Avi and Aaron Shaked: The Brothers Who Built a Gaming Empire


Avi and Aaron Shaked, a pair of brothers born in Netanya, Israel, came up a plan to bring the casino experience online after graduating from Ben Gurion University and pursuing careers that were completely different from each other. Aron, the youngest of the two, was a dentist while Avi, who had a chemical engineering degree, worked for a telecommunications company.

Accepting his professor’s invitation, Aaron went to a conference for dentists that was happening in Monte Carlo. As one would expect, between attending lectures and seminars, Aaron did some gambling. After the conference, Aaron went back home with an idea to bring the gambling experience online. Even though the idea of an online casino had been around in the mind of others for quite some time, Aaron’s version would be an all-inclusive experience that would be like none other. This idea was enough to get his brother on board since he saw its potential, and that is when the two brothers sat down and developed a website that would later turn into 888.com.


The Idea that Transformed Online Gambling

When they launched their initial website, they ran into a couple of hiccups because the brothers didn’t have any knowledge about running a casino. That is when Avi started doing research on how to bring the environment of a real casino online, spending hours in casinos and studying the details of every game. After looking into it further, they realised they would need more help. So the brothers took their idea to Ron and Shay Ben-Yitzhak, who were also brothers, as these two were experts in gambling software. The four of them had high hopes for the website that they re-mortgaged their houses to invest in it.

In May of 1997, they launched Casino-on-Net, with Antigua being the place where the website was operated – this was done due to taxes being friendly in that area. The website was successful, allowing them to launch another one called Reef Club Casino. As the business started to grow in Antigua, the taxes became high, forcing Aaron to contact a few people to move the operation to a territory with lower taxes and more liberal laws for online gambling.

A company called Virtual Holding Ltd came into the London Stock Market in 2005 – this was before it became 888. In 2010, the company turned Casino-on-Net into 888casino and made it one of the world’s most popular and successful online casinos. In 2008, an FTSE 250 status was achieved by 888 Holdings, and it remained as one of the top listed companies in the UK. In 2006, the company had a reported revenue of $520.8 million.


Life After 888

In 2006, Avi and Aaron stepped down from 888 to pursue other ventures – finding success in those as well. Avi ventured into politics and became a restaurateur while Aaron dedicated the rest of his life and fortune to his family and charitable causes in local communities. When he died in 2010 at 58 years old, Aaron had left his immediate relatives 25% of his stocks at 888 Holdings.


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