An IGN Q & A: Michael Jackson

30 January 2000 came onto the scene last summer as a burgeoning gambling software supplier with a lot of promise. Six months later, the company is well on its way to fulfilling that promise. Thanks to two successfully implemented software licensing schemes, a solid marketing plan and a highly trafficked online portal, CEO Michael Jackson projects they'll be the largest software provider on the Internet within the next four or five months.

IGN: Can we start with a brief history of the company came together, the acquiring of the domain name and so forth?

Michael Jackson: We were introduced to the URL--the domain--in May/June and we were impressed by the online gaming industry. We felt that it had a lot of potential. We subsequently required the URL from a group offshore and started to work on developing the URL into a company and for that reason started to negotiate for a shell on the OTC, which we acquired in July. And we developed the URL into Inc., which is a company that is marketing gaming software on the Internet.

IGN: You've segmented your business plan into three phases. Can you elaborate on the three phases and what they entail?

MJ: Phase 1 was developing the company into a marketing company initially and taking the company to a stage where we would be sublicensing and marketing the domain. What we've started to develop from in Phase 1 was setting up the multi-player poker card room which we licensed to a company in Costa Rica. We also in Phase 1 started to develop the software for the opt-in newsletter and for setting up free email.

Phase 2 evolved around setting up a master licensing agreement with software developers where we became sub-licensors of their software which would be selling to third-party casino operators. The revenue stream would come from licensing fees which we would sell to perspective casino operators as well as the royalty payment. We've subsequently entered into an agreement with Gamingtech (a software developing subsidiary of Chartwell Technologies Inc.), and because of their technology, it's allowed us to expand very rapidly.

We've got two types of licensing reselling: One is an independent license and the other one is a license that's linked into one of our sub-licensee's master casinos, and consequently, we're able to sell that link casino for $35,000 per casino.

The third phase was the development of the portal, which was necessary to develop the URL into a global brand name. The portal (at went up about a week ago. It gives us exposure into the market place because, as you probably know, the search engines and portals achieve probably 80 percent of the advertising dollars spent on the Internet. Consequently, with our portal, we will be able to sell a lot of banner advertising, which would generate revenue. Because of our knowledge of the Internet and the networking, we're generating about 170,000 unique hits a month. And that's extrapolated into about a million impressions.

IGN: Earlier this week you signed a deal with a company, called Akamai, that's intended to enhance the content at this site. Can you explain who Akamai is and how this enhancement will be accomplished?

MJ: They were professors at MIT who developed the technology to mirror people's servers in different countries. It creates a higher speed of downloading. If you were downloading the portal, which is on servers in Costa Rica, and you were in San Francisco, using their technology allows you to open it up on Akamai's servers, which are mirrored into Costa Rica. They set up servers in probably every country in the world now.

IGN: You mentioned your software agreement with Gamingtech. You also have the poker software deal with ASF Software. Are those the only two software companies you're working with now?

MJ: We're working with another group that's also developing multi-player gaming software. They're going to offer us a third-generation software program. So we'll be highly competitive at that time. We should have it up and running by the middle of February

IGN: What if an operator wanted to run an independent casino instead of one of the casino links? How much does that cost?

MJ: Under the Gamingtech software program we sell links and we sell the independent casinos as well. The independent casinos we sell for $75,000. Where we're probably different from most other companies in dealing with licenses is that we take our fees on the net and not on the gross. A lot of the companies take it on the gross, which means the operator makes less bottom line.

IGN: Can you clarify the difference between purchasing a casino link and purchasing an independent operation?

MJ: The independent operator hosts his own servers, he does his own technical support, he does his own administration. Through the link casino, the operator still sets up the same Web page as he would an independent; he does his own graphics. And then he links into a master casino, which is common. The master casino then provides him with all the administration and technical support. So, he's really got nothing to do other than marketing.

IGN: How many licensees are there right now?

MJ: Right now we've sold seven in the last 30 days and we've got another 15 we're negotiating with. We expect to be the largest on the Internet within the next four or five months--just because of the ability to sell the non-independent casino (the linked casino).

IGN: You're well into the third phase of your business plan. Where do you go from here?

MJ: It's just a matter of expanding the services that we're offering on the portal because the portal is there primarily to bring interests to potential gaming enthusiasts. We're offering sportsbook information; we've got a ticker, we're offering quote facilities on the site; we've also got a retail, e-commerce section where they can be books and CD and travel. We're becoming a portal, in the strict definition of the word. All we've got to do is keep expanding the services that we offer people to make it a community for gaming enthusiasts.

IGN: Can you talk about how the company is structured? You're headquartered in Vancouver, but you've got servers in Costa Rica. Do you have subsidiary located in Costa Rica?

MJ: We don't operate casinos ourselves. So we've got no relationship to those casinos, other than the marketing of those casinos or royalty payments received from them.

IGN: And who operates the casino with which the link casinos are affiliated?

MJ: Antico Holdings.

IGN: And who handles the negotiating of these deals?

MJ: They've got a company called Casino Marketing, which is a wholly owned subsidiary. Casino Marketing does the marketing for the sales of casinos.

IGN: Can you tell me a little bit about the company itself? How many people make up

MJ: We're outsourcing most of our business. We've got a group of four people in our offices that are working on investor relations. We do administration in-house, but also through consultants. Directly or indirectly, we've got a staff of probably about 12 people.

IGN: Is there anything we haven't covered about the company that you'd like to add? Anything big coming up?

MJ: I think the important thing is that we've been approved under the S & P (Standard & Poor) program, so brokers have got clearance to market to investors. And the 10SB is a very important milestone because there are a lot of companies that haven't been putting in their 10SB's and they'll be pink sheeted if they don't get approval by July. We'll be filing next week. And we've got a $340,000 contract with Excite. We bought the keywords for "poker," "blackjack" and "bingo."

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.