19 January, 2024

Looking back and looking ahead

The Global Gaming Awards’ Event Manager discusses industry highlights from 2023, what can we expect in 2024 and why are the Global Gaming Awards an important event on the calendar.


2023 was certainly eventful for the gaming industry in the EMEA.  

In July, City of Dreams Mediterranean opened its doors in Limassol, Cyprus. The Melco Resorts & Entertainment-owned property brought the integrated resort concept, which is well-proven across Asia and the US, to Europe for the very first time. 

The United Arab Emirates is also set to welcome its first integrated resort with a gaming area – Wynn Al Marjan Island, scheduled to open in 2027. The design vision for the multi-billion-dollar project by Wynn Resorts was unveiled last year. Shortly after, the UAE announced a new regulatory body, headed by US gaming industry veterans Jim Murren and Kevin Mullally, to pave the way for a national lottery and commercial gaming in the country. 

And speaking of regulators, the Gambling Commission in the UK finally published its long-awaited White Paper, setting out the Government's plan for reform of gambling regulation in the country. Many opinions have been expressed on the White Paper ever since, but what everyone agrees on is that the industry has needed to evolve for some time. Sweden, Italy and Hungary also confirmed that by introducing amendments to their gambling regulation.  

Suppliers continued to push the boundaries of innovation with more companies deploying artificial intelligence in sophisticated new ways. Sportradar, for example, launched a suite of standalone AI-led solutions for in-house use by sportsbook operators to optimise the performance of their trading, risk management and marketing functions. Slot studios, such as BGaming, also used AI for some of their 2023 game releases. We also saw the launch of the industry’s first educational slot – Gerard's Gambit by Play’n GO, designed with a teach-as-you-play approach to appeal to a new audience of online slots players. 

Mobile games continued to enjoy huge popularity, especially in emerging markets like Africa. With customers using primarily mobile devices there, both suppliers and operators in the region have had to further optimise their products for mobile. 

The list of highlights can go on and on, but I will leave it here as you can find a lot more in the next pages where we recognise what various companies from the many industry verticals achieved in 2023. 


If there is one thing we can be certain of, it’s that responsible gaming will be a key focus for the industry in 2024 (and the years to come). For a while now the industry has openly been addressing the topic. Player protection is being discussed at every single trade show throughout the year and in numerous features, published by industry media, such as Gambling Insider. Despite gaming being a highly competitive industry, we can’t deny that everyone is coming together to cohesively plan how to serve players in the best and safest way possible. The 2023 edition of the annual European Safer Gambling Week saw a record 8 million safer gambling messages shared on social media platforms across 20 European countries, and we can expect the momentum to continue this year. 

Another topic that’s here to stay in 2024 will most likely be artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and how these can be applied in the gaming industry. Regulators and operators are increasingly adopting AI to support their safer gambling strategies. VR and AR in gambling are still relatively new, but knowing how quickly software developers and casinos move, it’s only a matter of time before the potential of these immersive technologies is harnessed. 

Last but certainly not least, 2024 is probably going to bring more M&A activity. We saw fewer mergers and acquisitions in 2023 than usual and news emerged of failed takeover bids (i.e. 888 and Playtech). Analysts say that the slowdown in M&A activity was due to the negative impact of higher interest rates on debt piles and private equity interest, as well as regulatory changes and uncertainties in various markets. If 2024 offers a better environment for M&A activity, we will definitely see some interesting developments.  


One thing that won’t change this year is us celebrating the industry’s best companies at the Global Gaming Awards.  

Last October we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our flagship event in Las Vegas and we are starting this year with the seventh Global Gaming Awards EMEA to be held in London, while also planning the third instalment of the Global Gaming Awards Asia-Pacific which will be heading to the Philippines in June. 

It is important to acknowledge the innovation, hard work and progress made by our industry. This is exactly why the Global Gaming Awards were launched in the first place. 

Each company and individual are always shortlisted for a specific reason which you can read in the following pages. The Shortlist was decided through extensive research by our team, consultation with independent industry experts and review of hundreds of self-nominations, submitted by companies.  

To keep things fair, we have ensured that companies are only nominated once per category, meaning that if a company has multiple brands, only one of them can be shortlisted in a particular category. We have 15 company categories with an equal number of nominees –10, and 25 nominees in the Executive of the Year category – the only one recognising individuals rather than organisations.  

With such a limited number of categories, it is natural that the Global Gaming Awards are so coveted. We refer to the Global Gaming Awards as the most prestigious in the industry. In part, this is because of all the rules I mentioned above. It is also because of how the winners are chosen. 

We invite 50 industry leaders, all with years of experience in the EMEA region, to choose the winners. They vote for a winner and a runner-up in each category and if there is a category where they have a conflict of interest, they are of course excluded from voting in it. KPMG in the Crown Dependencies independently adjudicates the voting process to ensure fairness and transparency. 

I would like to personally thank all executives who kindly agreed to participate in this year’s Judging Panel. Quite a few of the people you will find on the Judging Panel lead some of the biggest companies in the industry, yet they managed to find time to ensure that the best Awards in the industry will go to those that deserve them the most this year.  

Of course, big thank you goes to KPMG for adjudicating the voting process. I can’t wait to announce the winners soon, together with the lovely Micky Swindale, Partner at KPMG’s Global Gaming Team. 

To all shortlisted companies and executives this year, congratulations! You have made your mark on the industry in the past 12 months. We are looking forward to celebrating your achievements on 5 February at London’s Hippodrome Casino! 

 - Mariya Savova, Event Manager, Global Gaming Awards