Depending on who you talk with you will get different answers on who really started the offshore industry we know and love today. Many credit Ron Sacco (better known as Cigar) as being the founder of offshore gambling. But in all the arguments of who started what, one group is often left out of the conversation. That group is Intertops and they hold as much of a claim as anyone to being the company that truly started it all.
The Early Years
Intertops got its start in Germany back in 1982. Founder Detlef Train began to run into challenges in Germany and moved the company to London in 1983 and obtained a British bookmaker license. A large portion of his business initially was set up to have a phone in service for punters in his home country Germany. This is the first documented case of an operator obtaining a license in one country with the intent of marketing and taking wagers from another.
Intertops offered better odds and more markets than the German Governments monopoly and initially, a large portion of their business came from Germans. They initially sent in funds via post and were allowed to phone in wagers. During Mr. Trains first eight years many American bookies set similar plans in order including BetOnline (Panama). With pressure coming in from both German and American governments the UK began discussing legislation that would restrict licensees from cross-border trade. Detlef didn't wait around to find out and quickly moved his operation to Austria in 1992.
The Noble Kid
Simon Noble started as a part-time employee in 1989 as a ticket writer. He had a knack for the industry and progressed well within the company. He eventually assisted the company beginning credit card processing. He followed them in their move to Austria in 1992.
In 1994, he was put in charge of their internet expansion team and set a goal to become the first online sportsbook. Noble was promoted to CEO in 1995 as Detlef took a behind the scenes approach. With his new role, Noble was granted full control of the company's day to day operations and he was the face of the company making frequent media appearances.
A $50 wager on a UK Football match in January of 1996 marked the first wager taken by Intertops.com. Intertops had done it, becoming the first ever sportsbook to take a bet online. This is a major step that cannot be overstated as all this was accomplished with no blueprint to lead them.
The Stampede Follows
While they were first to launch it was not long before they were joined by a variety of competitors. The times were very competitive and legal pressures were again mounting. While Austria was ok with allowing bets to be phoned in the situation with the internet was not quite so clear. As a result, Intertops split and their internet division moved to the friendly confines of Antigua in late 1997. Shortly after the move, they began offering wagers to the United States.
While being the first to offer online betting was a major accomplishment it was not Intertops only first. The sportsbook was also the first to offer a mobile betting platform in 2000. They were also the first to hit the gamblers trifecta of offerings online in 2003 by offering sports betting, poker, and casino games from the same website and login account. (They became the first skin of PartyPoker).
While Intertops now is not the marketing powerhouse of years past they are still one of the best at keeping their players. They achieve this by putting the customers first. Reload bonuses, cash giveaways, top notch customer service, and various other promos keep their base loyal as they know they will get a good product with a lot of variety and options to choose from. If you are looking for a new book to try maybe take a look at one that has been doing it longer than anyone. Try INTERTOPS!