The Global Gaming Awards are pleased to announce the final Shortlist for the Executive of the Year category, sponsored by Bragg Gaming.
The Global Gaming Awards are the most reputable and prestigious Awards in the gaming industry, not only because of the rigorous voting process, independently adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Dependencies, but also because every shortlisted company is nominated for a specific reason, which is then publicly announced. The Executive of the year category is no exception.
“There are so many people that deserve recognition for pushing not just their companies forward but the entire industry," said Julian Perry, Editor-in-Chief of Gambling Insider. "Unfortunately we can’t recognise absolutely everyone but we’ve tried our best by making this the only Global Gaming Awards category with 25 nominees rather than 10.”
The full Shortlist for each category will be released in the public domain in the coming weeks and the winners will be announced in April. For now, we are delighted to share the full list of nominees in the Executive of the year category, with the reason why each of them has been nominated. And the nominees are:
- Brigid Simmonds, Chair, Betting & Gaming Council - Simmonds has held the position of Chair since the BGC was established in 2019. She has overseen another successful year, which has placed greater focus on the impact of gambling on younger players. Additionally, she worked hard to campaign both for the industry and to improve standards within the industry.
- David Newton, CEO, Paddy Power Retail - Now at Paddy Power for over 10 years, Newton has overseen the growth of the retail brand, which boasts 625 betting shops across the UK and Ireland. Newton has led the retail branch to recover from the pandemic-enforced closure with Paddy Power-owner Flutter Entertainment saying that UK betting shop revenue has jumped higher than pre-Covid levels since reopening in June.
- Marina Ostrovtsova, Executive Director, BGaming - Starting to work as an Executive Director from BGaming’s inception, Marina showed herself as a reliable and active leader. She launched a large number of projects and processes that were appreciated by operators around the world. Marina has successfully established all the development and marketing processes from the ground up that allowed BGaming to become a reputable and creative game studio.
- Itai Pazner, CEO, 888 Holdings - Under Pazner’s leadership 888 Holdings enjoyed a period of outstanding strategic growth in the past 12 month. He guided the company to secure a £2.2 billion deal to buy William Hill’s European business (a landmark moment in 888’s history) while at the same time growing the company’s key product verticals of online casino, sport and poker.
- Carsten Koerl, Group CEO, Sportradar - For 20+ years, Sportradar CEO & founder, Carsten Koerl has combined sports and analytics. Today, Sportradar is the world’s leading end-to-end technology provider in the field of sports with 2,300+ employees in 19 countries. Under his leadership, Sportradar helped keep the sports betting industry alive during the pandemic with proprietary in-house content & innovative ways of delivering new products. In September 2021, Sportradar debuted on Nasdaq with a valuation of nearly US$8 billion.
- Todd Haushalter, Chief Product Officer, Evolution - Todd oversees all aspects of Evolution’s hugely successful games including new product development. Under his leadership in 2021 Evolution brought the popular Lightning brand to the player favourite Blackjack; improved the Baccarat experience in Asia with the thrilling Red Envelope multiplier feature; and introduced more decision-making and strategy into the company’s live game shows to expand the space to a wider and new audience.
- Katerina Belorusskaya, Founder, Parimatch Tech - Belorusskaya is actively involved in forming the make-up of Parimatch Tech, a lot of its HR, PR and CSR functions. In the past year she focused more on corporate control, capital and talent management - putting people at the heart of the business. Additionally, she serves as Chairwoman of the Parimatch Foundation, which helps the societies in which Parimatch operates in a number of ways.
- John Connelly, CEO, Interblock Gaming - Interblock CEO John Connelly is a respected leader with 30 plus years of experience in the gaming sector and a distinguished record of business development, innovation, mergers and acquisitions. He made health and safety a priority, while methodically ramping-up R&D efforts and offering unique solutions that have aided in bringing players back to the casino floor. Connelly’s unwavering commitment to the industry will blaze the trail for the future of electronic table games.
- Maris Catania, Head of Responsible Gaming and Research, Kindred Group - Kindred Group is one of the industry leaders when it comes to Responsible Gambling efforts and a lot of it is down to the work done by its Head of Responsible Gambling and Research - Maris Catania. Maris is also one of the key people involved in organising the Sustainable Gambling Conference which has now become a key event for operators.
- Michael Daly, CEO, Catena Media - Prior to stepping into the CEO role, Daly transformed Catena’s growing US media operations. In just about a year as CEO he has led the super-affiliate to achieve fantastic financial results in 2021 (including doubling the revenue in Japan in Q3), positioning the company for further growth in the next 12 months.
- Gustaf Hagman, Group CEO, LeoVegas - Gustaf Hagman has over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and the online gaming industry and has previously built organisations to over 100 employees. As the group’s CEO Gustaf works with the company’s strategy and planning and leads the company to achieve the goals that the board and the owners have set up. Under his leadership LeoVegas has continuously shown favourable revenue growth, with the past 12 months being no exception.
- Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and CEO, FDJ - Stéphane Pallez has managed to transform French national-lottery operator Française des Jeux (FDJ) and has led the company to expand to online sports betting. Under her leadership the group reported growth across all areas of its business in H1 and Q3 2021. In Q2 only FDJ confirmed a recovery in its business to levels above those recorded before the pandemic.
- Jesper Søgaard, Co-Founder & CEO, Better Collective - Under Søgaard’s leadership in 2021 affiliate Better Collective closed a $240m acquisition of the Action Network, the largest deal in the company’s history. Additionally he steered the company to quickly enter the newly re-launched Dutch igaming market with the acquisition of two Dutch sports media brands; and increased the company’s commitment to responsible gambling by launching the Gamalyze self-assessment tool on its main sports betting media brands.
