How/when did you first get involved with the gaming industry?
I started in this industry as Project Manager for Internationale des Jeux IJ, a subsidiary of the French lottery FDJ dedicated to the international development of the group. I was responsible for the delivery of a full lottery system for six German lotteries in the late 90s.
What attracted you to this sector?
I found that the industry of lottery providers was an exciting sector at this time with tough competition and challenging projects. In addition I was looking for opportunities to work in an international context. After my experience in Germany I worked for two years for the French branch of Scientific Games SGF, a joint-venture with FDJ. I liked being in a multi-disciplinary and international team and the excitation linked to the bid processes. When Scientific Games merged with Autotote they decided to concentrate on the US. As I wanted to stay in the industry I co-founded a software house called Lotsys with the SGF management team, dedicated to lottery solutions, which is today a 100% subsidiary of FDJ. What I like in this sector is the continuous stream of projects. I moved to FDJ in 2003 and was in charge of the Euro Millions project. Afterwards I took the role of IT Program Director with the responsibility for all the projects at FDJ. My last project in this role was the modernization of FDJ sports betting in 2010. In March 2010 FDJ acquired LVS and I took the job to integrate LVS within FDJ group.
What were you doing prior to the gaming industry?
My career began in software development at Cap Gemini working for the 1st generation of GSM network. In 1994 I started working for FDJ as a software developer and Oracle engineer before I was recruited by their subsidiary IJ to take care of their German projects in 1995.
What are you responsible for at LVS?
As Managing Director I’m mainly responsible for the business development of LVS. The core product of the company, the Advanced Betting Platform, was a very good sportsbook software engine but suffered from insufficient investment. I worked closely with the founder of LVS and coordinated a roadmap to add modules to the solution and to make a multi-channel and multi-game platform out of it. I developed LVS reputation and entered into several bid processes to increase the number of clients, especially within the World Lottery Association.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time?
The emergence of Internet gaming and the following consolidation with State Lotteries trying to catch up is probably the biggest change I’ve seen. Also the move from closed gaming solutions dedicated to retail to multi-channel and open service oriented architectures.
What are the biggest positive factors for the sector right now?
The market regulation is a good trend. I also like the idea that operators can collaborate when they work in different jurisdictions. This is something I try to develop in the WLA community as I believe this is the only way for local actors to play globally in the sports betting industry.
And what are the negatives ones – the obstacles to growth?
The bad trend (for me) is consolidation. As a software provider I prefer a landscape with numerous operators in many jurisdictions. I hope that innovation and local specificities will keep going on and that we will not end up with a few .com global operators.
Looking at your entire career, what do you think was your smartest move?
Taking the challenge to make a profitable business out of LVS.
And dumbest one?
I have one regret: I did not manage to convince FDJ to let Lotsys remain an independent company when they took 100% of the shares.
Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
Ten years’ time is too far away for me. I have big ambitions for LVS. We have a strategy to increase the market share of the company and also to extend the market that LVS will be able to address. I hope I will be able to see this happen. We have managed to increase our sales by 150% in 2012. I would love to see a decade of years with a two digits grow.
If you’d never embarked on this career, what other line(s) of work would you have liked to pursue?
I think I would have been in Biochemistry or Genetics as I got a Master Degree in these areas before I was interested in computer sciences.