What do you get when you combine music history with modern-day gambling? Ask Motown super-fan and Detroit developer Herb Strather.
Strather and Donald Bailey, CEO of Nevada-based Atlantis Internet Group (ATIG), a gaming software developing company, are working together to launch an online gambling site called the Motown Legends Casino.
With the help of some well known investors--the Four Tops and the Miracles, to name a few--Strather and Bailey plan to launch the real-money gambling site on Feb. 5, 2006 at Super Bowl XL, which will be held in Detroit.
"Gaming is worldwide, and marketing to a worldwide audience can be tricky," Strather said. "We thought, 'What better group could we get to revolutionize the way gaming is done?' So we brought our companies together (Strather and Associates, Atlantis and Motown) and formed an economic opportunity that provides benefits for all of the stakeholders."
Strather said the legendary investors will be given 25 percent ownership in the company and will sit on the governance board of the operation.
He added that he had no trouble getting the artists on board.
"They were very excited," Strather said. "I've known them for a long time. They are personal friends. They are my best friends in life. I love them. I'm crazy about them. So I'm just a fan gone crazy."
Strather and Bailey came together about a year ago through a mutual associate who thought Strather's role in bringing land-based casino gambling to Detroit (as a founding partner of Motor City Casino) made him a good match for Bailey, who was looking to partner with a land-based operator.
"We do a product that we felt Mr. Strather would find exciting, and Mr. Strather had strong ties to Motown, as well as Detroit," Bailey said. "We sat down and went over the products that Atlantis offers and he felt that doing a site with the Motown celebrities would be a good idea. So we've actually collaborated on this together since then."
Although the owners reside in the United States, the site will operate from Montreal, where it is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. U.S. citizens will be able to play, but not for real money.
"We haven't quite worked is out yet, but there will be a separate play-for-fun site that may actually have a different Web address," Bailey said.
Both sites will offer the same suite of games, which includes blackjack, craps, roulette, video poker and slots. Most of the games will be traditionally themed, but the site will also feature specific games dedicated to the Motown celebrities. The games will additionally be available through handheld devices.
Beyond the branding opportunity, the venture is an ideal platform for launching "Jukebox Slots," a new product from Atlantis that enables gamblers to listen to music while they play the slots.
"We thought Motown would be an excellent way to launch that product," Bailey said. "We'll start with Motown artists, but we'll also represent other artists in the same format."
Strather, meanwhile, wanted to give players the opportunity to meet the artists.
"After customers visit the casino, they have an opportunity to visit the Motown Café, and they can have a personal relationship with many of the artists," Strather said. "They can buy their memorabilia; communicate with them. They can buy services like happy birthday songs or signed bottles of wine, or maybe even get them to come to their celebration. So we hope to connect the customers with Motown."
Strather is not shy about his feelings on Motown's music, and he is proud to be from the Motor City.
"The Motown legends are from Detroit, as am I," Strather said. "And they are people who have made our community famous around the world. We felt that we owed a debt to them also. They are idols, and we feel that others love Motown, too, in the world."
Bailey is a fan as well.
"I love Motown," he said. "It's hard to be as big a fan as Mr. Strather, but I'm probably right next to him."