eparately, the company said that it does not intend to fill the General Counsel position vacated earlier this year by Scott Solomon. Youbet staff lawyer Dan Perini, who has been with the company since 2006, will remain in his current role as assistant general counsel and coordinate legal matters with outside counsel and with senior management.
According to Youbet. CEO Charles F. Champion: "These personnel moves are designed to help Youbet address needs arising from the rapid growth of Youbet’s online business, the evolving state of content distribution in the horse racing industry, the resolution of major legal and regulatory issues, and the integration of United Tote’s worldwide totalizator business.”
"Our growth strategies are built around customer acquisition and retention, cost control and yield management," Champion said. "With Gary leading operations and Jim taking the helm in finance, our management team is now aligned to address these opportunities and challenges for the near and longer term."
Sproule has been with Youbet since May 2002 when Champion, then recently appointed to lead the company, asked him to join a turnaround effort that resulted in the formation of the business model that has made Youbet a leading advanced deposit wagering company.
In his role as CFO, Sproule broadened Youbet’s investor base and helped guide the company through several key capital initiatives, including the acquisitions of phone wagering subsidiary IRG and diversified technology provider United Tote.
"Gary’s greatest strength as CFO is his understanding of the operating side of our business," said Champion. "Now, as chief of operations, Gary can focus his operating skills on the execution of our long-term strategies with a full appreciation of our capital structure; and because he knows our operations so well, he can have an immediate impact."
Sproule joined Youbet as Chief Financial Officer. He served as Chief Operating Officer from May 2004 until August 2005, when he again assumed the role of CFO and Champion took charge of operations.
James A. Burk is joining Youbet following successful turns as CFO for Palace Entertainment and United Cinemas International (UCI) as well as an executive at Vivendi Universal.
Burk was CFO at UCI, a joint venture of Vivendi Universal and Paramount Pictures, when the company sold its European assets to Terra Firma Capital Partners. He was subsequently engaged to sell UCI’s remaining assets in Brazil and Argentina, a task he successfully completed in 2005.
For 20 years prior to his time with UCI (1979-99), Burk worked at MCA Inc./Universal Studios, where he held increasingly responsible positions in finance and international operations..
During his time at UCI and Universal, Burk was known as a strong cost manager. He developed procurement, analysis and financial accountability protocols that produced substantial savings. He supervised a team at Universal that developed a budgeting model for marketing and print costs for feature films based on expected performance.
"Jim Burk has the financial credentials we need on a go-forward basis," said Champion. "As important, he has a strong sense of the content driven entertainment business, and we expect to rely on that experience as we continue to refine our business model going forward."