The Ben-Yitzhak Brothers: 888 Founders

Ron and Shay Ben-Yitzhak, alongside Aaron and Avi Shaked, founded the company
known as 888 Holdings.
Thanks to their contributions, 888 Holdings has been able
to launch some of the most lucrative online casinos in the business. While Ron
and Shay Ben-Yitzhak are no longer involved in its day-to-day operations, their
impact on the company will not be forgotten.

To learn more about the Ben-Yitzhak brothers and their involvement in 888
Holdings, please continue reading their detailed biography. You’ll be able to
gain insight into their childhood, their connection with the Shaked brothers,
and their contributions to this revolutionary business.

The Ben-Yitzhak Brothers: Early Years

Ron and Shay were born in Ashkelon, Israel, in the mid-1960s. Their parents
started having difficulties in their marriage while they were still in grade
school and eventually got divorced as a result. Ron and Shay were forced to
split their time between both parents and had a difficult time with this
adjustment. Since Ron was 2 years older than Shay, he also had to get a job
early on to help support his mother, who had been struggling financially since
the divorce.

Both Ron and Shay got excellent grades in high school, having a natural
talent for mathematics. When it was time for Ron to pick a college to continue
his education, he decided to choose the Israel Institute of Technology to major
in engineering. Shay joined him at the school a couple of years later, with his
major being computer science. It was during their college years that they first
came in contact with the Shaked
, who were attending a university just a few towns over. All four
brothers bonded over their love of arcade games, often staying up all night to
play them.

After college, Ron started working for Zix-Av Engineering as one of their
head engineers. Shay, on the other hand, worked as a software engineer for Tower
Semiconductor Limited. They would often get together on the weekends to play
poker with a group of friends. Every once in a while, they would travel to Egypt
to visit one of the many new casinos that were opening up there. They would play
a variety of games but had a particular interest in poker, roulette, and craps.

Collaborating with the Shaked Brothers

It had been several years since Ron and Shay had seen the Shaked brothers, so
they were pleasantly surprised when they got a phone call from them. Avi and
Aaron Shaked wanted to meet for lunch and said they had something important that
they wanted to discuss. Ron and Shay had no idea what the Shaked brothers were
going to propose, but they were happy to be able to catch up with their
once-close friends.

While at lunch, the Shaked brothers revealed the project they had been
working on for the past few years: a fully accessible online casino. They needed
to find someone who could develop the software and make sure the casino games
gave an accurate representation of the games that were found at an actual
brick-and-mortar casino. Knowing the brothers’ background in engineering and
computer science and their love of casino gambling, they thought Ron and Shay
would be just the men for the job.

Ron and Shay talked it over, and they agreed to help with the project under
two conditions. First, they had to form an official business. After much
discussion, the group decided to name their new business 888 Holdings. Their
second condition was a little more demanding; they wanted an equal part of the
company’s shares and believed that each brother should own 25% of the company.
The Shaked brothers met in private and eventually agreed to give in to their
demands, as long as they were willing to contribute some starting capital to get
the business off the ground.

Shay’s Contributions to 888

Shay’s main responsibility within the company was to develop unique software
for the launch of their first casino. The Shaked brothers had started developing
its software, but it wasn’t very user-friendly. Shay knew their online casino
needed to have an easy-to-use interface so that any player could use it whether
they were tech savvy or not. He made this one of his top priorities, and it
definitely contributed to 888’s success.

Shay also realized that a site’s graphics were going to be extremely
important. Players would be drawn to sites that had enhanced graphics and a rich
color scheme. He made sure to consider aesthetics when it came time to put the
finishing touches on the casino’s software program. Thanks to Shay, 888’s first
casino was very easy on the eyes.

Ron’s Contributions to 888

Once Shay had completed the software, it was Ron’s responsibility to test the
software and make sure there weren’t any glitches in it. He spent hours
navigating his way around the site and playing all the games it had on offer. He
was able to identify two minor issues: the promotions tab on the top of the
screen led to a blank page, and one of their blackjack games took several
minutes to load. Thanks to Ron’s willingness to pay attention to detail, these
issues were resolved before their casino launched.

Ron was also the one who recognized the importance of offering a quality
customer service team, which is something he paid very close attention to before
the casino was open for business. He interviewed each customer service
representative they hired and made sure that they had the proper background
knowledge to answer any questions the customers might have. He also led training
sessions on how to talk with customers in a friendly and respectful manner.

888 Holdings’ Rise and Fall

In May 1997, 888 Holdings’ first casino was finally ready to launch.
Casino-on-Net was a huge success, attracting players from all over the world and
bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars on a monthly basis. Players were
impressed by the quality of games they had on offer and the level of customer
service that was provided to them. After about a year, they were ready to launch
their second casino, Reef Club Casino, which came complete with an updated
software system and a wider selection of games.

Now they were making millions of dollars on a monthly basis and were
continually looking for ways to expand. They started running advertisements in
countries where they weren’t attracting many players, and this seemed to
increase the number of people who visited their site. Things were looking
positive when it came to the future of this company.

Everything changed in 2006 when the United States passed the Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This law made it illegal for 888
Holdings, and any other online casino, for that matter, to accept customers from
the United States. This law severely diminished their yearly revenue.

Life After 888: Ron Ben-Yitzhak

After hearing about the UIGEA, Ron was eager to leave the company so that he
could spend more time with his family. He was married with 3 children at the
time with a fourth one on the way. He sold most of his shares of the company and
stopped his involvement in its day-to-day operations.

He used the money from 888 Holdings to build a luxury home for his family.
When it was finished, it had 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, and a large swimming pool
in the backyard. Ron enjoyed his early retirement and the financial freedom that
he now had thanks to his involvement in 888 Holdings.

Life After 888: Shay Ben-Yitzhak

Shay stayed with 888 Holdings a little longer than his brother did, accepting
the position as a non-executive member of the board. He attended board meetings
and got to voice his opinion concerning any changes the board attempted to make.
He stayed in this position for 4 years, and then he finally decided to retire.

Chairman Richard Kilsby said this after receiving word about Shay’s
retirement: “I would like to express on behalf of the board and all at the
company our appreciation of Shay’s contribution as one of the original founders
of the business, and in growing the company from its infancy to where it is now.
We wish him all the best for the future.”

Shay has spent his retirement traveling the world with his family. They have
visited dozens of different countries, including Spain, France, Turkey, and
Switzerland, to name a few. When they aren’t traveling, they can often be found
giving back to their community. Shay and his family are actively involved in
community clean-up programs, where they volunteer to pick up trash in various
cities in Israel. Through this program, they have also helped restore several
different parks.


Both Shay and Ron have worked hard to make 888 Holdings a successful
business. Without Shay’s ability to create a user-friendly software and without
Ron’s brilliant idea to focus on providing excellent customer service, we doubt
the company would be where it is today. We are thankful for their contributions
to 888 Holdings, and we hope they continue to enjoy their well-deserved