The name Mark Rivkin will be familiar only to industry veterans aware of the industry’s short history, but he and his brother Andrew can claim to have had a major impact in the pioneering days of online gambling, founding the Cryptologic software brand twenty years ago.
The Canadian duo, barely out of university and working from the basement of their parent’s home, were among the very first young entrepreneurs to develop software that laid the foundations for today’s multi-billion dollar online gambling business.
They leveraged their ground-breaking technology into an online gambling software and operational group that became one of the leaders in the burgeoning global industry with brands like Intercasino, and still exists today, albeit in a more muted form and under new owners.
And Cryptologic proved to be a fertile venue for the development of several of today’s high profile
executives, among them John Fitzgerald (Intertain), Andre Edelbrock (Ethoca), Jon Moss (bet365), and Jim Ryan (Pala Interactive and former CEO at Party Gaming).
The Rivkin’s achievements were acknowledged in an interesting article published this week by the
Canadian publication Financial Post.
The article concentrates on Mark Rivkin (still only 43 years old), who exited the industry 11 years ago and currently runs the Helix Healthcare holistic mind-body addiction clinic in Toronto.
It also covers the subsequent careers of some of the top men who made Cryptologic a force to be
reckoned with before it went into decline, and traces recent developments through Amaya and Intertain that could see a resurgence in its operational activity.
In one Rivkin anecdote, he reveals that in order to demonstrate this revolutionary technology to investors in trying to raise their first $1.5 million in capital, the brothers would pack their full-scale desktop Intel Pentium 90 into the family car and lug it to meetings, hooking and unhooking its cables everywhere they took it.
Investors took a lot of convincing; in those early pioneering days they would make comments like: “It’s
interesting what you guys are doing, but nobody is going to trust putting their credit card in over the
Internet to spend money, and they’re not going to trust that the software you guys have developed is fair.”
Rivkin also explains how they familiarised their game developers with the sounds and sights of a real
casino, taking them to land casinos to give them the “feel” and help them create an online version that
was credible. It was a tactic that worked; back in the day Cryptologic was respected for the sheer quality of its graphics and performance.
Having achieved more than they had set out to do, including the achievement of Toronto Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange listings, the brothers finally departed the business in 2003 and sold their stakes in the company – in retrospect perhaps a smart move, bearing in mind the implementation of the UIGEA in 2006.
Rivkin sums up his feelings about his involvement in the industry by saying: “We had a wonderful
experience, we did what we set out to accomplish, which was to build CryptoLogic into a leader in the
industry. I wouldn’t go back and change anything.”
Read the full article here: