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Online Casino Pioneer, Aharon Shaked Dies

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Aharon Shaked, the co-founder of online gambling giant 888 and one of Israel’s wealthiest men, died on Saturday at the age of 58 after fighting a serious illness.

Aharon previously practiced dentistry in Israel and it was at a dentistry conference in Monte Carlo in the 1990 when he noticed huge amounts of people visiting the city’s casino. On his return to Israel he decided to establish an online casino together with his brother Avi. As neither of the brothers had any experience in gambling they visited the casino in Taba, in Sinai, in an attempt to learn how to play.

The brothers then contacted the Ben Yitzhak brothers who had the technological know-how that they needed for their new venture.

During 1995 Aharon and Avi mortgaged their houses so as to obtain funds. The four men then took out a loan, bought a gaming license in Antiqua for $100,000 and founded 888.

In 2005 the company floated on the London Stock Exchange with Aharon and Avi Shaked owning 70 percent of the stocks. Each of the brothers sold stocks worth $91.3 million and held onto stocks worth $267 million each.

Aharon Shaked was a modest, social man, devoted to charitable work. Following the company listing he told a British newspaper that his new found wealth would not change his life and that he would rather put the profits towards charities for underprivileged children than spend it on fancy restaurants and a new car.