The gambling industry is worth billions of dollars, and there are many large gambling companies whose brands are known all over the world. The individuals behind these brands are not always so well-known though, and in fact many of them are fiercely protective of their privacy.
For example, the names of some founders of popular gambling sites are instantly recognizable to anyone with an interest in online gambling. Many gambling sites have founders who are virtually unheard of. The same is true of people involved with other companies in the industry, such as software providers and payment processors, and also those who own land-based casinos.
Many of the individuals involved with the gambling industry have played significant roles the way it has developed, whether that is online or offline. Some of them continue to do so today. We have compiled biographies with full details of some of the more interesting people from the industry. You can find these all listed below, divided into the following categories.
PartyGaming was behind the launch of PartyPoker, which went on to become one of the biggest online poker sites ever. The company has been a significant player in the online gambling industry for many years, and recently merged with Bwin to create Bwin.Party. Ruth Parasol was the main founder of PartyGaming but there were other key individuals involved too.
PokerStars is currently the biggest online poker site in the world. It was created by Isai Scheinberg, who believed that he could be successful in online poker with world class software and world class support. Launched in 2001, it is known for both of those things today and has a large and loyal customer base.
Full Tilt Poker was once the second largest poker site in the world, but suffered a significant fall from grace before being bought by PokerStars and re-launched in 2012. The original founders of the site included a number of well-known poker professionals, collectively known as Team Full Tilt, and software company Tiltware.
888 is a major online gambling company, operating a number of gambling sites. It was formed in 1997, as Virtual Holdings, by a group of four Israelis. Although no longer actively involved with the company, these four were a big part of the incredible growth of 888.
UltimateBet was a popular poker site before its reputation was ruined following a cheating scandal. Despite a brief recovery on a new poker network, it eventually went out of business. It has its place in online poker history though, primarily for the wrong reasons, as do the individuals who founded this poker site.
Like UltimateBet, Absolute Poker had its initially good reputation tarnished by a cheating scandal. It too went out of business and is no longer operational. It was created by a group of college students who went on to run the site out of Costa Rica. They were said to have lived a wild lifestyle during the successful years, before it all started to go wrong.
Mark Blandford is a very well-respected entrepreneur who is widely considered to be one of the key people in the development of the online gambling industry. He founded SportingBet, one of the earliest online betting sites, which went to be very successful. He is no longer involved with the company today but will always be remembered for the role he played.
Betfair was founded by Andrew Black and Edward Wray in 2000, and it had a dramatic impact on the online gambling industry following its launch. It introduced a whole new form of betting which was to become known as exchange betting. At Betfair, customers could bet against each other with having to use a bookmaker. Neither of its founders work in the company anymore but were the key figures behind its successful rise.
Denise Coates is the daughter of Peter Coates, and between them they are responsible for creating one of the biggest gambling sites in the industry today. Denise worked for her father’s existing betting business from the moment she left school, and she was quick to see the opportunity of the internet. She help to transform the business with the launch of the Bet365 site.
Calvin Ayre is one the more charismatic people in the online gambling industry. He’s certainly not a man to stay in the background. Often portrayed a playboy, he is actually a very talented businessman and entrepreneur. He’s a billionaire too, largely thanks to the success of his gambling company Bodog.
The story of David Baazov is one of the most amazing from within the gambling industry. A relatively young man, he took an obscure Canadian company and turned into one of the biggest names in online gambling. Amaya Gaming is a serious player today, ever since it purchased the largest poker company in the world (PokerStars).
Playtech founder Teddy Sagi is an Israeli, but he’s based in London. He founded Playtech in 1999, and the company has grown to become one of the biggest in the online industry. It was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, at which point is was valued at approximately half a billion pounds sterling.
Norbert Teufelberger has worked in the gambling business since the 1980s. He joined Bwin back in 1999, and was made CEO two years later. When the company merged with PartyGaming to create what was then the largest online gambling organization in the world, he took on the role of joint CEO of the newly formed bwin.party.
It’s hard to put a label on John Lefebvre. He’s a musician as well as a lawyer, and a philanthropist too. He’s also a successful entrepreneur, having founded Neteller in 1999. This online money transfer facility played a huge role in the gambling industry, as it became a popular way to deposit and withdraw funds at gambling sites.
Sheldon Adelson has been successful in many industries, but it was gambling that helped propel him to the status of billionaire. He made his first casino purchase in 1988, and tore it down just three years later to build the Venetian. His plans for the venue were ambitious, but he achieved them nonetheless. His empire went from strength to strength after that.
Stanley Ho is one of the wealthiest men in Asia. His business empire spans across many industries, and he has played a key part in the development of both Hong Kong and Macau. He’s been particularly influential in Macau, thanks to the monopoly he held on gambling in the region for many years.
Steve Wynn is one of the best-known individuals from the land-based gambling industry. He started back in the 1960s, and was instrumental in helping Las Vegas stage a revival in the 1990. Wynn Resorts, his main company, still operates several big name venues in the city today. He’s also involved with casinos in Atlantic City and Macau.
The involvement of the Binion family in the gambling industry started with Benny Binion. He opened a number of casinos in Las Vegas, including the legendary Binion’s Horseshoe. He lost his gambling license due to criminal activity, but his family subsequently regained full control of the Horseshoe. His two sons ran the venue before it was sold in 2004.
Kirk Kerkorian made his first fortune in the aviation industry, before getting involved in the continued development of Las Vegas. Even after his death in 2015 he is still considered to be one of the most important people to have played a role in making Vegas the resort it is today. Among other bold moves, he opened the original MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which was the largest hotel in the world at the time.
Howard Hughes’ role in the gambling industry was just one part of his amazing life. He became one of the richest self-made men in the world thanks to his entrepreneurial nature. After making his name in Hollywood as a film tycoon, he moved into the aviation industry. He spent a great deal of time in Las Vegas in his later life, when he purchased several casinos and hotels in the region.