that last year it pitched GSN (which had previously aired “World Series of Blackjack”) in two separate meetings its version of televised blackjack, which includes an elimination component and secret bets.
GSN told Ultimate Blackjack Tour that it was interested in owning the show format, the suit alleges, but UBT said it was “unwilling to transfer ownership of its show format.” A deal wasn’t reached.
But after watching a promo reel produced by Ultimate Blackjack Tour, GSN added similar elements to its own “World Series,” the suit contends.
“GSN’s original programming was boring and lacked appeal to viewers due to the slow pace of traditional blackjack rules and GSN’s failure to create a format designed to bring excitement to a television audience,” the suit said. As a result, “GSN misappropriated the ideas and concepts which UBT disclosed to GSN in confidence and which are contained in the tournament.”
Ultimate Blackjack Tour also claims that GSN pressured several pro blackjack players to opt out of UBT tournaments.
“GSN’s interference led one or more of these professional players to decide not to participate in future UBT blackjack events, thereby depriving UBT of valuable, unique and irreplaceable participants for such events,” the suit said.
Ultimate Blackjack Tour has a two-year deal with CBS Sports to air on Saturday afternoons starting Sept. 16; the current season of “World Series of Blackjack” launched June 5 on GSN.