Tsawwassen. Roll that around on your tongue a few times. That’s where Lee Terfloth spent his formative years, a town in British Columbia not far from Vancouver.
And Vancouver introduced Terfloth to the gaming industry. More to the point, the online segment of the industry in Canada. “I started in 2003 when a friend asked me if I wanted to join a customer service team for a company in downtown Vancouver. I took the interview, which consisted of two questions, ‘Have you ever been to jail?’ and ‘When can you start?’”
Terfloth worked his way through the company—Las Vegas From Home—for a few months and was promoted to assistant cardroom manager of the poker site. “Between 2003 and 2013, I was a consultant assisting companies all over the world,” he says. “In 2013, New Jersey became the first state in the U.S. to approve online gaming, so I moved there.”
He wanted to make sure that customers were being treated as if New Jersey was a new alternative in online gaming. “Because the gray market had operated in the United States for so many years before regulated gaming launched, it would have been naïve of us to expect customers didn’t know how these things worked.”
During those early years, casinos in Atlantic City feared that online gaming would cannibalize the business, Terfloth says.
“I wanted to ensure that everyone knew we weren’t a threat, but we wanted to give customers the ability to extend their experience and use our platform to bring new and existing customers to Atlantic City,” he says.
He worked for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa as a consultant, then with Resorts Digital as director of interactive product. He then became the vice president of online gaming with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
“I had the pleasure of launching the first online gaming product for Hard Rock, which allowed it to extend its iconic brand into the online gaming space,” he says.
He joined Out The Gate in February 2022 as chief operating officer.
Out The Gate is a new sports betting startup focused on launching in the near future in New Jersey and also Ohio, Terfloth says.
The success he had moving from property to property owed a lot to a long list of mentors.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” says Terfloth, who devotes relaxation time to his two young children. “It took an entire city to get me to where I am today, and I am incredibly thankful for everyone who helped me along the way.”
Terfloth’s mentor list reads like a who’s who with Haig Sakouyan, Mick Jacobs, Nathan Damianos, Peter Cellik, Stuart Lewis-Smith, Will Griffiths, Doyle Brunson, Kresimir Spajic, Tom Balance, Mark Giannantonio and Joe Brennan.
For the U.S., iGaming is still in its infancy, as most jurisdictions came on board since 2018. “I believe we will continue to see more states expand for both sports betting and iGaming,” says Terfloth. “I also think we will continue to see more consolidation, as companies realize how complex online gaming is.”
That said, online gaming is not for everyone. “We move at a pace that not everyone can handle,” Terfloth says. “Where video game companies get to turn out incremental updates for a sports game franchise annually, we are required to deliver game-changing updates or launch new markets at a moment’s notice. To put it simply, one year in online gaming is like seven years in a regular job.”