PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg will reportedly visit Israel next week to attend the wedding party of his brother, Rob, who lives in the country. Rob married Daniela in a Jewish ceremony in London a few days ago, but will hold the wedding party in Tel Aviv.
"Mark does not live in the shadow of his father," says an associate. "On the contrary, father and son know how to work together. They have a division of labor, and it’s a close-knit family. He is simply a good guy."
Mark Scheinberg was appointed chairman and CEO of Rational Group Ltd., after his father, Isai Scheinberg, was forced from his managerial positions in the company under a settlement with the US Department of Justice. Nonetheless, Isai is still involved in the company one way or another, and this involvement apparently sabotaged an attempt to buy an Atlantic City casino in New Jersey.
"He is a working man," said another associate. "He works hard, and I personally admire him for that." He added that Mark does not talk much about his work, even with friends. "I once had coffee with him, and after 30-60 minutes, he told me, 'I have to go now to work for at least 3 hours.' He has quite strong self-discipline."
Mark Scheinberg (39) is single, and in the words of a friend, "A sought after single man who is in no hurry to settle down." He divides his time between his residences on the Isle of Man, the tax haven where Rational Group and PokerStars are registered, and London. He has no yacht or private plane, saying, "I hire one when needed."
Mark Scheinberg makes frequent trips to Israel, but his associates have never heard him make Zionist remarks. "He has an affiliation for Israel, and he loves the country, but he has no interest in politics," said a friend. He reportedly has no philanthropic activity in Israel, at least not on the scale of his activities in the UK. "He mostly contributes to organizations in Britain which help Jews around the world," says a colleague.
Mark Scheinberg works hard in part to bring PokerStars to the US market, which bans online gambling, but is beginning the legislative process to permit it, and New Jersey is one of the first states to allow online gambling. PokerStars sought to enter New Jersey through the acquisition of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, but the deal fell through after a legal battle in the state. Although the deal is dead, the company has not given up on the US market.
A few days before withdrawing from the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel deal, in July, PokerStars signed a cooperation agreement to provide online gaming with another casino in the state, the Resorts Casino. "This is another blue chip partner for Resorts to complete a wonderful series of brands - Mohegan Sun, Margaritaville and now PokerStars," said Resorts Casino chairman Morris Bailey.
"Resorts is a fantastic partner for us and we are looking forward to launch PokerStars in the US in association with the other quality brands Resorts has brought to Atlantic City," said Mark Scheinberg.
Even without the US market, PokerStars is the biggest online poker operator in the world, with 54% of the global market, seven times the size of its largest competitor, Israel's 888 Holding plc (LSE:888).
Isai Scheinberg (66), is the son of a Lithuanian Holocaust survivor. He immigrated to Israel after completing his M.Sc. in Mathematics, just before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He served in the IDF, fought in Sinai, and after the war began working for IBM Israel Ltd. in Tel Aviv. His mathematics degree landed him a job as a systems engineer, and he relocated to IBM's offices in Toronto, where he decided to stay and raise his family. He has two sons, Mark and Rob.
Isai Scheinberg got the idea for PokerStars while playing cards in Toronto's clubs. He was a pretty good player and realized that a user-friendly online poker site was the key to success and recruited Mark for the task.
Mark Scheinberg declined to cooperate for this article.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 28, 2013
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