How Intertops Got Things Started

Intertops is tough to skip when discussing the

history of online gambling sites
. In 1983, they were the
first to open a legal sportsbook in one country for the purpose
of targeting another. In 1996, they launched the first ever
online sportsbook followed by the first mobile betting site in
2000. Then in 2003, they became the first gambling site to make
sports betting, poker, and casino accessible from a single
log-in and centralized player bank. While today their website is
a bit old-fashioned, this amazing company has accomplished a
great-deal with no footsteps to follow. Below is an account of
their history.

An Early Competitor to the German Monopoly

The founder of Intertops started his gambling career in 1982
as an illegal German bookmaker. It seems a bit strange that
while legal betting has long existed in Germany, in the 1980’s,
it was restricted to a state-run monopoly near unbeatable due to
a sizeable tax rate that shortened the odds. Illegal bookmakers
had no added taxes and therefore could offer more competitive
prices. Though a decent idea, legal concerns resulted in the
bookmaker moving to the UK in 1983 where he founded Intertops.

From the UK, the business was licensed and initially subject
to tax. While not as competitive as back home, the tax was low
enough to price better than the German monopoly. Targeting savvy
punters who understood the importance of getting the best price,
Intertops would receive checks mailed weeks before a wagered
event. By 1992, it grew into a toll-free phone-in sportsbook
targeting most of the world, but still specializing in football

Simon Noble

In 1989, an 18-year old university student named Simon Noble
took a position in the London office of Intertops as a ticket
writer. It turned out this kid had a talent for the business and
some incredible marketing ideas, of which management took
notice. In 1992, Intertops moved to Austria, and the young man
stuck with the company. In 1994, Noble was promoted to
management and headed the Internet expansion team. The goal was
to become the first ever online sportsbook. We will return to
him shortly.

The First Online Sports Bet

On January 17, 1996, a punter from Finland, Jukka Honkavaara,
logged onto and staked $50 that Tottenham Hotspur
would defeat Hereford United. They did and by a wide margin, 5-1
to be exact. Of course, this was expected as the odds were 1.04,
and Mr. Honkavaara profited just $2.00. Far more significant
than the two Washington bills is the fact that this wager was
the first ever sports bet placed online. This made
the first ever Internet sportsbook.

Mobile Betting and All-in-One

Quite often,
Ron Sacco of is mistakenly credited
as being the first bookmaker to move to a new country in order
to legally offer sports betting to his home country. Of course,
the second of four felony bookmaking convictions that carried a
second consecutive 3-year prison sentence proved Ron Sacco’s
idea wasn’t exactly legal. Aside from the fact that D.T. of
Intertops was legal, he was also first. Ron Sacco was in 1985
while D.T. was in 1983.

This, plus launching the first ever
sportsbook, were only two of Intertops’ firsts. In addition,
they launched the first ever mobile betting site in 2000; and in
2003, they became the first to offer sports betting, poker, and
casino games from the same website log-in and player account
bank. The latter came when in 2003, they became the first skin
of PartyPoker.

Simon Noble Marketing Genius

While Intertops had first mover advantage from every possible
angle, none of this gave them a greater boost than that provided
by their man Simon Noble. From writing tickets at age 18 in 1989
to heading up their Internet expansion team in 1994, he’d become
their CEO. While serving this role, he generated some amazing
ideas. He was best at persuading major media to mention He’d do press releases such as “odds maker is predicting gas prices reach…” or “odds maker is predicting X wins the next presidential
election.” Some of these were quite controversial, but he’d get
betting odds posted, then nudge the media. We can recall at
least a half-dozen times when was mentioned in an
article featured on the home page of Yahoo, MSN, and other major
early Internet portals.

Perhaps due to how easy it was for Noble to get media
attention, something got to his head. He attempted some pretty
nutty things in his day, but sometimes they actually worked. As
one example, in late 2001, he started various marketing skits
about how players didn’t trust computers and why Internet casino
games had a limited future. He then followed up by launching a
new casino game wherein the results couldn’t be rigged. This was
called Moolette: a crazy live game with cows as the dealers.
Intertops painted a giant 65-foot roulette wheel on a field and
released cows to roam around. The feat was video-streamed and
bets were placed on where the next cow plop would land. Entirely
sincere, this was more than just a publicity stunt; they
actually took bets on the game. Meanwhile, hundreds of forums
were filled with comments about how stupid an idea it was,
giving Intertops even more exposure.

Executives of other companies knew the worth of Simon Noble.
It wasn’t long before Intertops was one of the largest betting
sites everyone else was attempting to copy. The founder of
Bodog, then using the pseudonym Cole Turner, got tabloid
gambling911 to report all sorts of made-up stories about his
wild escapades in South East Asia shot in Thailand using mostly
massage parlor and bargirls as actresses. Foolishly, these guys
eventually took it too far. They actually published that Cole
had been captured by the Cambodian army while doing mission
work. The story actually caused a run on the bank with bettors
rushing to cash out now that Bodog’s CEO, and perhaps owner, was
mostly likely dead. He came out of hiding to explain that his
real name was Calvin Ayre and that the past couple years of
gambling news was fabricated. This brought plenty of negative

Back to Moolette: even if you thought it was a stupid idea,
there was no reason to hate it. Even if you did hate it and told
others, it was potentially positive press and no doubt exposure.
This is one of the reasons Simon Noble was a marketing genius.
He used his smarts and often covered serious topics; even these
would occasionally find their way into the mainstream media,
along with his marketing stunts.

Masters of Retention

In June of 2002, Simon Noble left Intertops to become the CEO
of World Wide Tele Sports (WWTS) purchased by Bodog in 2006. He
went on to become the Marketing Director of Pinnacle Sports. Our
history of Pinnacle Sports touches on the wonders he did with
that company, including his invention of the Pinnacle Pulse.

Intertops did, however, have a ton of momentum at the time
Noble left. Their addition of a Party Poker skin came in 2003;
and then during 2005, the Head of Marketing, Michl Posch, pushed
their upcoming 10-year anniversary. The first ever sportsbook
was a considerable sell and he helped get the needed press.
However, since UIGEA, other than an affiliate program, it
doesn’t appear that Intertops has been aggressive in recruiting
new players.

What Intertops is great at is player retention. There are all
sorts of season and tournament-long promos for various leagues
and competitions. Reload bonuses are common, as are cash
giveaways. Their banking methods are second to none, with many
ways to request payouts. In our opinion, this is a great company
who pulled off many impressive accomplishments with no footsteps
to follow. Considering their main draw is taking care of
existing account holders, if you’ve never had an account here
before, it’s well worth trying out. Unfortunately, no new US
players are being accepted, but players living elsewhere can
register and claim a bonus at