GG Gaming has come out the blocks after racing’s lockdown like Usain Bolt on steroids. They have launched aggressive support and marketing campaigns on a variety of industry platforms, including Turf Talk, and have pledged allegiance to racing via support of the Tote.
Today, we speak to GG Gaming’s colourful owner, Gary Lentin, not unknown in industry circles — always a manon-the-go — and we pose our seven questions.
TT: Give us some of your background
GL: “I guess it’s the usual story about getting the betting bug at an early age and never being able to get rid of it, thankfully. Racing and sports have been an extremely important part of my life and have provided me with so much. There were the usual minor distractions like getting an education, military service and day jobs but I never really allowed them to get in the way of my betting passion. I still have a huge interest in the local poker industry and continue to run major poker tournaments around SA. Poker falls into the Gambling stable so it’s great that it runs in my colours, just with a slightly different cap.”
TT: How, when and why was GG Gaming formed? Purely a business venture, or did you see a gap for improving on other online offerings? You have come out of lockdown with major promotional campaigns and industry advertising. Why so aggressive now? You’ve been around for a while.
GL: “I opened GG Gaming with my partner Greg (Bortz) three years ago and we had a very incorrect impression of the market. We also had different ideas and bank balances so it was very much a learn-and-patch entrance into the market. It was a business venture but for me it was more of a passion and an opportunity to try give a betting offering to punters that I would like as a punter. It’s not as easy as it appears owning and running an online betting business. I bought Greg out in March and I’m now in a position where I can start putting my ideas in place. I’m not saying they’ll be better or worse, but they are what I believe the industry needs.
“We’ve embarked on this marketing journey as it’s part of my business plan to get as many punters over to GGGaming to see what we offer and then to make a decision where they want to do their betting business. I don’t expect a punter to take 11/10 from me if they can get 13/10 elsewhere (I would be pissed off with my staff if that was the case and I can assure you that it doesn’t happen too much) but I try build my business in such a way that if GG has the same price as our competition then the punters place their business with us because we have better service and a much better attitude than our competitors.
“The only way I can achieve this is to get the people to come to my site and see for themselves. We have many innovative bets and promotions that start off unique to GG and I often have bets that genuinely put the odds in the bettors’ favour but I need punters to see this for themselves and the best way for this is through a direct marketing campaign which is exactly what we’re currently doing. I’ve been selective in who I’ve chosen to use in my campaign and people like yourself, Neil Andrews, Grant Knowles, Sheldon Peters and many others are definitely getting the GG Brand out there and I thank you all and hope that my kind words here get me a discount next month with all of you!
TT: Bettors have been encouraged to support tabonline for obvious reasons. You run a business including the open bet, but there has been recent communications and co-operation between the operators and bookmakers. Post Rian du Plessis, do you foresee greater coherence and a greater contribution to the stakes pot from bookmakers?
GG: “We don’t offer the Open Bet anymore- every tote bet taken with GG Gaming is taken back with the Tote. I made the decision when racing came back to throw my lot in with racing operators and I can proudly claim that I do not hold any open bet revenue. I’m not being a martyr or suggesting how others should run their businesses but it’s what feels right for me and I can only hope that there is a cooperation between the operator and bookmakers. Sure, we are racing again but we’re not involved in a simple 5 furlong dash up the straight. Racing has just started over what will be a tough 5-mile race full of hurdles and challenges and if the bookmakers think that taking advantage of what the operator gives us and not putting anything back is the way to go, then they not on the same page as me. We get a lot from the game, I believe who should give some back and try work together to make things work.”
TT: Most online bookmakers claim great customer service, a good platform, etc. What sets you apart?
GL: “What sets us apart is that we actually do deliver for the most part and that it’s not just marketing talk. I can proudly say that our focus is service, fairness and service. I hire staff who have passion and pride and I try build on that daily. I assure every client that there may be a possible disagreement about price or quantum which I’ll always try resolve fairly but you’ll never ever have a complaint about service.”
TT: “We’ve noticed you even have private accounts managers, like private bankers when banks were still customer-friendly. Even communication in Afrikaans?
GL: “Now you giving away your VVIP status. Actually, we do have account managers and various exclusive ways of communicating and betting with us, this comes back to passion and service which I don’t ever lower the standards on. It also comes back to giving us a try, and see if we offer the same or better prices than our competition. I want the business because our great, personalized and precise service wins the day.” TT There have been one or two nasty mails and calls about GG Gaming and you, Gary, in particular. Are these perhaps personal vendettas? Do you or your business have anything to be ashamed of?
“It could be a number of things which lead some people to put up nasty things about people in the public eye but I don’t want to guess about the reasons and no, we don’t have skeletons or anything to be ashamed or scared of.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss social media and complaints about bookmakers. Punters are able to go online and say what they like