Casino Insider: 5 Influential Personalities of the Gambling World

Playing slots isn’t cutting it anymore? Do you want to learn more about the history of the gaming industry? Here are five of the most powerful people in the gambling industry.

  1. James Maida

James Maida is a casino industry legend. As a lawyer in the New Jersey regulatory system, he quickly realized that his agency was being swamped with requests to test slot machine systems, so he started doing it himself out of his spare bedroom in his apartment. Gaming Laboratories International has evolved into an international company that serves the needs of both the gaming industry and regulators. The recent coronavirus pandemic has altered the world, and GLI is at the forefront. Maida recognizes that remote access to games will be a significant change, and regulators will want to ensure that transparency and integrity are maintained.

  1. Denise Coates

Denise Coates suspected the Internet would dominate sports betting. Several websites offered virtual betting, although the business was relatively new. While building the family business, Denise recognized an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of something major.

Denise Coates purchased the domain name back in January 2000, and then she quickly realized that the expense of developing the site and properly launching it would necessitate a large cash infusion. She initially approached several venture capitalists around London but left those meetings with no investors.

Undaunted, she sought assistance from her father, extended family, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The latter gave her a loan of around 18 million dollars in exchange for collateralizing the family’s betting shops.

The company’s success was assured by 2005. Denise was able to sell the family’s land-based betting shops to Coral for more than $50 million, with a portion of the profits used to repay the Royal Bank of Scotland for their initial loan.

Denise’s efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Bet365 earned more than $187 million in profits.

  1. Edward O. Thorp

The 10 Count System was first described in the book Beat the Dealer by Edward Thorp. It is a way for blackjack players to improve their chances of winning. It was not the first card counting system, but it was the first widely available to the general public. This fact is very important because it made gambling and the game of blackjack known to a whole new group of people.

The goal of the system is to lower the house edge by having players bet more when they have a better chance of getting a good hand. The system is designed to be used with a single deck of cards.

Instead, casinos slowly started adding games with more than one deck that were dealt from a shoe, and players eventually got used to these changes.

As one might expect, Edward Thorp’s mathematical prowess has enabled him to amass a fortune. His legacy in the world of games is secure, and his peers in the mathematics community look up to him. Not bad for a kid who used to have fun by blowing things up.

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  1. Archie Karas

Karas’ first six-month run started when he drove to Las Vegas with $50 and played poker and pool to turn a $10,000 loan into about $17 million. After losing his entire bankroll, Karas drove to Vegas in December 1992 with his car and $50 in his wallet. He conned a Los Angeles poker player into handing him $10,000 at The Mirage. Karas made $30,000 playing $200/400 limit Razz. Karas returned $20,000 to his backer. In 2.5 years, he won $40 million.

In 1995, he lost most of his money in three weeks, ending his streak.

Archie exemplifies the rags-to-riches tales we all enjoy hearing. However, his story takes a dramatic turn. No matter how much he won, he was never satisfied. Unfortunately, this is the case for many people in his situation. Most professional gamblers will tell you that it’s not all about the money; it’s also about the game and the action.

Archie was the same way. He couldn’t care less about the money; he was more interested in what was going on around him and the game he was playing.

  1. Jack Lam

According to a 2015 Shanghai Business Review (SBR) article, Lam was a natural with wealthy gamblers because he understood their motivations well and catered to their each and every whim, which allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the greatest service industry.”

Lam’s connections with well-renowned kingpins assisted in the development of his casino empire.

With his 30 years of experience, Lam rose to become one of the most influential figures in the Macau gaming industry. He was listed as one of the ten most influential people in the industry by Global Gambling Business Magazine in 2009. 


There are various types of big names in the gaming industry. Whether it’s the gambler who bet it all and lost it all, the geniuses who invented machines and methods to “beat the house,” or the one-in-a-million success stories of someone winning big — there are great stories of great people out there influencing the gaming industry for good or bad.

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