This week, we have asked Sue Schneider to share some of her favourite stories of then to now in a bid to capture a summary of iGaming’s exciting past as we face a new thrilling future …
Starting in the iGaming business in 1995, it was definitely a different era. I had a consumer site called Rolling Good Times Online that probably was actually one of the first affiliate sites in the business. We had contracts for advertising with the likes of PAF and Interlotto (a lottery site out of Liechtenstein run by the indomitable Adriaan Brink). We covered content on how to play blackjack and other consumer-oriented articles.
I became fluent with the gambling sites cropping up all over the internet and got to know the operators and suppliers. At the time, many of the companies were based in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were hubs) and in South Africa (Microgaming). By the fall of 1996, we pulled many of those folks together at G2E in Las Vegas and launched the first trade association which became IGC (Interactive Gaming Council). At its peak, we had about 120 member companies.
I co-founded IGC with Albe Angel and served as its Chair from 96-’04. It was an amazing experience and I truly loved the public policy work. There were always less than a handful of women in the room at our meetings. One was Ruth Parasol who owned Party Poker. Another was Micky Oster who worked for a Microgaming licensee in the early days an went on in ’09 to do dispute resolution for the Kahnawake Mohawks. And yet another was Jenny Solursh who worked with Cryptologic.
People say the industry started out as the Wild West back in the day and it truly was. Our efforts were to keep prohibition at bay and advocate for self-regulation since there was a void of government regulation at the time. You will never find a more talented, creative and fun set of entrepreneurs than those who populated the early days of internet gambling. It’s really too bad that they were run off by the US government (but then that’s a topic for a book I’ve got percolating in me.)
In ’99, I broke off from my partner and took iGaming News with me to concentrate on the B2B side of the industry. I never really felt comfortable on the consumer side since my dirty little secret is that I don’t gamble. We launched GIGSE early that year and went on to build many more tradeshows, conferences and publications which we subsequently sold.
It’s been a great ride and I’ve been fortunate to make so many great friends along the way. My love is still advocating for the industry and even though I’m now semi-retired, I’m pleased to be able to join SBC (Sports Betting Community) for the ride of watching this product take hold in the US. Frankly, I never thought it would happen in my lifetime so to see its proliferation is truly fun to behold.