Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas 2023: Check out the Shortlist for American Executive of the year

September 1, 2023
By

American Executive of the year is the only Global Gaming Awards category with 25 rather than 10 nominees and the only category which recognizes the individual rather than the company.

Gaming America and the Global Gaming Awards are delighted to reveal the final Shortlist for American Executive of the year, sponsored by leading sportsbook supplier Kambi.

This year marks the 10th edition of the Global Gaming Awards’ flagship event in Las Vegas, which rewards success achieved by operators and suppliers across the Americas.

Every individual is shortlisted for the Global Gaming Awards for a specific reason which you will find further below. The full Shortlist for all other categories will be released in the coming days so watch this space.

The winners will be chosen by a panel of 100 C-level industry executives. KPMG in the Crown Dependencies is independently adjudicating the voting process to ensure fairness and transparency.

“Congratulations to the 25 executives who have made it to this year’s Shortlist,” said Julian Perry, Editor-in-Chief of Gaming America and Gambling Insider.

“We look forward to celebrating with them all on October 9,” he added.

Below you can see the full Shortlist for this year’s American Executive of the year (listed in no particular order), together with the reasons for each individual’s nomination.

  • Cath Burns, COO, Anaxi - Cath Burns has been with Aristocrat for over three years, establishing the Customer Experience Solutions (CXS) business enablement strategy and playing an instrumental role in the building of the third business pillar of the company - Anaxi, as it made an entry into online RMG. With 20+ years of experience in the global gaming industry, Cath was recently promoted as Anaxi’s Chief Operating Officer to lead the combined CXS and iGaming team to the next chapter of growth.
  • John Connelly, Global CEO, Interblock - John Connelly is a highly respected and proven leader, with over thirty years of experience in gaming and a distinguished track record of business development, innovation, and M&As. His extensive background within US and international markets has played a pivotal role in increasing Interblock’s market share, development, and profitability over the past 8 years. Under his leadership, Interblock has become a global market leader in the electronic table games segment while continuing to innovate and develop new technology, with the latest one being the revolutionary Smart Pit. Oaktree Capital's acquisition of Interblock in June 2022 demonstrates John’s unwavering commitment to the company.
  • Heidi Grant, Executive Officer of Gaming & Hospitality, Choctaw Nation - Heidi Grant has been an integral part of the Choctaw Nation gaming business and was instrumental in the growth and expansion of more than 22 casino renovations and new construction projects for the Tribe, including the recent luxury expansion at Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant. In her current role as Executive Officer, she oversees four stand-alone casinos, three casino resorts with more than 2,000 hotel rooms, and 15 Casino Too locations, a family entertainment center, and an RV Park.
  • Adam Greenblatt, CEO, BetMGM - Adam Greenblatt is driving the evolution of BetMGM. He has managed to turn the company to profitability in H1 2023, a quarter earlier than originally projected. His expertise in omnichannel gaming puts BetMGM in prime position to capitalize on its partnerships with MGM Resorts International and Entain. After only 3 years, Adam’s leadership cemented BetMGM’s credibility in sports betting, with each BetMGM sportsbook market delivering positive contributions in Q2, and established the company as the market leader in iGaming, with 27% market share for H1 2023. 
  • Jordan Levin, CEO, OpenBet - Guiding the OpenBet team seamlessly through its acquisition by Endeavor, CEO Jordan Levin’s unrivaled leadership skills and M&A experience proved vital during the past year. Under his leadership, OpenBet increased its revenue by 28% in 2022, celebrated 58 launches and was the only provider with zero downtime during the Super Bowl LVII, remaining the market leader in the US and Canada.
  • Peter Arceo, Chief Gaming Officer, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians - Earlier this year Peter Arceo assumed the Chief Gaming Officer Role for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, after serving as the CMO, Casino COO and, most recently, General Manager of the Tribe’s flagship Yaamava’ Resort & Casino in Southern California. As General Manager of Yaamava, his strong leadership helped the Tribe achieve its most ambitious gaming and hospitality expansion yet, including an expanded gaming floor, entertainment venue and hotel. 
  • Amy Howe, CEO, FanDuel - As CEO of FanDuel, Amy Howe is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company’s core commercial functions across its sportsbook, casino, racing and daily fantasy units. Within two years in the CEO chair, Howe has guided FanDuel to phenomenal growth. Under her leadership FanDuel cemented itself as the USA’s market leader in online sports betting and as of Q2 2023 holds 47% market share.
  • Omer Sattar, CEO & Co-Founder, Sightline - Omer Sattar continues to be one of the leading innovators in gaming. Under his co-leadership, Sightline became Nevada’s first fintech unicorn and is leading the way in gaming’s digital transformation, developing the processes, systems, and network for a more modern payments infrastructure for the industry. He played a key role in the launch of the Las Vegas Strip’s first cashless casino, Resorts World Las Vegas, and the effort to allow remote ID verification in Nevada.
