Few expected Jim Ryan to slink off into retirement when he left bwin.party in 2012, so it is no surprise to see him embarking on what is arguably his most ambitious project yet as chief executive of Pala Interactive.

“As the merger integration approaches its final stages, and having secured a series of strategic partnerships including MGM, Boyd Gaming, United Auburn and Zynga, Jim now wants to return to Canada with his family,” bwin.party’s then-chairman Simon Duffy announced in December 2012.

The announcement brought to an end Ryan’s tenure as chief executive of PartyGaming, which had begun in 2008 and evolved into the role of co-CEO of bwin.party in 2011. His departure was seen as the end of a career that had included leadership roles at the likes of CryptoLogic, Excapsa, and St Minver.

Only this plan didn’t work out for Ryan.

“The truth is retirement didn’t stick,” he explains half-jokingly.

What attracted him back to the industry was a phone call from California’s Pala Band of Mission Indians, who asked him to come to their base in San Diego and have a look at their online gaming strategy.

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