888 Casino On Net Interview - Behind the worlds largest Web Casino

..........Or maybe not. The point is that 888 Casino On Net and Anderson's industry has a monumental image problem, which poses a mortal threat to his money machine.

Interview With 888 Casino On Net

And so he has embarked on one of the biggest long shots in business today: He's trying to clean up the online gambling industry.

He's lobbying for regulation -- anathema to many of his colleagues -- in hopes that a "legalize it, regulate it" message will stave off the authorities. But more fundamentally, he is trying to show, through the exacting and open way he's building his own business, that online gambling is not just the shadowy province of hustlers, ex-cons, and the occasional fugitive. "We have to be cleaner than clean, transparent," he says.

Dragging the industry into the daylight won't be easy. But a lot is at stake. A fully legal online gaming industry wouldn't be a $4 billion-a-year proposition; it could peel off much of the $150 billion gamblers spend in Vegas and anywhere else you can lay down a legal bet. Anderson has already made some headway. And in his dreamed-of world of highly regulated and stigma-free online gambling, 888 Casino on Net isn't a $200 million business. It's a billion-dollar business -- at least. "The opportunity is truly huge," he says. "It's exponential."

888 Casino on Net was conceived in 1996 at, of all things, a dentistry convention. True, it was in Monte Carlo, and there among the baccarat tables and roulette wheels, Israeli dentist Aaron Shaked concluded that a Web casino could be more rewarding than pulling molars. He brought the idea to his brother, who knew a pair of computer engineers. The four co-founders remortgaged their homes to bankroll the company and buy a $100,000 gaming license from the island of Antigua.

Hundreds of sites offering more or less the same games and a similar look and feel launched at about the same time, but what quickly set 888 Casino on Net apart was that it poured most of its profits into developing a highly sophisticated Web marketing system. Its real-time tracking software, developed by graduates of Israel's famed Technion institute, monitored the results of banner ads and pop-ups on thousands of websites simultaneously and could instantly boost the company's presence on productive sites while dumping laggards. As rivals squandered millions on offline advertising and fancy websites, 888 Casino on Net trained this powerful technological vacuum on a hunt for the sizable fraction of the population that likes to gamble frequently. The bets rolled in. More than 7 million people have downloaded 888 Casino on Net game software. The company currently has about 300,000 active customer accounts.

By early 2000 the founders realized they needed a seasoned manager, and turned to Anderson. His first job, at age 12, had been delivering hot buns at 3 a.m. to factory workers in his native Dundee, and he never attended college. In the late 1960s, he sang and played guitar in a rock band that had one immortal moment: It was on the same bill as a group that included future members of Led Zeppelin -- and Anderson's band was the headline act. But his real gift lay in a knack for numbers, and it won him a cashier's job at Ladbrokes, the gaming giant that transformed two-bit bookmaking into a respected business with betting parlors all over Britain. He rose quickly, moved over to the hotel side of the business after Ladbrokes bought Hilton Group PLC, and wound up running the company's real estate division. He left in 1996 and later led a buyout of Burford Group, owner of London's landmark Trocadero retail complex. Through business contacts in Israel, he met 888 Casino on Net's ultra-private founders.

"I did my due diligence," Anderson says. "They checked out 100 percent."

They may have checked out, but a lot of people in the business did not -- especially down in Antigua, where 888 Casino on Net had its license. A lovely little Caribbean spot with lax extradition laws and a carefree attitude toward games of chance, Antigua had become the main global headquarters of online gaming -- the Vegas of the virtual world. It also had attracted a cast of characters that anti-online-gambling forces could hardly help but notice.

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