Dreyfus on iGaming: ‘Not About Whether You Are Going to Eat Someone or Be Eaten’

Written by:
Ace King
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Dreyfus on iGaming: ‘Not About Whether You Are Going to Eat Someone or Be Eaten’

Alexandre Dreyfus, founder of Chili Poker and now the head of the Global Poker Index, is celebrating his 10th year in online gambling and Gambling911.com would like to take this time to congratulate him as this is no small feat.  After all we have seen countless numbers of "executives" come and go during this time.

Prior to ten years ago, the Frenchman had never bet online.  One could argue he is among the industry’s most successful businesspeople and certainly a pioneer when it comes to online poker.

“On 22 April, 2004 Malta (a popular online gambling hub) was going to enter the European Union and I got seduced by the opportunity of building something new that was not common,” he writes on his Facebook page.  “The genesis of my jump into the Gambling industry was actually a need of going abroad and learning English.”

Prior to entering the explosive new industry with online poker just taking off at that time, Dreyfus had been an entrepreneur in France for the better part of eight years.  He also went bankrupt thanks to what he describes as  “the nice related things attached including many years of debts”

“All the press/articles that were telling nice things about me, were telling bad things. I always remember the best example of the French mentality. I was in my hometown, driving my kind of a small sportscar at that time (Audi S3), I was 24 I think.

“I went to buy my French baguette (obviously). There is guy, that I don’t know, stopping me in the middle of the street and telling me: ‘I see that Webcity pays well’, with his sarcastic smile. This random guy (45yo), not knowing my personal situation, not knowing that my car was like anybody else – bought with a bank loan – was just judging me because he saw me in every single local newspapers, radio and TV and I was an easy target.

"Like the food chain, it is not about if you are going to eat someone or being eaten, it’s about serving a purpose in a global picture."

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“I was fuming, but I learnt a lesson that day. Everybody can’t like you. Some people will understand what you do, some people will not. I’m a charmer, I like to seduce, and I always like to try to convince people of the good that I’m trying to do. So, yes I felt hurt when this kind of ‘aggressions’ happened and I still do.

“I’m sure that eventually, I can look sometimes like a spoilt brat, very arrogant (French genes) that wants to promote/show its business whatever is the cost. I’m probably not always understood, likely because my English is far from being perfect, and because I’m still in a learning process on how to communicate with the world. Could I me more humble? Probably. Could I be more discreet? Definitively.”

When Dreyfus entered the online gambling realm to start Chili Poker his goal was to be as transparent as possible.

“My marketing angle, was to actually promote it like any other company, with a not-so young entrepreneur at the head and that tells what he want to do, why and how. I believed that, at that time, the gaming industry was too much shady and the best way to develop it, is to expose it.

“As an entrepreneur, I know as well, that whatever you plan, it will never exactly happen as you want, but the vision always stays (the same). The destination is always the same, just the path changes.

“I learnt as well, that beside transparency and communication, the key is the innovation. At the years of Chilipoker, we launched many promotions that were a first at that time, we launched the DeepStackOpen.com (still running after 5 seasons).”

He added: “We’ve been voted by our peers, few years in a row in the top 50 companies that count in the gaming industry, etc … Blablabla.”

Dreyfus had learned from his previous mistakes and eventually ended up selling his successful online gambling enterprise to the world’s second largest gaming provider in the world, Bally Technologies out of Las Vegas.

“I was proud, me the little French who moved to Malta, that made a deal with a leading American gambling company. Yeah, that’s an achievement, not only for me, but for the people I was working with. But what will stay, at the end? What will people remember? Does it matter?”

Now Dreyfus wants to focus now on what his friend termed the “positive economy”.  The reference is made to the creation of green energy and services that will help revolutionize the world. 

“He reminded me, that I’m working in the gambling industry, and that’s somehow its not really positive.”

Dreyfus explains: “At the end of the day, the goal of gaming companies is actually to take money from their players. Fair enough, fair point. I’ll argue that actually it’s the case of all business, to provide a service to a customer, and the customer pays [for that service].

“Gaming is entertainment, like the movie industry. It sells dreams and thrills. Should I be ashamed to work in this world? I don’t think so. I could argue that my focus always has been poker and not (the) casino, meaning that the profits of my past business were not actually generated by the losses of my players (like casinos), but a small commission of the money that is played BETWEEN players. Does it make me a better man? Definitively not.

“Even though, I agree with my friend (he can be grumpy) about working in the green energy or trying to build a service that will improve life of others, I wish I could do that, yes, I don’t think being an entrepreneur in the gaming industry is a bad thing. I actually don’t think being a stakeholder in the gaming industry – especially poker;) – is a bad thing. Should we blame poker dealers, bloggers, developers, designers, customer care, etc … that are related to our industry, because we all, collectively promote gambling? I don’t think so. Does it mean we have a responsibility to make it, collectively, better: Yes.

“As an entrepreneur, today, its my 10th anniversary of having decided to work, invest and dedicate my time to the gambling industry. It changed all my life, in many ways, professionally and personally. As an entrepreneur, I have been lucky and successful till now, but I know that anytime I can fail. And what if? What if I fail? Will it be negative economy?

“No, it would have been positive: for 10 years, I have spent my energy to dedicate my resources to develop things I believe in, to bring onboard people I like to work with and to eventually be part of an ecosystem that is bigger than me. I have created direct jobs for hundreds of people, supported initiatives that could have never existed, being the sparkle and the genesis of many projects (even if they are not mine). It did affect the economy, positively. Like the food chain, it is not about if you are going to eat someone or being eaten, it’s about serving a purpose in a global picture. As long as you believe in that, as long as you know who you are and what you serve, then you will bring a positive legacy.

“But from now on, I’ll promise to my friend, that when I bet on the Roulette, I’ll never do it on Red or Black, but always on Green.”

- Ace King, Gambling911.com

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