Co-founder of 888 Holdings dies in plane crash


It was 1997 when 888 Holdings, then known as Casino-on-Net, was born. The online gaming company that would ultimately include 888 Casino, 888 Poker and more, was launched as virtual gaming was starting to gain in popularity, pieced together by two pairs of brothers, Aaron and Avi Shaked and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak. It would grow to become one of the leading online gaming enterprises that garnered a lot of support, as evidenced by the $1 billion it attracted when it went live on the London Stock Exchange only a few years after its development. One of the original founders, Shay Ben-Yitzhak, died this past weekend in a plane crash in Israel per a report by The Jerusalem Post.

co-founder-of-888-holdings-dies-in-plane-crashBen-Yitzhak was one of the business minds that helped put together the 888 model. He was reportedly flying a small plane this past Saturday in Sharon, Israel, accompanied by his 11-year-old son, when the aircraft, according to witnesses, suddenly made a straight descent to the ground. When fire-rescue personnel arrived, they were forced to use machinery to open the aircraft and reach the two victims. Danny Yosefsberg of the Netanya Fire and Rescue department explained, “It was a very difficult extraction, under very harsh conditions, because the aircraft itself was full of fuel, some of which even spilled onto the trapped father and son.”

The 52-year-old entrepreneur had reportedly passed away by the time emergency personnel were able to reach him. His son, however, survived the crash. He was seriously injured and had to be airlifted to a local hospital, Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv, to be treated for his injuries. He was reportedly sent to an intensive care unit for observation.

The investigation into the accident continues, and the final position of the aircraft, with its nose planted in the ground, supports the accounts provided by the witnesses. Israel had a no-fly order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this was lifted about three weeks ago. So far, there is no word on what theories are being explored by investigators with the Transport Ministry.

Ben-Yitzhak continued on as 888’s chief technology officer after the other founders had moved on. He was in charge of the company’s research and development center in Israel, but finally gave up the responsibilities in 2006. Opting for a non-executive role on the company’s board, he was the last of the four founders to relinquish participation in 888 when he quit in 2010 in order to spend more time with his family.