For the most part, the casino industry has been built on tried-and-true systems and business models that are resistant to change. However, innovative advancements in technology often drive the marketplace forward, and for the past few years, gaming has experienced a revolution of sorts, one dominated by data and analytics. Earle G. Hall, CEO of Axes.ai, has long been one of the pivotal players in this transformation.
Despite the fact that Hall has spent the better part of the last 30 years in various corners of the tech space, he never received much formal education on the subject—instead, he cultivated his own passion and “started programming at 14.” Then, as he got older, he picked things up as he went along. “I was always doing my Microsoft engineering courses,” he says, “but I would always only get the piece I needed.”
This passion was eventually supplemented by humility and discipline, thanks to the Royal Military College of Canada and a nine-year stint as an officer in Canada’s Department of National Defense.
“It doesn’t matter how much of a superstar you are, you’re just a number in the average of the overall team,” Hall says. “It’s funny how the Army taught me that the superstars that were seeking all the attention, they ended up failing. And of course, the most weak, they had trouble keeping up physically or mentally or whatever. But the spread between the superstar and the late-comer, or the person lagging behind the spread, wasn’t that much. And that’s where the notion of teamwork was really burned into my brain, carried on in the Army.”
After he transitioned back into civilian life, however, the gaming industry was far from his sights. Instead, he was “sitting in Quebec City trying to figure out what my next move was,” when suddenly he got a call to review a patent for table game-related technology from a failing company—he quickly found that the patent “had almost no friction” with others in the industry, and it was clear to see that “the project just needed to be reframed and retooled.”
The company in question was DEQ Systems, and because Hall had done such a good job of pointing out its potential, he was soon given the reins, thus catapulting him into an industry he’d never even considered.
Over the next eight years, he came to love gaming, thanks in large part to a series of mentors whose wisdom illuminated the fact that “this is the industry that probably has the most heart that I’ve ever seen.”
By the time 2011 rolled around, Hall was working in Macau when he got another fateful call, this time in reference to a revolutionary new company called Axes.ai. At the time, it was also struggling, partly because it was “10 years ahead of its time, unfortunately.” The potential was clear, but the timing just wasn’t right, so he opted to accept an advisory role with the board of directors. Then in late 2013, Hall knew that Axes “had all of the right ingredients to make an amazing company,” so he took another leap, accepting the role of president and CEO. Both he and Axes haven’t looked back since.
After a few years of “building out speed, security, redundancy, and resilience” by investing heavily in cloud-based, “serverless and stateless” technology, the advent of the Covid pandemic is “really where Axes came to life,” because its offerings were so well suited for a decentralized, cashless environment.
Looking ahead to 2023, Hall says that he and his team have three main objectives: “marrying all of the cashless components together so that there is no clunky chunkiness, getting the pieces of our data that our customers need in real time to be available all the time in real time,” and emphasizing “digital out of home publicity.”
Through it all, however, Hall understands that his leadership must come from the front.
“I’ll go through copious levels of pain to learn something or to do something because when they need advice, they actually don’t need you to talk,” he says. “They need you to intelligently listen, because most people can figure out their own issues just by talking about them. If you’re looking for a boss sitting with a stapler and with a stamper and with a highlighter, I think that thankfully died during Covid.”