Getting to know GAVIN ISAACS
If there’s anyone busier in the gaming space than Gavin Isaacs, we don’t know them.
In January of this year it was announced that Gavin Isaacs would be joining SBTech as its new Non-Exec Chairman. Previously CEO at Scientific Games, Isaacs is a qualified lawyer with a proven track record of successfully leading and establishing companies on strong growth trajectories.
At Scientific Games Isaacs was responsible for championing game-changing mergers and acquisitions and growing the global lottery and gaming supplier from $1.3 billion to $2.9 billion revenues in just two years.
Prior to joining Scientific Games in 2014, he was CEO of SHFL Entertainment, where he grew the company to record revenues, globally expanded its slot business, and created a series of commercial opportunities in speciality table-game brands both in land-based casinos and online.
Isaac also spent five years as COO and Executive Vice President at Bally Entertainment, eventually leading the negotiations to buy his former employer while at Scientific Games in November 2013 for $1.3 billion; a 37% premium in share price and at sector high multiple. Prior to joining Bally Isaacs spent seven years with Aristocrat Technologies in several roles including President, Managing Director and marketing and business development in Las Vegas, London and Sydney.
Casino International Online: So Gavin… why SBTech and why now?
Gavin Isaacs: When I decided to move on from full-time leadership in land-based supplier companies, I wanted to do something in the areas which I believed were important for the future. As a strong believer in online, I saw sports betting as a necessary and obvious initial approach for the US market. I looked at all the advanced offerings in Europe and felt SBTech had the right mix of leading technology, architecture and energy. I met the key players, spent time understanding and testing their objectives and philosophy and was very excited and honoured when they asked me to join their team.
Commenting on Isaacs’ appointment, CEO of SBTech, Richard Carter said: “We’re thrilled that someone of Gavin’s calibre, credibility and experience has chosen to join SBTech. This is a huge coup for the business; Gavin’s two decades of successfully leading, transforming, and acquiring some of the biggest businesses in the gaming sector will be a massive advantage for us, particularly in the US where we have already partnered and gone live with several large brands across multiple states and where there are many more opportunities to grow.”
CIO: What sets SBTech’s technology and capabilities above the others?
GI: The architecture of the product makes it easier to support all the customers and stay up to date with innovations and necessary regulatory changes. I was very excited by the energy and aptitude of the team.
CIO: What experience have you gathered during your previous appointments that you think will serve you best at SBTech?
GI: I’ve been involved in so many great changes over the years… from opening markets for companies ranging from Russia to the USA, bringing new innovations to market, being involved in many mergers and acquisitions, learning from some great leaders and from building great successful teams…. all have taught me so much. I have made many great friends in all areas of the industry globally. I hope I can use that experience and those connections to assist SBTech and all the other great companions I am involved with.
CIO: What are your immediate areas of focus?
GI: Initially it is helping structure the company and assisting it with its expansion into the North American market. All markets are different and my experience in being part of expansions in the past – and understanding what our customers want – is where I am focused right now.
CIO: How do you see the sports betting landscape changing in the next 12 months?
GI: It’s evolving quickly as it should. So many people in the US bet illegally on Sports – it makes so much sense to enable it legally and in a reputable manner. I hope more jurisdictions move online and that more move to both online and retail rather than just retail.
In early June this year Isaacs was also announced as a new addition to casino table games and enhanced systems developer and distributor Galaxy Gaming’s Board of Directors. Mark Lipparelli, Galaxy’s Chairman of the Board, said of Gavin’s appointment: “Gavin brings a rare broad set of skills to the Galaxy Gaming Board including his leadership roles, public company background, international reach and deep industry experience. Our shareholders will benefit a great deal from his contributions to the Board’s efforts in setting the strategic direction of the Company. We are excited to get started.”
Isaacs said: “I believe Galaxy Gaming is in a very unique place, with tremendous opportunities in front of it. I am very pleased to be joining the Board of Directors. I am hopeful that my experience in gaming, especially my time in the table games business, and my experience in M&A, will be helpful in driving Galaxy to the next level.”
On the appointment of Isaacs, Todd Cravens, Galaxy’s CEO added: “I have known Gavin for a number of years and we have always wanted to find a way to work together. As we grow into new markets and new product lines, Gavin’s counsel will be invaluable.”
CIO: How will you be splitting your time between SBTech and your other business concerns?
GI: Most of my efforts at the moment are in a Board Member or advisory capacity. I have selected companies in areas where I believe the future is bright… these companies have great opportunities and bring superior technology to Sports, Online and Lotteries…. and I love the table sector and see lots of opportunities there.
CIO: What’s next for you beyond your current engagements?
GI: Let’s wait and see… I am just getting used to this life and am enjoying it very much. I still think of myself as a young person with lots to learn – even though in most of these companies I am the oldest person on the team!
CIO: Any predictions for the igaming industries across the next 24 months?
GI: Sports will grow very quickly. Hopefully everyone will see how effective from a supplier, customer and regulatory perspective that is and eventually we may see moves to bring online gaming to the US market. Having a 1961 Act dictate how we need to create games solutions and entertainment for the Gaming Industry nearly 60 years later does not make sense. However, let’s start with Sports as nothing happens quickly in gaming!