- Cecilia Wachtmeister, EVP Business & Group Functions, Kambi - Splitting her time between the company’s London and Stockholm offices, Cecilia earned praise for her management of the commercial, marketing and strategic directives over the past year. In particular the commercial team led by her has achieved phenomenal results, with Kambi more than doubling its revenue in H1 2021.
- Vigen Badalyan, Founder & CEO, BetConstruct - Vigen Badalyan continued to take both BetConstruct and VBet to new heights in 2021. Under his leadership VBet secured licence approval in the Ukrainian market, and BetConstruct kept strengthening its position as a leading sports betting and igaming supplier by launching a number of new innovative products such as Hands-Do, Express Roulette, SpringBuilder X, etc.
- Aiste Garneviciene, COO, BetGames - Aiste has made BetGames the most exciting supplier across the Live Casino and Dealer verticals. The company’s immersive betting experience, ease-of-use, high bet rates and record-low CPAs ensure a highly capable growth strategy under her leadership. Integral to developing BetGames’ unique products, including her very own War of Bets, she has built the company’s success since 2012 across Europe and Africa, while her personal management style has nurtured a relaxed yet effective workplace.
- Martina Åkerlund, CEO, Triggy - After a number of years spent in banking and finance, a little over a year ago Åkerlund took over the CEO role at Stockholm-based in-play sports betting solutions provider Triggy. Since then she has led the brand as it has cut through the marketplace with its ability to connect sports data, live odds and user insights. Under her leadership last year Triggy partnered with super-affiliate Better Collective for the launch of live-score mobile apps across a range of markets.
- Dima Reiderman, COO, BtoBet - Reiderman was key in BtoBet’s agreements with Tier 1 operators William Hill and Betfair in Latin America, with the leading bookmakers becoming one of the first global B2B partners to leverage BtoBet’s position in the market since its acquisition by Aspire Global. This has led the company to greatly consolidate its already leading position in the region, whilst expanding its footprint significantly in Europe and Africa through strategic partnerships.
- Daniela Johansson, Chief Responsibility Officer and Deputy CEO, Paf - Johansson has overseen an important year in Paf’s 55-year history. The company recently lowered its loss limit further, ensuring players are responsibly protected while gambling. She also oversees the company’s progress in terms of environmental sustainability and has pledged to work on reducing Paf’s climate impact both in the short term and in the long term.
- Dylan Slaney, CEO iGaming, SG Digital - OpenGaming by Scientific Games is the industry’s leading digital content aggregation platform, thanks to the hard work and leadership shown by CEO iGaming, Dylan Slaney. The OGS aggregation platform has reached new heights with new content added from major providers, including Evolution, NetEnt and Playtech. Dylan’s vision has also led to SG Digital’s first-ever acquisition of a live casino provider, Authentic Gaming, and the purchase of Lightning Box to enhance its offering.
- Renato Ascoli, CEO Global Gaming, IGT - Under Ascoli's Leadership in 2021 IGT emerged as a leader in cashless gaming and launched a vast portfolio of new games and cabinets into the market. IGT is well-positioned for new opportunities in APAC, LAC and EMEA. Ascoli mentors the next generation of leaders and is the executive co-sponsor of PRIDE with IGT, a group that supports initiatives raised by members of IGT’s LGBTQ+ community.
- Mor Weizer, CEO, Playtech - Mor Weizer has steered Playtech and its people through with compassion, commitment and clarity. Under his leadership, Playtech has emerged from the challenges of the COVID pandemic as a stronger, more sustainable company whilst retaining its commitment to its people, and raising industry standards. He has implemented a number of initiatives to drive long-term sustainable change in Playtech and the wider industry. Despite the many commercial and organisational challenges, he has served as the leading advocate for safer gambling innovation.
- Denise Coates, Founder and Joint CEO, bet365 - Denise Coates is synonymous with the industry itself, as is the Coates family on the whole. Now into its third decade of operation, bet365 continues to go from strength-to-strength under Coates’ leadership. It continues to push responsible gambling awareness, while Coates herself donates significantly to charitable causes on an annual basis.
- Mark Locke, CEO, Genius Sports - Data and technology firm Genius Sports has enjoyed a successful 12 months under Locke’s leadership, launching on the NYSE and thus entering a whole new chapter in the company’s history. He also led the company to achieve strong financial results in the past 12 months, for instance Q3 2021 saw Genius Sports revenue jump 70% YoY, driven by growth across all business segments.
- Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO, Entain - After being appointed CEO of Entain in January 2021, Nygaard-Andersen has revolutionised the company, positioning it well for sustainable growth by putting in more effort in responsibility and innovation. Under her leadership Entain has not only shown favourable financial results for the past 12 months, but also launched fantastic campaigns targeting global communities such as EnTrain, a multi-million-pound global initiative to increase access to technology and improve diversity.
This category is sponsored by Bragg Gaming – the global gaming technology and content group and owner of leading B2B iGaming companies, while the Global Gaming Awards London are powered by Gambling Insider. The London edition of the event recognises companies and individuals with outstanding performance outside of the Americas over the past 12 months.
BetConstruct is the event’s lead partner and the voting process is independently adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Dependencies, to ensure full transparency and fairness. Category sponsors include Digitain, BGaming, Trust Payments, Altenar, SOFTSWISS, AstroPay, Stakelogic and EGT Interactive.