GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 6 - September 2008

GPWA Affiliate Interview Series 28 GPWA Times | INTERVIEWWITH Heather Gartland | topboss 4 dogs, 6 parrots, 60 portals —meet Team Topboss! You’re one of the real veterans in the in- dustry. How long have you been work- ing in online gaming? What keeps you in it (besides the money!)? Right up front I need to mention that I have not done this alone – my husband, Andy, has been right beside me from the very beginning and we actually started our very first website together. I am just the big mouth on the GPWA!! Therefore there will be a number of times that I mention him in this inter- view and refer to “we” instead of “me” as I cannot take all the credit alone. He just keeps a much lower profile than I do, but is actually the driving force behind Top- boss Group. We also have a team of great people working for us and each and every one of them contributes to our success. It’s kind of scary to be called one of the vet- erans in this industry, but I guess it’s cor- rect because we have been in this industry since 1999. Our story is probably one of those typical rags to riches stories. I was working as a credit manager for a bank and my husband had his own plumbing busi- ness (previously he was a senior officer in the fire department, which is where his heart still lies). In a nutshell – we didn’t manage our money the way we should and found ourselves in deep financial debt and had our electricity cut off for six months. This was our turning point, because we got pretty sick of sitting in the dark and boiling water on a gas stove just to have a bath, so we realized that we had to find a way to make additional income. Our ini- tial idea was an adult board game that we designed and our plan was to market it over the Internet. At the time we had ab- solutely no clue how the Internet worked and we just thought that it was a matter of putting up our game on a website, visi- tors would just automatically flock there, and we would get thousands of orders. The term “SEO” meant nothing to us – we didn’t even know what it stood for!!! Having no electricity was our first prob- lem so we made a deal with our neighbor and hooked up a cable to his electricity box purely so we could run our computer. Night after night we sat in the dark look- ing for pictures for our game and kept coming across casino ads. Before long our focus shifted from our game idea to casi- nos and our fist site,, was born. It literally consisted of a few ban- ners slapped up initially as we didn’t even know how to center them on the page. We sat up every night until 2 a.m. working on our website and then getting up at 6 a.m. to go to work. With regards to your question about what keeps us in it – I am not going to answer that because it will become obvious when I answer the rest of the questions … Besides the UIGEA, how has the industry changed since you first started? I could write a book about that one but firstly – the only casinos that we could find to promote were Slotland, Grand Banks, and Black Widow Casino. We searched high and low for bingo lounges and could only find BingoGala and a Bingo site called iBingo, which didn’t accept affiliates. We also approached Referback but they wouldn’t accept our application because we were from South Africa. Remind me to have a chat to Cobus about this next time I see him…. We then found Piggs Peak and Silver Sands in South Africa and started promoting them. This was where our real money came from. I think we were Silver Sands Casino’s first affiliates, and in those days we used to meet regularly with management and have a cup of cof- fee with them at their offices and also with Piggs Peak, who operated from a tiny little house with a handful of staff (remember Money Mechanic …). There were so few gambling related web- sites on the Internet that our sites were a page rank 5 and appeared in the top 100,000 with ease (Oh, how I wish those days were back). Some of the affiliate pro- grams were only offering 10% commission and you either took it or didn’t promote them. 25% to 35% commission rates were unheard of. With regards to the UIGEA – I think this is the most ridiculous act that the U.S. Government has ever passed and felt des- perately sorry for our fellow affiliates in the industry when it came about, because of the effect it had on families in terms >> Continued on page 61 City currently residing in: Johannesburg, South Africa Age: 40 Favorite food: Lasagna One must read: Screw It, Let’s Do It, by Sir Richard Branson Sites:,, flushfever,, , and others