Who’s who: Rob Wheeler

When did you first get involved with the gaming industry?
I started in the land-based gaming industry back in 2003.

What are you responsible for at Cozy Games?
I am responsible for driving new business and looking after new and existing customer relationships.

What attracted you to this sector?
I saw the exponential growth of online gaming and decided I wanted to move across from land-based in 2005; when IGT bought WagerWorks that same year it flagged them to me as the content provider to join. I started with WW (now IGT Interactive) in 2006.

What were you doing prior to the gaming industry?
Prior to gaming I’d worked for a Telecoms Software provider. In 2003 the bottom had fallen out of the Telco market and I was looking to move.
I met up with (my now good friend) Rob Dowling, CEO of Pentasia and he told me about a role he had on his books with a land-based gaming software company that had its headquarters in Guildford (20 mins drive from where I live), Research and Development based in St. Petersburg, Russia and Offices in Bogota, Columbia and I thought… well, that sounds interesting, I’ll have some of that!.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time?
Well for the industry UEIGA certainly closely followed by the onset of regulated markets. I remember hearing Professor I. Nelson Rose give a keynote speech at GIGSE 2006 in Montreal, it was titled “The Leviathan Is Coming” he was warning the then .com gaming industry that regulation was coming and coming soon. The audience (especially the US-facing businesses) paid little attention as they had had it so good for so long, he was right on the money! Forgive the pun.

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What are the biggest positive factors for the mobile gaming sector right now?
The paradigm shift from online to mobile. Sportsbooks are reporting up to 50%+ of revenue is now coming from mobile, and casino is following suit. Tablet and mobile devices will be the “new online”.

And what are the negative ones – the obstacles to growth?
Navigating regulatory requirements, of course. For mobile specifically there is still work to be done; managing the wide variety of handsets is a challenge but one that Cozy relishes. Getting affiliates comfortable with driving traffic to mobile is a key challenge, get that right and revenues will explode!

Looking at your entire career, what do you think was your smartest move?
Moving from the land-based gaming industry to online in 2006.

And dumbest?
Mmmm, which one to choose… probably selling a digital poker table to a very scary looking Serbian and then agreeing to go with it to Belgrade for the three month trial (well, you should have seen the croupier). Luckily the deal fell through!

Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
Working remotely from a nice yacht sipping Krug.

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