The ten of diamonds: the Global Gaming Awards marks tenth year

July 26, 2023

Gaming America reflects on the Global Gaming Awards' journey so far, ahead of their 10th anniversary, with Julian Perry and Mariya Savova.

When the Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas arrive at the Venetian later this year, it will mark the 10th edition of the ceremony. From Derek Stevens’ charismatic suits to Soo Kim’s trademark Bally’s baseball cap, the Global Gaming Awards have seen a variety of winners over the years – from land-based to online, and from table games to sports betting. The industry has changed in that time, and so with it have the Awards winners – as voted by the Awards’ esteemed panel of C-Level Judges over the years.

But what impact have the Awards had? What do they tell us about the global gaming industry? And why, in the first place, did Gaming America Editor-in-Chief Julian Perry even found the Awards? Gaming America spoke to him and Mariya Savova, Event Manager, to look back over the last 10 years, from standout winners to memorable moments and more.


Outside of the Global Gaming Awards and Gaming America teams, were there any driving forces that helped turn the ceremony into what it is now?

Julian Perry: Looking back, there are two people I could not fail to mention. The first is Micky Swindale (Partner at KPMG’s Global Gaming Team). Micky has been at every Awards ceremony – even the virtual ones! – across Las Vegas, London and now Asia-Pacific. The belief she had in the Awards, and the pedigree she brings when it comes to adjudication and industry representation is second to none.

But I also have to mention Matt Davey. Now CEO at Tekkorp, where he is still helping to mould the direction of the industry, Matt was previously the CEO of NYX Gaming and SG Digital. From day one, he believed in the Global Gaming Awards 100%. When key individuals within the industry see what we are trying to achieve, it justifies our vision and shows that the sector acknowledges and understands that vision. Matt has always been instrumental and his assistance helped propel the Global Gaming Awards in the early years.


What moments stand out to you over the last few years? Is there one that immediately comes to mind?

Mariya Savova: I have a couple of favorite moments. The first one is from 2019 when Incredible Technologies won the Product Innovation of the year category. They were up against some of the industry’s biggest companies in that category and when Micky from KPMG announced that IT was a winner, the company’s team genuinely could not believe it. If you look back at photos from that year you can just see the pure joy from IT’s President & CEO, Elaine Hodgson – to this day she’s the happiest winner I remember.

Another moment that stands out for me is from last year, when Amy Howe took home the American Executive of the year award. At that time she had been with FanDuel for a little over a year. She joined the biggest online sports betting operator in the US from outside of the gaming industry and was appointed CEO just a few months later. Within one year of her assuming the CEO role, the gaming industry voted her American Executive of the year. It was amazing to see her efforts being recognized so quickly by her fellow industry executives. It of course also showed that our industry can be very welcoming. And for women like myself, who work in the gaming industry, it was inspiring to see Amy pick up this Award.


How has the industry changed in recent years, and is it fair to say the Global Gaming Awards are representative of that change?

MS: The industry just doesn’t slow down! Every year, before we start the process for the Awards, we look at recent industry trends and evaluate whether the Awards categories represent the industry at this moment in time. For example, as sports betting continued to grow at a phenomenal rate, we added the Sportsbook Supplier of the year category. When the industry started to shine a light on the importance of payment processors, wallets and other cashless technology, we added the Payment Solution of the year category.

Industry changes are also reflected within the actual Shortlist as well. For instance, over the past couple of years, one of hottest topics has been technology and how it is transforming land-based casinos. That is why in the Shortlist for Land-Based Product of the year we have started seeing more casino management platforms rather than classic casino products like cabinets and card shufflers.


As you look back now, are any winners in particular memorable?

JP: Most definitely. I remember the 2021 Awards so well: when the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians brought what felt like its whole Tribe on stage because they were so proud. You could see the delight they took in winning but also that this is a true family, not just a corporate business. When they won Responsible Business of the year in 2022, it was much the same; we were treated to a beautiful speech from Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. MGM Resorts is another winner I always remember. I can still hear the cheers from a table full of C-Level executives in 2015 to this day!


What do you hope the legacy and impact of the Global Gaming Awards are and will continue to be?

MS: I hope everyone will continue to see the Global Gaming Awards as the most prestigious in the industry. We are working hard to produce Awards that companies are proud to even be Shortlisted for, as they have indeed earned their place amongst the 10 best in the industry. I think from the very first edition of our flagship event in Las Vegas, the industry saw the integrity of Awards – the fact that we nominate companies for a specific reason, the quality of the Judging Panel and the presence of KPMG as the official voting adjudicator. All this made it easy for us to expand the Global Gaming Awards beyond the Americas. We have had an event for the EMEA region for six years now, and one for Asia-Pacific for two years – both of which received the same positive response from the industry in those regions for the exact same reasons. I hope that all three Global Gaming Awards events will continue to grow and recognize the best performers from all industry verticals, and I hope companies continue to respond so positively when we tell them they have been nominated.


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