The Shaked Brother: 888 Founders
Avi, an active politician and Aaron, a dedicated philanthropist have made a lasting impact on not only the country of Israel, but on the gambling industry as well. The Shaked Brothers are often considered the pioneers of online gambling for their innovative ideas that evolved into the popular 888 gambling websites we know today.
888 Holdings runs and operates a myriad of different online casinos along with selling its own brand-name gambling merchandise. Thanks to the efforts of the Shaked Brothers, 888 Holdings is now a multi-million dollar corporation.
The Establishment of 888
Avi and Aaron Shaked were born in Netanya, Israel. Avi attended Ben Gurion University in Beersheba and graduated with a Bachelor' degree in Chemical Engineering. After college, he worked as a representative at MCI Inc., a telecommunications company. Aaron, a couple years behind his brother, was studying to become a Dentist, when his professor invited him to attend a conference in Monte Carlo.
The conference took place in a casino; the exhilarating ambiance and the thousands of people that were filled with happiness and excitement around him inspired Aaron to consider creating a virtual casino. Aaron approached his brother, Avi, with his idea and together they started developing the online casino website which would later become known as 888.com.
They ran into problems early on though, as neither of them were avid gamblers and they didn't have the necessary knowledge base needed to make their website successful. Aaron and Avi spent months at local casinos, learning the basics of games and getting a better feel for the kind of atmosphere that a poplar casino creates.
It was about this time that they sought out Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, who were more knowledgeable when it came to gambling and software development, to propose an investment partnership with them. The Ben-Yitzhak brothers agreed to join them in their efforts, despite the fact that all four of them had to remortgage their homes in order to have enough starting capital to get the business off its feet.
The Brother's Contributions to 888
After several months of development, 888's first website, Casino-on-Net, was officially launched in May, 1997. It was Aaron's responsibility to look for ways to expand the company and lower production costs. Five years later, they launched their second online casino, Reef Club Casino, and at that time 888's headquarters, management facilities, and deposit servers were located in Antigua where taxes were increasingly high.
In July 2003, thanks to Aaron's cooperation with Gibraltar, 888 was able to obtain a gaming license from them. They moved their operations to Gibraltar immediately, because the taxes were significantly less expensive and gambling wasn't heavily regulated.
Avi saw a need for the establishment of Random Logic Limited which provided research marketing strategies for the advancement of 888 Holdings. The company continued to expand their networks and their work finally paid off when 888 Holdings floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, which was a huge milestone for the company.
In January 2006, inspired by Avi Shaked, 888 had launched a new and improved template for their websites that included an improved graphic interface, enhanced video-slot machines, and more marketing promotions. These innovative ideas offset the loss in revenue from the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which forced 888 Holdings to stop accepting US customers.
It was around this time that both Aaron and Avi decided that it would be in their best interest to step down from their positions at the company to focus on their families and to pursue their other passions.
Life After 888: Avi Shaked
Avi stepped back from the daily operations of the business in order to aid in the establishment of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He helped develop the Geneva Convention, which is where peace talks between the two sides are able to take place in a neutral environment.
He even offered the Palestinian Prime Minister $1 billion to sit down with his Israeli counterpart to discuss a peace agreement. Avi uses his wealth to establish better relations between the Israeli and Palestine governments in any way he can.
In March 2006, he ran for parliament under which he claimed to be "a socialist and a millionaire." His election was unsuccessful, but he did become a member of the Board of Trustees of Bar-Ilan University, so he's still a very influential person in Israel.
Currently, Avi is married with three children. In 2007, Avi and his son Eyal, invested in a chain of coffee shops named Chitta Café and they effectively opened over 130 cafes in China so far. Avi and his family still own about twenty-five percent of 888 Holdings' shares to this day, even though he has no part in company affairs.
Life After 888: Aaron Shaked
Aaron was a good-hearted man who invested his extra time and money into building homes and schools for the poor communities in Israel. He eventually stopped participating in the day to day operations of 888, and instead focused his time on his wife and two children.
Aaron isn't just known for his great accomplishments within the gambling community, but also for his generous contributions to the communities of Israel. He spent a good portion of his profits from 888 Holdings to build houses and schools for underprivileged families in Israel.
Aaron actually teamed up with his daughter, Tal, and founded a holding company that invests in Clean Tech technologies, infrastructures, and other medical devices. He worked with his daughter up until January of 2010, when Aaron passed away at 58 years old after suffering from several persistent health aliments. He left about 25% of 888 Holdings shares to his family though, so they should be able to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: May 2015