Text size

It would be fair to say that Israelis are masters of the online gambling industry. Noam Lanir, 38, is planning to float Empire Online, which provides marketing techniques to online casinos, at an estimated $1 billion company valuation.

Two months ago, brothers Avi and Aharon Shaked teamed up with brothers Shai and Ron Ben Yitzhak, and floated their company, 888casino.com, or Casino On Net, at a company value of $1.6 billion - making it the biggest internet casino.

Lanir is the son of the late Israeli Air Force legend Avi Lanir. Avi Lanir was the most senior captive in the Yom Kippur war, and was tortured to death by his Syrian captors.

As for the son, he is apparently planning to float Empire Online in London, as Casino On Net did.

Empire Online is not an Israeli company, though. All its operations are conducted outside of Israel.

Lanir entered the field of marketing techniques for Internet gambling back in 1998, with his company Tradal, which is registered in Cyprus. Over the years, the company expanded its scope to marketing for casino games. All its operations were concentrated under the umbrella of Empire Online, which maintains headquarters in Limassol, Cyprus. Lanir himself lives in Israel, but travels each week to London and Limassol.

The company, which has 60 employees, handles marketing for some of the world's biggest gambling Web sites, including 888casino.com and Empirepoker.com. The firm has revenues of tens of millions of dollars annually and is considered extremely profitable.

Lanir is the company's principal shareholder. He has a number of non-Israeli private partners.

The firm recently hired investment bankers Numis as underwriters for the issue. It also appointed Lord Leonard Steinberg as chairman. Lord Steinberg has been in the gambling business since 1955, and built his Stanley Leisure into one of the largest gambling empires in Britain.

Marketing is critical for casino Web sites. The Internet is full of ways to gamble, and despite the multitude of surfers looking for quick riches, if a site doesn't stand out, it won't go far.