Beyond the Biz | Andrew McIver

7 November 2008

When Andrew McIver, Sportingbet's chief executive for two years and counting, was solicited for this interview, he replied via e-mail:

Blimey. This is very flattering but you would be hard pushed to find anything interesting to say about me. I have no outside interests other than sitting on my arse watching telly.

As uninteresting as Mr. McIver believes himself to be, IGamingNews found that the 40-something industry leader said a lot in just a few words. He chatted with IGN over the telephone last week and discussed the $1 sale of Sportingbet’s United States-facing business, his first online experience and his favorite show to watch on the telly.

Why are you in the I-gaming industry?

    I like the fact that it's constant change; I like the fact it's a young industry; and I like the fact that it's an industry where the individual can make a difference in. I like a challenge.

Tell me about your best day as C.E.O. or your worst day as C.E.O. -- or both.

    Obviously, worse days are all to do with the change in the U.S. legislation. So, that's definitely worse day.

    Best day? Gosh . . . let's think about that. I mean, it was a very good day when we got rid of our U.S. business. Getting rid of that in two weeks was phenomenal. That was very pleasing to save all those jobs. We transferred our European operations to Guernsey. Those are the two high points that immediately come to mind.

What would you be doing if the Internet had never been invented?

    Me? (Laughs.) Well, I came from retail. I'd probably still be in retail.

What did you sell?

    I used to work for a department store group, but I had worked in the online industry before that, and I had worked in the gaming industry prior to that.

Can you tell me more about how you got into the I-gaming industry?

    Yes, it was a bit of luck. I was meant to be going for somewhere else, a management buy of a travel company, and it was down of south of England. I spoke to a friend about it who said “You'll hate it, it's too boring for you. You need a challenge; you like things at a fast pace. I know there's a great job going at Sportingbet.” I went along the next day and they offered me the job after that.

    And he was right. It was a great challenge, and I've enjoyed every minute.

Do you remember the first time you were on a computer?

    I'm showing my age now. The first time I ever used a computer, I think I was about 14 at school. So, that was 34 years ago. It was a bloody huge computer, I can tell you that. We had to punch everything on cards.

What about when you logged online?

    1998, I should think. No, no, no. That's wrong. '96. Well, it didn't work brilliantly back in '95, '96 -- it was always crashing. It was amazing actually: You could talk to one person, but there were no Web sites to surf or anything like that. It was very primitive.

If you had to throw away one gadget, what would it be?

    It certainly wouldn't be the dishwasher. Probably my mobile phone actually. Life would be less stressful, wouldn't it?

Have you ever Googled yourself?

    Now I hate to admit, but yes.

Did you discover anything exciting?

    No, it was very dull -- very disappointing.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

    There is a program in the U.K. called “Have I Got News for You.” That probably doesn't mean much in America.

I can Google it. What do you like about it?

    I like the people on it. It's a sort of a satirical review of the news of the week, and I quite like that sort of humor. I like the news, and I quite like satire.

Own an iPod?

    No, I don't. Well, I did, but I think one of my sons has got it.

If the power went out for the day, what would we find you doing?

    I'd certainly be pacing around very impatient and fidgety. I'd probably have to go for a walk. I'd have to do something physical.

If you were in a bookstore, in what aisle would we find you?

    Either novels or history.

Have you been watching the U.S. election? What's your take?

    On and off. I've only watched it on the news, but it's covered extensively here on the news. I haven't watched any of the head to head. Actually, I thought it was more entertaining when it was Hillary versus Obama. I found that more . . . that grabbed me more than McCain versus Obama. I don't want to be rude, I suppose. I think it's sad that you can't come up with two better candidates. (Laughs.)

What would legalization of I-gaming in the U.S. mean to you?

    It would be like closing the door after the horse has bolted really. We sold our U.S. business. It probably wouldn't mean a great deal other than a bit more poker liquidity.

Tell me one thing you'd change about your current lifestyle.

    I'd like to be fitter, slimmer, younger. (Laughs.) And, actually, maybe that's my wife who would like me to be those things.

When's the last time you rode a bike? Where did you go?

    Last Christmas. We went away to Cornwall which is in the Western U.K. with some friends. And we went cycle riding for a day.

Do you have a philosophy in life?

    Do unto others as you'd do unto yourself. And always be optimistic.

What's the most exciting thing you've done this month?

    I've just come back from a family holiday in Malaysia. That was pretty good. It included a visit to an orangutan sanctuary for orphan orangutans. That was pretty spectacular. They look very familiar. My children loved it.

Tell me one word to describe the current global economy.

    (Laughs.) Perilous. Teetering.

Jeanette Kozlowski is a staff writer for IGamingNews and manager of Clarion Gaming's Gaming Industry Media portal. She lives in Kirkwood, Mo.