MTV founder Tom Freston once said, “Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” For Freston, it was music and television. For Martin Moshal, it was the Internet and the casino.
Moshal is the man credited with creating the world’s first online casino software. In 1994, the WorldWideWeb emerged from the shadows of development and the real Internet revolution began.
Moshal had just graduated from the University of Durban, armed with both ambition and a degree in information systems, finance, accounting, business administration and economics; a role call of the qualities needed to run an online casino.
In fact, what Moshal wanted to do was start his own software company, creating unique casino games for the new internet platform. To start the business, Moshal needed a loan and contacted South African bank Discover Bank Limited where he met family spirit Roger Raatgever, working as a loan and business adviser.
The loan was declined due to Moshal’s non-existent credit rating. However, Raatgever sensed something special in both the idea and its protagonist. He offered to guarantee the loan for a fifty percent share of the business. Moshal accepted and Microgaming was born, from a small apartment in Durban.
Raatgever admits to being an adrenaline junkie. In a 2006 interview, he said: “It happened out of the blue. I was in a rush working in investment banking and thought it was an exciting opportunity. I had very little knowledge of [the sector] but for me it had all the elements of excitement. I am an adrenaline junkie. I want to seize each day and suck the marrow out of it.
In 1998, after four years of development, Microgaming launched the world’s first progressive online slot machine: Cash Splash. The game was a success. The idea of an online progressive jackpot, which would accumulate quickly, was revolutionary. This has persuaded many large operators to choose Microgaming as their online casino software provider.
Microgaming was lucky. Martin Moshal went by the nickname “CyberSol”, after Sun City entrepreneur Sol Kerzner, and has filed dozens of patents for the technology behind games, including jackpot betting systems, slot machine games virtual slots and certain bonus promotions.
In 2001, Microgaming moved to the Isle of Man. In the mid-2000s, it was the dominant force in the development and supply of online casino software, with over a third of all online operators using the company’s games.
Today, Microgaming’s portfolio is unparalleled. There are over 850 unique casino games and 1200 variations, plus a network of progressive jackpot games including Mega Moolah, WowPot and Major Millions.
Anyone who has ever played in an online casino will be familiar with online slots such as Big Bad Wolf, Break Da Bank, Thunderstruck and, of course, the evergreen Hall of Famer, Cash Splash. Still running today.
The licensing department has agreements with household brands such as Playboy, Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones. The company employs nearly 200 people and is located in a modern five-storey building. In May 2021, Microgaming celebrated 20 years on the island.
Although Moshal is widely considered “one of the most influential figures in online gaming”, he is notoriously media shy. Microgaming remains a private company and keeps its cards close to its chest. There is no mention of its founder anywhere on its website.
In 2020, Moshal was revealed as one of the investors in online bookmaker Betway. The Malta-based company has been fined £11.6million by the Gambling Commission for failing to prevent money laundering. Although shunning the limelight and refractory to scandals, Moshal remains an important – and historic – figure in the industry.
Today, billionaire Martin Moshal focuses his energy on both the Moshal scholarship program and his venture capital firm Entrée Capital. The scholarship program was established in 2009 to help address inequalities in the South African education system and support determined students.
Entrance Capital has invested over $1 billion in 130 start-ups around the world that now have a combined value of over $335 billion. Moshal is a man committed to the principle of “paying it forward”. He is faithful to the principal.
Moshal is one of the most important figures in the history of online gambling. Yet if you were sitting next to him on the bus, you probably wouldn’t even know it. He bet and won.