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Awards Season

Honoring innovation, gaming legends and top women in gaming

Every October when the gaming industry convenes at Global Gaming Expo, it’s time to honor all the individuals who make this industry special. That was true this year, as the industry honored some remarkable and innovative executives and officials who have made a difference over their careers. Here’s an outline of the top awards programs that were recognized during G2E 2023.

Winners of 23rd Annual GGB Gaming & Technology Awards Recognized

Playtech awardThe winners of the 23rd edition of gaming’s most respected technology awards were honored at G2E 2023 by Global Gaming Business magazine. The GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are the only North American awards program that recognizes excellence in innovation and practical application in all gaming disciplines. Hundreds of gaming products and services were entered this year into this important competition. This year’s competition included a new category for the best sports betting product, and three additional judges.

“The technology associated with the quality of the nominations for the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards is breathtaking,” says Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine. “The innovations represented have accelerated rapidly and improved, as gaming seeks more unique and interesting ways to create products and services that please customers.

Ruby Seven Studios awardKambi award“As always, it’s quite difficult to evaluate the most innovative and unique products. The judges for the GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are some of the most skilled, dedicated and respected executives in the business, so their opinion carries a great deal of weight. The winners of this year’s edition beat out some amazing competition and demonstrated true innovation.”

Interblock awardLight & Wonder awardAn expanded panel of judges for the awards in 2023 are: Claudia Winkler, president, GHI Solutions; Rob Russell, gaming analyst, Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C.; Frank Neborsky, general manager, the Downs at Albuquerque; Gerhard Burda, president and CEO, ESCAPES Advisory Services; Cliff Paige, slot director, South Point Casino Resort, Las Vegas; Skyelar Perkins, Corporate Slot Director, Choctaw Casinos; Missy Stanisz, director of sports wagering & interactive gaming, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Itsik Akiva, CEO, Headway Consulting; and Robin Villareal, chief information officer, Gila River Resorts and Casinos.

Nominations for the 2025 GGB Gaming & Technology Awards will open in May 2024, and will include new products and services to be introduced in 2024 or 2025.

Best Consumer-Service Technology

GOLD: Everi Mobile App • Everi

SILVER: Light & Wonder ENGAGE • Light & Wonder

Best Sports Betting Product

GOLD: AI-Powered Pricing • Kambi

SILVER: Sports Betting Technology • IGT PlaySports

Best iGaming Product

GOLD: Casinoverse • Wind Creek Hospitality

SILVER: Adventures Beyond Wonderland Live • Playtech

Best Productivity-Enhancement Technology
GOLD: Ruby Seven Studios • Ruby Seven Studios

SILVER: QCI Enterprise Platform • Quick Custom Intelligence, LLC

Best Slot Product
GOLD: Lightning Buffalo Link • Aristocrat Gaming

SILVER: Triple Coin Treasures/

Spectra UR43 • AGS

Best Table Game Product or Innovation
GOLD: Smart Pit • Interblock

SILVER: True Pick Roulette • Incredible Technologies

 

Miodunski, Anoatubby, Murren, Whittemore Inducted into AGA Gaming Hall of Fame

Jim Murren, Bill Anoatubby, Ellen Whittemore and Robert Miodunski

(l. to r.) Jim Murren, Bill Anoatubby, Ellen Whittemore and Robert Miodunski

The American Gaming Association (AGA) Gaming Hall of Fame Class of 2023 honored four leaders for their significant contributions to the industry: Bill Anoatubby, governor, Chickasaw Nation; Robert Miodunski, former CEO, American Gaming Systems, former president & CEO, Alliance Gaming and president, Bally Gaming; Jim Murren, former chairman and CEO, MGM Resorts International; and Ellen Whittemore, executive vice president, general counsel and secrerary, Wynn Resorts.

