ONLINE GAMBLING’S MOST FAMOUS GAMBLERS
The famous gamblers in online gambling didn’t happen overnight. Online gambling itself first gained popularity in the 1990s. In 1996, internet gambling websites increased from 15 websites to 200 websites in 1997. A report published by Frost & Sullivan cited online gambling revenues exceeded $830 million in 1998. That very same year, the first online poker rooms were introduced. In 1999, multiplayer online gambling was introduced making it possible for punters to gamble and chat on an interactive online gaming website.
Online gaming is the industry’s fastest-growing sector, The Economist stated. Famous gamblers, entrepreneurs and executives have shaped the online gambling industry into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Many of the big names and important people in the gambling industry are genuine gaming gurus, yet they often don’t receive recognition. While some have become household names, more of the online gambling famous gamblers are virtually unknown.
ONLINE GAMBLING AND THE PRO PLAYERS THAT HAVE SHAPED IT
In 2016, Statista predicted the online gambling market would be at $45.86 billion with the potential to grow to $56.05 billion by 2018. In perhaps the most advantageous times that online gambling has seen, we review the most famous biographies of online gamblers. Stories of online famous gamblers who turned modern betting and gaming into the booming online gaming industry that it is today. Their unique influence greatly affected the evolution of the gambling industry with gambling websites that probably wouldn’t be here today without them. Gambling has become one of the most popular and lucrative businesses on the Internet thanks to the famous gamblers that have taken the bull by the horns.
Ruth Parasol: PartyGaming
Ruth Parasol is a self-made billionaire as well as famous gambler. She is also the majority shareholder of PartyGaming PLC. Parasol was once ranked as 197th of Forbes 400 richest Americans. In 2010, she was ranked 15th on the list of the ‘World’s Richest Self-Made Women’. Parasol obtained a background in business and law which helped immensely in developing PartyGaming specializing in online poker, bingo, sports betting, and casino games.
Parasol launched Starluck Casino, her first online casino that operated out of the Caribbean. Parasol then launched PartyPoker.com in 2001. It’s a very popular gambling site along with PartyCasino.com and PartySports.com. PartyPoker.com was a success, and by 2005, they had reached over $500 million dollars in profit.
The Shaked Brother: 888 Founders
The Shaked Brothers are not only famous gamblers but they are also revered as the pioneers of online gambling. Their innovative ideas inspired and evolved into the 888 gambling website. 888 Holdings operates an array of different online casinos and they also sell their own brand-name gambling merchandise. Thanks to the Shaked Brothers, 888 Holdings is now a multi-million dollar corporation.
Avi and Aaron Shaked were born in Netanya, Israel. Avi’s younger brother, was studying to become a Dentist, when he was invited to attend a conference in Monte Carlo. The conference took place in a casino which inspired Aaron to consider creating a virtual casino. Aaron approached his brother, Avi, with the idea and together, they started developing the online casino website which would later become known as 888.com.
888’s first website, Casino-on-Net, was launched in May, 1997. Five years later, they launched their second online casino, Reef Club Casino. 888 had launched improved templates for their websites that included: an improved graphic interface, enhanced video-slot machines, and more marketing promotions which all were at the time cutting-edge in the industry. Avi and his family still own about twenty-five percent of 888 Holdings’ shares to this day, even though he has no part in company affairs.
Andrew Black: Co-founder of Betfair
Andrew Black is the famous gambler behind one of the most successful betting sites out in the online gambling industry: Betfair. After co-founding the company in 1998 with his colleague, Edward Wray, Betfair grew increasingly popular with over 950,000 active customers on their site.
Betfair allows two individuals to bet against each other at agreed upon odds. Anyone can place a wager, but another person has to choose to accept the wager before the bet continues. At the time, this was a completely new concept to the world of online gambling.
Black is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Betfair, yet he still remains a shareholder, owning approximately eleven percent of the company. His early contributions to Betfair created a poignant, lasting impact which revolutionized the gaming industry. Black and Wray were awarded the ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year’ for Betfair’s innovation and contributions in 2002.
Teddy Sagi: Playtech
Teddy Sagi reached number seven on Forbes’ 2015 Top Ten Richest People in Israel with a net worth currently being estimated at 3.4 billion dollars. Sagi is an investor and an entrepreneur. He’s the founder of the world’s leading supplier of casino gaming software, Playtech. Plus he has also made numerous advantageous investments that have significantly increased his wealth. The first European casino to take gambling online was actually powered by Playtech.
Playtech’s software continuously advances with the technology of the times. The company is known today for offering some of the most innovative software available on the market. Playtech’s games have an easy-to-use interface, enhanced graphics, and great sound quality. They also have excellent bonuses and special features. Playtech has several new products including an online bingo network and they create software to accommodate live dealers. Playtech also eventually launched their first online poker network called, iPoker.
In 2005, Playtech became one of the first software developers to offer mobile capabilities because they recognized a steady increase in the use of mobile devices. In 2006, Playtech was valued on the London Stock Exchange at approximately $768 million. Sagi only owns 33.6% of the company, and he has sold the rest of his shares.
Isai Scheinberg: PokerStars
Famous gambler guru, Isai Scheinberg founded PokerStars along with his son, Mark. With their innovative ideas and advanced software technology, the company now enjoys an engagement of over 50 million registered players on its site. In 1988, he would spend his weekends learning how to play poker. In 1996, Scheinberg finished 25th in the World Series of Poker Texas Hold’em Event.
Scheinberg began PokerStars when he saw a great opportunity to win big. Asking some of his co-workers at IBM to join his team of programmers, he began developing PokerStars.com. In 2000, Scheinberg founded the software development company, PYR Software. Just one year later, along with the help of Rational Enterprises, PokerStars was launched.
Customers enjoyed the advanced software and high-quality graphics that Pokerstars.com offered as well as its superb online atmosphere. PokerStars became successful because Scheinberg was insistent on constantly improving its customer’s user experience. For example, he began by outsourcing its customer service, but then he hired on-site employees to answer questions from punters therein dealing with customer service on a more direct and personal level. This 24 hour service was completely free to members on the site and it truly made PokerStars distinctively different and valuable. PokerStars continued to succeed and grow in popularity because of changes made just like this one.
Calvin Ayre: Bodog
Calvin Ayre has been featured on the front page of Forbes and he was named one of People Magazine’s “Hottest Bachelors.” He was also named one of Star Magazine’s “Most Eligible Bachelors.” Bodog started out as a pure sportsbooks, and then later expanded into online poker and casino games eventually becoming an iconic famous gambler in online gambling. Calvin also carefully cultivated his brand image. With a slick betting interface and excellent marketing campaign, Bodog quickly grew to become one of the most successful online betting sites at the time. By 2005, Bodog was processing more than a million bets per day.
Besides being famous, Bodog was also one of the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) most wanted criminals. In 2006, The United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) targeting gambling sites and banking institutions that aided gambling sites. Calvin Ayre later announced his retirement from gaming withdrawing from the US market by licensing his brand name to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group based in Canada.
In 2009, Calvin Ayre announced that he was at last, coming back from retirement. He launched the insider news site CalvinAyre.com and thereafter, brought back Bodog as a licensing business. He has since licensed the Bodog name to several gambling sites in Europe. And he has ventured into products like coffee and “battle of the bands” contests.