Lars Rosenberg, a well-known presence in the industry, passed away earlier in February. The whole iGB team sends our sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.
“I will never have a friend like him again,” Harald Pia says of his best friend and business partner Lars Rosenberg (pictured above left), who passed away earlier in February. That clarification, he says, would have been important to Rosenberg; the friendship was more important than the business relationship.
The pair worked together for over a decade, since 2012, and in that time were responsible for a number of online gaming brands such as Fight Club Casino, Axe Casino and Oshi Casino.
Rosenberg came into the gambling space through boxing, having run an agency working with influencers and social media promotions, and previously managed German boxer Christina Hammer, whose Lady Hammer nickname provided the brand for Fight Club Casino’s first iteration.
He met Pia, who had been covering the gambling sector for one of the world’s largest affiliates, in 2012 and the pair realised that after the alcohol sector, casino operators were the second most prominent sponsor of the sport. “There were a lot of ambassadors for online casino, but no fighter owned the casino,” Pia recalls.
This prompted the pair to join forces to invest in the sector, and upon entering the industry Rosenberg found “he was born for it”, Pia says.
“Lars was like a battery for affiliates”
His energy and enthusiasm for the sector made him a valuable partner for affiliates in the sector. “Lars was like a battery for affiliates,” Pia continues. “Everyone was looking to tap into his contacts, so we were getting the best deals.
“This helped us find new partners, to establish new brands, and we then sold our shares to found Fight Club Casino and Axe Casino, which are fully owned by us.”
Pia, who previously worked with HBO’s pay per view pioneer Mark Taffet on creating storylines for fighters in the run-up to fights, had the connections in the boxing world. Rosenberg, he says, provided the contacts in the industry, ensuring their ventures succeeded.
“We trusted each other 100%, so it was not necessary for us to do things together. If Lars was in a meeting, it made no sense for me to be in it, and vice versa. We had our business, we had minimum two hours of calls together, but for our daily jobs, each of us did his own thing.”
He admits the pair would disagree on some matters, but would publicly support the other’s decisions no matter what. “I would never say anything negative to anyone else,” Pia adds. If he decided to do something, I would support him.
“And he would do the same for me; we sometimes had totally different attitudes to things, but if you asked him whether my decision was right, he would always say yes.”
Continuing Rosenberg’s legacy
Pia sees Rosenberg as the industry’s equivalent of a boxer that could feed off a crowd’s energy, even when it was negative. “They don’t need to have everyone on their side, they don’t need the crowd’s applause. Lars was the same. He could generate energy from stress, but that is dangerous.”
Ultimately, he will remember his partner as “the guy who called me every day to ask how I was and what he could do for me”, even checking in on health issues and recommending visits to the doctor. But Pia says that he was so strong-willed that he dismissed his own health issues and advice, and recommends that others in the industry look after themselves.
“As big a tragedy as it is, with his mindset, which on one hand gives so much energy to himself and others, there was no way to prevent this.”
And Rosenberg will have a legacy, he adds. As someone who “lived” the gambling business, there are enough projects in the works to last the rest of Pia’s lifetime. These projects, in turn, will ensure Rosenberg’s family and children are provided for, will have the best support and the best education available.
“It is now my job to ensure our business runs as well as it did before.”