A former Tyneside student who once earned extra money for his Newcastle University studies as a croupier has now been unveiled as the international managing director for online bingo giant Tombola.
Murray Chisholm, 41, has been appointed MD of tombola international, which has its group headquarters in Wylam Wharf, Sunderland.
Tombola, which employs more than 300 people, was last year confirmed as the largest bingo operator in Spain and Italy, only two years after moving into the European market.
Manchester-born Mr Chisholm, who will be based in the company’s Gibraltar office, moved to Newcastle to study and earned extra money by working as a croupier at a Tyneside casino.
In 2003, he spotted a job advert for gaming company Victor Chandler, now BetVictor, and was recruited to manage, develop and expand the casino, poker and gaming customer support teams.
Victor Chandler was the first online gaming company to locate its business in Gibraltar in 1999 and Mr Murray was commuting there from the family home in the North East.
When children came along, Murray moved back to the UK, having found a job helping to set-up poker software company Tribeca Tables Poker, a firm which later sold for $140m in 2007.
He later joined Gala Coral as head of bingo and casino, commuting from his home in Saltburn to Woking where the company was based.
After rising through the ranks to become business development director of Gala Interactive he moved to the Rank Group as digital development director, still based in Gibraltar.
He said: “The job I really wanted was the role of MD at tombola and when it became available I applied straight away, and successfully negotiated a tough interview process.
“I felt it was my natural destiny, I had all the right experience at the right strategic level at some great companies, and I had a deep knowledge of the bingo market and its customers, as well as tombola.
“I was delighted to get the job.
“Tombola has always stood out from competitors as a genuine bingo brand. It’s a different business model with a genuine ethical approach to customers. We put our players and our responsibilities to them at the core of everything we do.
“There is a strong culture at tombola, a principled model of working which was born here in Sunderland, but which is key to our success and has been adopted in our offices in Spain, Italy and Gibraltar.
“The company is in a very strong position – we develop our own online products, unlike other companies, and with the introduction of our academy, which recruits apprentices and graduates, we are developing talent all the time.
“We’re obviously looking at further expansion on mainland Europe and beyond, but only where there are regulated markets. We’d keep the same model, culture and principles that have served us so well.”