Roger Raatgever: CEO of Microgaming
No one has been more influential in the growth of Microgaming than Roger Raatgever, the company's current CEO. Raatgever not only helped Microgaming in the very early stages of its development, but he also has continued working with the company through its many milestones. He developed a passion for the gambling industry, and his innovativeness and willingness to take risks is what has turned Microgaming into the multi-billion-dollar business it is today.
Please continue reading this detailed biography if you'd like more information about Roger Raatgever. We cover his childhood, his educational background, his contributions to Microgaming, and his personal life. You are bound to learn something you never knew before.
Roger Raatgever was born on July 6, 1970, in the small town of Stellenbosch, South Africa, to his parents Richard and Marie Raatgever. His father owned a small vineyard on the outskirts of town, while his mother worked at a local cafe on the weekends. Raatgever was the oldest of 7 children, having 6 younger sisters to look after.
Raatgever's parents ingrained in him the importance of hard work at an early age, encouraging him to get a job once he turned 14 years old. He worked as the maintenance person for the same the cafe his mother waitressed at. He was responsible for mopping the floors, thoroughly cleaning the kitchen appliances, and fixing chairs and other miscellaneous items that broke throughout the day. He would work two hours every night of the week except for Sunday. Later, he became a waiter for the cafe, working over 50 hours per week during the summers.
Raatgever's work ethic stayed with him throughout college. He enrolled in Stellenbosch University, where he would graduate with a bachelor's degree in business. His final GPA for all four years was a perfect 4.0. With the scholarships he received from getting good grades in high school and the money he saved from working at the cafe all those years, he was able to graduate without any debt.
Microgaming Is Born
After college, Raatgever started working at Discover Bank Limited. He worked one on one with clients to handle their personal loans and investments. One of his clients was a man named Martin Moshal, who wanted to take out a loan to form his own software company. It was his dream to develop online casino games that everyone would enjoy playing.
Unfortunately, his credit score was not high enough, and his loan got denied. Raatgever believed that his business could be successful and offered to co-sign on his loan in exchange for a 50% stake in the company. Moshal willingly agreed to Raatgever's offer, and Microgaming officially launched in 1994.
When asked in an interview with Independent News why he helped get Microgaming off its feet, Raatgever answered, "I was in the rat race working in merchant banking and thought it was an exciting opportunity. I had very little knowledge about [the sector] but for me it had all the elements of excitement. I'm an adrenaline junkie."
In 1998, under Raatgever's leadership, Microgaming launched its first slot game, which was called Cash Splash. This game stood out among all other casino games that were on the market because it was the first game to be attached to a progressive jackpot. The jackpot would continue to increase in size until someone won it. This was a revolutionary idea, and it caused some of the biggest online casinos to make Microgaming their main game provider: BetVictor, Ladbrokes, and 32Red.
Helping the Industry Stay on Track
One of the major problems Raatgever faced as CEO of Microgaming was erasing the bad stigma that was often associated with his line of work. Many players were hesitant to use Microgaming products because they had been ripped off by similar companies in the past. In an attempt to remedy this problem, Raatgever collaborated with some of his competitors in the industry to form the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC).
The IGC helps regulate the online gambling market to ensure games are being played fairly and players are not being taken advantage of. Here is a portion from their mission statement explaining their standards for sites: "Noteworthy gaming sites are those that have cultivated their reputation through ethical means, building their credibility through fair play and fair treatment of their clientele."
Raatgever also joined the eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) commission when it was first established in 2003, becoming one of their board members. eCOGRA tests the fairness and safety of online games. They are an accredited certification body that only gives their seal of approval to games that are both fair and of extremely high quality.
Microgaming Continues to Thrive
Raatgever continually looks for ways to make Microgaming stand out among all its major competitors like Betsoft, NetEnt, and Playtech. In 2005, Microgaming launched its first co-branded slot game: Tomb Raider. This slot featured graphics from both the comic strip and movie. This move caused thousands of people who had never played slot games before to be drawn to Microgaming's selection of slots, and soon co-branded slot games would become the industry standard.
Over the years, they released slot games based off other popular movies and television series like Batman, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones, Jurassic Park, and the Terminator. Sometimes they even have clips from the movie featured in the slot's intro videos. Microgaming's slots are known to contain vibrant graphics and provide hours of entertainment.
They are also known for offering a high number of pay lines. After several emails came in suggesting Microgaming offer more pay lines on their slots, Raatgever worked closely with his developers to make that happen. In 2008, Microgaming became the first company to launch an online slot with 100 pay lines. Prior to that year, most slot games only offered 30 to 50 pay lines. Once again, thanks to Raatgever, Microgaming was ahead of its competition.
Microgaming currently has over 1200 different titles to choose from, many of which are accompanied by large jackpots. In fact, their Mega Moolah slot jackpot has soared past $8 million on more than one occasion. Raatgever realizes that players are encouraged to play more often when they have a chance to win a significant amount of money, so he sets his jackpots' baseline higher than most other software companies would ever dare.
When the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, it became illegal for casinos to serve US customers. This was worrisome for Raatgever, as he knew many US-facing casinos were using their software. He did not want to risk the future of the company by staying in that market, so he closed their US-facing business and released the US-facing casinos from their contracts. Microgaming initially lost some revenue as a result, but they have since been able to recover their losses by picking up more clients in countries across Asia and Europe. They set a new record in 2017, as their total revenue for the year surpassed $1 billion.
Microgaming Gives Back
Since Microgaming has been so successful over the years, Raatgever felt it was necessary to start a charity in its honor. He formed the Microgaming Health and Care Trust, which would later be called PlayItForward. Through this organization, Microgaming has funded several charity projects across the Isle of Man.
Some of these projects include setting up automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at various populated hotspots around the island, updating the island's public libraries to make sure they feature newer books, upgrading equipment in outdated playgrounds, and donating medical supplies to local hospitals.
More recently, in 2017, Microgaming hosted a charity poker tournament to raise money for the Save the Rhino foundation, a group that works hard to protect endangered rhinos across Africa and Asia. Their donation was used to build a national park in Africa to house both rhinos and elephants so that they will not be killed by poachers. Microgaming's charity work has slowly but surely started to expand beyond the Isle of Man.
Being the CEO of Microgaming takes up a lot of Raatgever's time and energy, as he often works 70-hour work weeks. When he does find time to take a break, he usually takes that time to spend with his family. He is married to Rachel Raatgever, and they have two children: Marcus (15) and Sadie (12).
When he isn't with his family, he will probably be found out on the golf course. He plays golf almost every morning, as he finds it to be a very relaxing way to start the day. He enjoys playing golf so much that he actually built his own golf course on his property. His golf course is spread over 70 acres of land and contains 9 holes.
Roger Raatgever is a successful businessman who has dedicated over two decades of his life to being the CEO of Microgaming. He was there when the company launched its first slot game, and he hopes to be with the company until he retires. His innovative ideas and his drive to provide the best service possible are why Microgaming continues to be one of the leading software companies in the online casino industry.