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Victor Chandler By Lucy Baker VideoVictor Chandler talks about Mister Apuestas
I started buying pieces I'd be ashamed to own now. When I get time, I'm going to go up to Seville or to Madrid and look at the galleries. From his desk at work, he faces a Crook painting of a crowd of people reading newspapers, perhaps serving as a reminder of the importance of his public.
It is a half-hour journey for Mr Chandler from his home across the Spanish border in Sotto Grande, Andalucia. The imposing pink building, with a swimming pool in the front garden, is close to the famous Valderama golf course, in the area known to locals as "La Zona VIP", the VIP zone.
He has another residence for weekdays, which is said to be "the best in Gib". His driver says he is rarely there. Mr Chandler says he is happy living in Spain and working in Gibraltar, although he misses attending race meetings as he regularly did when his Victor Chandler On Course division was still the most important in the company.
But I do miss the racing. I love horses and I love the atmosphere and I love gambling. His wife, Carole, is less than enamoured. She likes it in the summer - from May to December it's fine.
But when the weather is bad, there's not a lot to do. She calls it the cultural desert. And Mrs Chandler is not the only one who finds the lifestyle of Gibraltar, despite its plentiful supply of duty-free and apes, a less than attractive proposition.
Since the offshore move, VCI has been dogged by its inability to retain key workers, with several top executives quitting in recent months.
It took three attempts to recruit a new finance director. Two people who had agreed to do it changed their minds when they really saw Gibraltar.
It depends what people's expectations are. Many challenges face Mr Chandler apart from staff shortages as he battles to stay ahead in the cut-throat betting game.
Last month three Court of Appeal judges unanimously overturned a ruling which had opened a loophole allowing Mr Chandler and his offshore colleagues to advertise their services to UK customers via Teletext.
Although the Betting and Gaming Act was designed to prohibit all advertising of offshore betting in the British media, Mr Chandler had argued that text services were exempt because they fell outside the category of "documents" as described in the law.
Like his rivals, he anxiously awaits the Government-commissioned review into the gambling industry, due in the next couple of months. He plans to take the Teletext matter to the House of Lords, and is awaiting leave to appeal.
Is he confident of victory? Mr Chandler says closure of the Teletext loophole prompted him to launch two new services weeks ago, a website and a phone betting line which, although they offer a tax holiday to customers for a limited period, are basically a return to a traditional, UK-based service at the prevailing duty rate of 9 per cent.
Others see the move more cynically, as a backtrack which indicates the offshore move has been less successful in attracting profitable UK custom than had been hoped.
One industry analyst said: "It is a sign that all is not as rosy in the Chandler camp as Victor would have us believe.
I really can't understand it. He does understand the importance of teaming up with third parties to ensure he is well-positioned for success once the move towards interactive betting has well and truly begun, but he has failed to clinch the sort of deals which competitors such as Ladbroke and Littlewoods recently announced.
Both companies have sealed agreements with BSkyB to offer interactive gambling through the media group's Sky Sports and Open channels as well as lining up contracts with telecoms partners such as Ericsson to develop betting services using WAP Wireless Application Protocol technology.
But Mr Chandler dismisses this out of hand. It's not a system I think much of. I don't believe real interactive technology will be here for 18 months to two years.
I've been to California to see people who say they've got the top-of-the-range technology, but it doesn't work.
He says he has a three-year strategy to expand into new technology and new markets. And it was with this in mind that he and Michael Tabor, his racecourse-owning business partner, struck a deal last August which many have viewed as "selling the family silver".
If the deal goes ahead, Mr Chandler will be given a place on the Enic board and will continue to run his business as part of the larger, listed group, which also has a stake in Rangers football club and controls Italy's Vicenza and the Warner Brothers' chain of retail outlets.
Despite a lengthy delay in closing the deal, Mr Chandler is adamant it is still on track. It's much more difficult to get a due diligence done in Gibraltar than in the UK and there's a huge amount of reporting because public companies have to go into so much depth.
The "hiccups" included an accounting accident where someone tried to hurry the process along on the computer system and wiped out 40, transactions.
Luckily, the balances were left in, but each transaction had to be re-entered, which took a couple of months. So what changes can we expect to the betting company after the cash injection?
Anticipating that the internet was here to stay, Chandler decided to make his business available online. BetVictor became one of the first fully functional online sportsbooks, attracting people from all over the world.
BetVictor went through a series of name changes to see if the name of the company would affect the number of people who visited the site.
Chandler was constantly looking for ways to expand his company, realizing that sponsorship was one of the best ways to do so. BetVictor sponsored several different sporting events over the years, including the Clarence House Chase at Ascot racecourse.
The total distance of the steeplechase race was just a little over 2 miles, and any horse over 5 years of age was eligible to run.
This race allowed BetVictor to get their name out there. Each year after the race took place, BetVictor saw a significant increase in traffic to their site.
Other events BetVictor has sponsored include the Welsh Open Snooker and the World Matchplay Darts, which also lead to an increase in traffic.
In , Chandler decided it was time for him to retire. He stepped down from his position of CEO at BetVictor, selling the business to successful racehorse owner Michael Tabor.
He married a Korean woman named Susan who he met in the late s. When they got together, she had already had a son, who Chandler happily adopted.
They never ended up being able to have any kids of their own, which was somewhat disappointing to them both. After about 20 years of marriage, Chandler and Susan started having difficulties.
They went to therapy, but their constant bickering and unwillingness to compromise ultimately lead to their divorce.
Once they had both officially gotten divorced, they started dating. Chandler has made some interesting friends over the years, including the famous painter Lucian Freud, who he initially bonded with over their love of horseracing.
During his free time, Chandler loves riding horses on his ranch. He owns over 25 horses and spends an average of 12 hours per week riding them.
Victor Chandler was destined to be a part of the gambling industry, having come from a long line of gambling enthusiasts.
Thanks to his willingness to take risks and change with the times, BetVictor became a billion-dollar enterprise.
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