“This year’s Gaming Hall of Fame class enshrines industry leaders that have positively transformed businesses and communities through their contributions to gaming,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “From leading casino and supplier operations to advancing industry regulation and tribal gaming, Bill, Ellen, Jim and Bob’s far-reaching impacts on gaming are indelible—and undoubtedly worthy of inclusion in the Hall of Fame.”

Since 1989, the Gaming Hall of Fame has recognized gaming legends, pioneers and business leaders for their lasting impacts on the industry. The Class of 2023 were honored during an induction ceremony at G2E.

“The Gaming Hall of Fame honors the diverse ways gaming leaders elevate our industry,” said AGA Chairman of the Board & Hard Rock International Chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen. “This year’s class epitomizes this principle.”

Robert Miodunski, Former CEO, American Gaming Systems; Former President & CEO, Alliance Gaming; and President, Bally Gaming
As president of United Coin Machine Co. (a division of publicly traded Alliance Gaming Corp.) from 1994 to 1999, Miodunski built the nation’s largest gaming route operation, totaling more than 8,000 gaming devices. He also led the development and launch of Gamblers Bonus, the first patented cardless player tracking and bonusing system for route operations in Nevada. Promoted to president and CEO of Alliance Gaming and president of Bally Gaming in 1999, he led a team that resurrected the venerable Bally brand to its place as one of the global gaming industry’s top casino suppliers, eventually transforming into Bally Technologies. Miodunski retired in 2004, then returned to the industry in 2010 to head American Gaming Systems (AGS) as CEO, expanding the company’s footprint in Class II and Class III gaming.

Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation
Anoatubby has served as governor of the Chickasaw Nation since 1987. Early in his tenure, Anoatubby recognized the important role gaming could play in advancing sustainable economic development and self-determination for the tribe. Since 1987, gaming operations have helped drive the number of Chickasaw Nation employees from 250 to more than 14,000, expanding tribal assets two-hundredfold. Anoatubby played an integral role in establishing the Indian Gaming Association and Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, as well as negotiating the 2004 Oklahoma gaming compact which solidified the future of tribal gaming in the state.

Jim Murren, Former Chairman and CEO, MGM Resorts International
Murren is the former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, serving in the role from 2008 to 2020. During his time leading MGM Resorts, Murren guided the company through the wake of the Great Recession, overhauled the company’s health care policy to better serve employees, led technological innovation in gaming, and drove increased tourism to Las Vegas. Murren has also been an integral figure in bringing professional sports to Las Vegas, leading the construction of T-Mobile Arena, becoming a founding partner of the Vegas Golden Knights, organizing the purchase and relocation of the Las Vegas Aces, and more.

Ellen Whittemore, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Wynn Resorts
In her role at Wynn, Whittemore leads the company’s global legal affairs as well as the entirety of its philanthropic, community relations and government affairs activities. She has been instrumental in Wynn Resorts’ efforts to enhance its workplace culture as well as its corporate ethics and governance, and was integral in crafting the company’s global response to the pandemic. Whittemore is also a member of the board of directors of Wynn Macau, Limited. Her legal career spans more than 30 years in gaming and hospitality, during which she has represented many of the industry’s largest companies in noteworthy regulatory matters. Before her career in private and corporate practice, Whittemore served in the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Gaming Division, where she authored several Nevada Gaming Commission regulations that remain in place today.

Kick Up Your Heels for GGW Awards

Global Gaming WomenGlobal Gaming Women’s 13th Annual Kick Up Your Heels was held on Wednesday, October 11 at Wynn Las Vegas. Over 600 guests attended this premier fundraising event that was presented by Wynn Resorts, Coca-Cola, Aristocrat Gaming and Kirkland & Ellis. In addition to the support from additional event sponsors and the annual sustaining sponsors, GGW raised almost $450,000 for the GGW Charitable Education Fund that provides development offerings for professional women in the gaming industry.

Global Gaming Women also unveiled its brand makeover during the event. The announcement set the stage for a promising new chapter and left attendees raving about the new direction GGW is taking.

