How/when did you first get involved with the gaming industry?
In early 2005 I bumped into Calvin Ayre at one of his infamous parties and we merged one of my entertainment companies creating BodogMusic, Bodog Entertainment, BodogTV, Bodog Social Media, Bodog Fight, BodogBattle and Bodog Live Events.
What attracted you to this sector?
2005 was an incredibly exciting time in the industry. Calvin was an entrepreneur who made everything fun so it was easy to merge our entertainment industry businesses into the mind-set of online gaming. We viewed it all as entertainment. The music business was suffering because the internet was killing it with downloading so it was very exciting to use the internet to expand our entertainment properties in a different way. This greatly increased brand presence. It worked very quickly and with great financial impact on the brand.
What are you responsible for at Olympian-IAM?
I do what I’ve always done in the music business – I search out incredible talents and bring them into the organization, provide them with the tools and empower them to create their art. In this case it is an incredibly talented group of online gaming executives who have been hand picked and who are in the process of building a great online gaming story; this is their art. My other responsibilities also bring me great enjoyment: developing finance, advance planning and strategy, brand development, expansion to new markets and global assessment. All of these collectively keep my brain going at light-speed.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time?
The move away from the gaming company also being the software developer as its core business and the smaller brands being able to do deals with software providers to access the best most advanced games in the world at competitive rates. This takes away the need of having 50 developers and 50 designers sitting on the floor creating games.
What are the biggest positive factors for the sector right now?
I think a positive that I have been seeing over the last two years is the land-based casinos – especially the tribal regional casinos – realizing that online gaming is actually supportive to their casino business and not competitive. There is a lot of scrambling going on to get in the online game. The key for the 600-plus regional tribal casinos in the USA is not to acquire a big costly operation with huge up-front costs but to partner with a operation that will give them the software, marketing tools and all of the operational infrastructure on a revenue share model. Spending a lot of up-front money on this is unnecessary these days.
And what are the negatives ones – the obstacles to growth?
Governments who are in the business of operating in online gambling and restricting entrepreneurs from their own country from competing is a huge negative and allows foreign gaming groups to raid revenues while their own business people cannot compete from inside the country. Canada is a very good example of this. The tribal or First Nations groups are the only entities that are able to crack this hold because they have inherent rights to self-government and self-determination so they can basically set up a licensing body, put gaming laws in place and license tribal groups within their jurisdiction for online gaming. Secondly I think the foot-dragging by some governments to license online gaming is a negative. Utilizing licensing bodies that have already been created such as IOM, Alderney, Malta, who are recognized in many jurisdictions would be a great starting point. The citizens of these countries would like the freedom that is enjoyed in other democratic countries yet they are restricted like children from gaming online. They can drive to the local casino and spend money there but not online. It doesn’t make a lot of sense these days.
In your career, what was your smartest move?
Combining music and entertainment with online gambling.
And dumbest one?
Not listening to my older brother in the late 1980’s and developing Hip Hop artists; I thought Hip Hop would never happen in a big way.
Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
Still with my hands in the entertainment businesses and working with creative talents and writing books.
If you’d never embarked on this career, what other line of work would you have liked to pursue?
Acting; I find the idea of taking on other personalities and convincing people they are experiencing the real persona would be very challenging.