Interview with Pierluigi Buccioli, domain investor and collector
Who are you and tell us about Gambling Invest
I’m Pierluigi Buccioli and I’m a domain investor and collector. Gambling Invest (gamblinginvest.com) is the website where I showcase my collection of gambling domains that are available for sale.
Is domaining for gamblinginvest.com your full time project or do you work on other projects that connect with your domain business?
Domain investing is my full time job and gambling domains sales represent 90% of my business.
How did you get into the domain selling business?
Back in 2006, I used to run a blog called Bookmakers Review, where I reported when online bookmakers had troubles and went bust. At this time, I started buying domains of bookmakers that had gone out of business simply because I wanted to collect them.
Early on, I also hand registered domains for projects I had and websites I intended to build and a couple of years into this, even though I wasn’t actively trying to sell my domains, I received my first offer for $50. An event that opened my eyes to the possibility that domain names could be sold for profit. This is when I became an investor and soon with a portfolio of 1000 domains, I was selling 5-10 domains per year at prices ranging from $1000-3000.
In 2009 I launched Gambling Invest with the idea to host live domain auctions at gambling conventions, which I did, twice. Let’s just say that didn’t exactly work out.
Then around 2010 I had my first 5 figure sale and for the next 4-5 years I had at least one every year, which allowed me to pay the renewal fees of a growing portfolio and continue to further my domain investing education.
10 years ago, social media was at its dawn and there were no domain investing courses like you have today. Frankly, even now that you can read all you want about domain investing, there is no substitute to buying and selling, be right and make mistakes in real life.
How long have you been doing this for and what did it take for you to become the #1 gambling domain seller?
From 2005 when I bought my first domains to the end of 2013 I accumulated over 4000 domains. Around this time, I sold my previous business and decided to make domain investing my priority.
In 2014, after a deep review of my portfolio, I dropped 2500 domains. When I relaunched Gambling Invest in 2015 to showcase my collection, it only had 900 domains for sale.
Since then, I added between 500 to 1000 domains per year, growing my sales from 20 a year in 2015 to 100 a year today, but I still wouldn’t call myself the #1 gambling domain seller.
There are several gambling domains sellers that I compete against in terms of total sales value. I do think though I’m the #1 in consistency of sales month in month out
What is your largest domain sale to date?
GolfBet.com which earlier this year sold for $100k to a law firm representing the PGA Tour.
Is social media important for you in doing your job?
Not as much as you would think. It’s too difficult these days to find a signal among the noise. Then again an online business cannot afford not being present on social media.
Generally, buyers looking for domains that cost $5k-$15k, which is the range where I’ve had the most success, are not spending too much time investigating who they are buying from. For those that do, it helps seeing you are a real person running a legitimate business, and they can easily reach out to you on social media.
Another scenario where social media is kind of useful is referrals. If you have an active social media profile that gets referred to potential buyers, they can see immediately what type of business you run and can make an educated decision whether to approach you.
Over the years, you must have dealt with some shitty clients. How bad can these people get?
I would differentiate people that actually buy domain names and become clients from those that wish to buy domain names but ultimately never do because they have unrealistic expectations, typically regarding prices.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about actual clients other than some need to be looked after more than others.
Regarding wannabe buyers with unrealistic expectations, I could write a book about.
Starting from the best bookmaker in the world trying to buy a $25000k domain for $300 for “a school project” to the former owner that realizes after years a domain name he once owned is for sale for $15k thus demands the return of the domain back for free, all the way to startups with a unique sense of entitlement asking to buy domains for nominal amounts simply because they think having an idea for a website or brand gives them the right to own the matching domain.
Probably the most interesting though are the “dealmakers.” Both sellers and buyers that refuse to deal in straight sales and buys, preferring super complicated deals that inevitably never come to fruition.
A couple of years ago, a lawyer representing a gambling operator offered me a deal where they required me to buy a portfolio, committing to renew it for 10+ years and when (should say if) the domains eventually sold, pay a large percentage of the sales proceedings to the original owner. Only the combination of a lawyer and a gambling operator would think that a deal that offloads all the risk to a third party, while keeping the upside for themselves, made any sense.
For all the people that want to get in the domain selling business, what is your advice to them?
Make sure you pick and choose a niche that you know well. Ideally one where you already have a hedge over other buyers identifying value buys. Forget trends as whenever a trend is established, deals are long gone.
Be ready to spend long hours pricing your domains, pointing them to landing pages, listing them for sale on all marketplaces. Most domain investors enjoy researching and buying domains, yet are extremely lazy and/or disorganized when it comes to make them available for sale.
Finally, be ready to play the long game if the goal is to sell to end users. A common mistake new investors make is to buy a handful of domains, a month later wonder why none have sold and start offering their domains for sale to every other investor and broker.
What advice do you have for someone that is looking into getting into the gambling industry either as an affiliate, an operator or a service provider?
Don’t settle for any domain thinking domain names are not important. Buy the best domain you can afford to buy with your budget. It doesn’t have to be a million dollar domain, but in a market where to be relevant, operators need to invest millions in advertising and affiliates hundreds of thousands in content marketing and SEO, anyone that is not willing to invest a fraction of their budget ($50k, $20k, $5k) in a premium domain name is probably not going to last very long.
Also create a domain strategy to manage the portfolio of domain names, that your business will end up building, as early as possible. I’ve investigated the domain portfolios of all the major gambling groups and frankly I did not find a single one that was properly managed.
Domain names are assets, but if forgotten and not put into use, they become liabilities.