Lastly, the Patty Becker Pay It Forward awards were presented at Kick Up Your Heels. This year’s winners are as follows:

  • Grainne Hurst, Group Corporate Affairs Director, Entain Group
  • Siobhan Lane, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Gaming, Light & Wonder
  • Sue Schneider, Vice President of Growth & Strategy, Americas, Sports Betting Community, SBC
  • Tashina Lazcano, Director of Marketing and Communications, Konami Gaming
  • Brooke Fiumara, Co-Chief Executive Officer, OPTX
  • Erica Okerberg, Vice Chair, Global Gaming Practice Group, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

On Thursday, October 12, GGW’s in-person Sip & Social event proved to be another resounding success that fostered valuable connections and empowered over 400 attendees with insightful discussion and networking opportunities. The keynote speaker, Sandra Douglass Morgan, president of the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League, joined the group for a fireside chat centered on her journey throughout the gaming industry that ultimately led to her current tenure as the first black female team president in the NFL.

GGW membership represents women in commercial, tribal, suppliers, lottery, tourism, and digital. Soon after its launch, offering education and training, mentoring, and networking events, membership multiplied. GGW has more than 7,000 professional women members in all states and over 30 countries, with members in job level categories of 21 percent front-line leaders, 30 percent supervisors and managers, 25 percent directors, and 25 percent vice presidents or above. In addition to its traditional offerings, development programs include Lean-In Circles and Virtual Masterclasses.

AGEM Honors Two Industry Veterans

AGEM Honors Two Industry VeteransBob Manz and Victor Rocha were the recipients of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers’ (AGEM) 2023 Memorial Awards, presented at G2E. Manz received the Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism, and Rocha was given the Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications.

The late Bob Manz spent over a half century in the gaming supplier sector, including a 35-year stint with Bally Gaming and a decade with Rocket Gaming, among his many professional roles. Manz was involved in all facets of gaming supplier operations throughout his career, whether in sales, service and customer management, technical management or operations and game design, including his leadership in the design of Blazing 7s, a game theme that remains a staple in the Light & Wonder portfolio and was a foundational game concept for many games that followed.

AGEM President Bob Parente, who also serves as executive vice president and chief business development officer for Light & Wonder, said, “I was fortunate to know and admire Bob during part of his long tenured career in gaming. His knowledge, experience and insightfulness all contributed to a positive impact on both product innovation and the people around him. It’s an honor for AGEM to be able to recognize his contributions to the industry with this award.”

Victor Rocha, a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula, California, has been involved in Indian gaming since 1998 and has earned numerous awards for his work, including the Indian Gaming Association’s 2002 Outstanding Contribution to Indian Country, VCAT’s 2001 Catalyst Award, Global Gaming Business magazine’s “40 Under 40,” the 2012 Casino Marketing Lifetime Achievement Award, and the AGA’s Lifetime Achievement for Gaming Marketing.

In addition to serving as the conference chair of the Indian Gaming Association, Rocha founded and operates Pechanga.net, a website that was created to help his tribe stay informed on the rapidly changing world of politics and gaming, but soon expanded to become a resource for all Native American tribes in North America.

AGEM Executive Director Daron Dorsey said, “Victor has been, and remains, a critical source for information and issues surrounding Indian gaming in the United States. The growth and continued success of tribal gaming is critical for so many constituencies, and Victor’s commentary, analysis, and dedication to delivering news and information about the tribal landscape is appreciated by our entire industry. We are proud to honor Victor with this year’s Peter Mead award.”

Previous winners of the Jens Halle Award are Len Ainsworth, Rick Meitzler, Gavin Isaacs, Tom Nieman, Robert “Bob” McMonigle, Sebastian Salat, and Roy Student. Previous winners of the Peter Mead Award are Howard Stutz, Roger Gros, Frank Legato, Dave Palermo, David Orrick, Alan Feldman, and Frank Fantini.

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