  • Joe Lupo, President, The Mirage Hotel & Casino - After four years as President of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City (where he delivered amazing results for the property), last year Joe Lupo was tasked to run the Mirage Hotel & Casino Las Vegas as it transitions into Hard Rock Las Vegas. Under his leadership the property has already been driving up gaming volume by adding more slot machines, small pits and ETGs to the casino. Lupo also saw an opportunity to attract more locals to the property and introduced various incentives for them to visit The Mirage, such as free parking, discounts to spa packages and midweek performances. 
  • Benjie Levy, Head of Penn Interactive and President & COO, theScore - Levy leads all day-to-day operations at theScore, as well as strategy and corporate development across its integrated media and gaming businesses. He has been integral in leading the evolution of theScore into a technology driven, mobile-first company that uniquely integrates media and betting. Most recently, he spearheaded theScore Bet’s launch in its home province of Ontario in April 2022 where the operator took an early lead on competitors, and the milestone completion of its proprietary technology stack in July last year. Last year Levy assumed an additional role - Head of Penn Interactive, in which he oversees PENN Entertainment’s digital segment.
  • Rachel Barber, SVP and CTO, Global Gaming, IGT - At IGT, Rachel Barber is involved in the development and deployment of all of IGT's land based casino, VLT and lottery products and naturally, has been instrumental to the company’s success. She oversees the management of several hundred projects a year that span across application modernization, new hardware deployments and new systems products.
  • Alex Dixon, CEO, Q Casino and Dubuque Racing Association - Alex Dixon leads a very unique property - the Q Casino, one of only two non-profit casinos in the country. Under his leadership Q Casino is now well positioned to begin a $75 million-plus renovation and expansion project which will transform the old greyhound racing area into usable space, as well as refresh and enhance what is offered on the casino floor. Dixon recently started a podcast series to shine a light on the evolution of Dubuque, to educate the region about its rich history in “community-first” and current day growth as a destination to live, work, and play. He also co-founded the African Americans in Gaming group as a professional support organization for allies and peers in the industry.
  • Sal Semola, CEO, Gun Lake Casino - Sal Semola, the CEO of Gun Lake Casino, has a clear vision for the future of the Gun Lake Tribe and his leadership and forward-thinking approach will benefit the Gun Lake Tribe for years. A few recent examples include: a $300m expansion, with which Semola aims to create a world-class resort destination, and a $2.5m partnership which he signed with the Special Olympics of Michigan earlier this year, demonstrating a commitment to giving back to the community.
  • Doug Fallon, Group Director Content, Bragg Gaming - Doug Fallon is directly responsible for the rise of Bragg Studios brands in the US, including premium slots studio Wild Streak Gaming, founded by Doug in 2015 and acquired by Bragg in 2021, Spin Games and two new brands Atomic Slot Lab and Indigo Magic. Doug’s success in slot game development for both land-based and online markets has also attracted multiple partners to the Powered by Bragg program including Bluberi, Sega Sammy Creation, Galaxy Gaming, Incredible Technologies, King Show Games and Gaming Arts.
  • Jenny Holaday, President, Encore Boston Harbor - In 2021, Jenny Holaday became the first woman to run a casino in Massachusetts, and not just any casino but the Encore Boston Harbor - one of the most successful and popular destinations in the Northeast for hospitality, gaming and dining. She oversees all aspects of the casino, including finances, marketing, and sales. Under her leadership, the property has cemented itself as the market leader in the state, and in January this year successfully launched in-person sports betting.
  • Thomas A. Jingoli, EVP & COO, Konami Gaming - For decades, Thomas A. Jingoli has been an active force in creating industry wide collaboration. He is an officer for the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and has served on the Board of Advisors for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling; UNLV Board of Trustees; and Advisory Board for the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Jingoli also led Konami Gaming’s support as a founder of UNLV’s Hospitality Hall and the KONAMI Gaming Laboratory. He oversees all activities spanning Konami’s Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and Customer Service Departments, and is therefore instrumental to the company's success.
  • Seth Schorr, CEO, Fifth Street Gaming - A seasoned gaming and hospitality executive, Seth Schorr has been leading Fifth Street Gaming in serving the Hispanic and Latino community in the US for over 15 years now. In 2021, Schorr founded FSG Digital, a multimedia and entertainment brand focused on engaging the Latino audience in the USA and in Latin America. In early 2023, he opened the Ojos Locos Sports Cantina y Casino and accompanying Hotel Jefe in Las Vegas - the first casino in the United States created specifically for the Latino audience.
  • Jason Robins, CEO, Chairman & Co-Founder, DraftKings - Jason Robins oversees DraftKings’ strategy and operations, while also driving financing and strategic initiatives. Under his leadership DraftKings’ reach continuously expands across numerous platforms through wide-ranging, forward-thinking strategic relationships. Robins has led efforts at DraftKings to work with policy makers and regulators to pass fantasy sports, sports betting and iGaming legislation. He positioned DraftKings as a top player in the US and led it to achieve a new milestone in Q2 2023 - reaching EBITDA profitability.
  • Lindsay Slader, SVP Compliance, GeoComply - Lindsay Slader has provided expert testimony on regulatory compliance, geolocation technologies, and her gaming industry expertise at several state and federal hearings throughout the years, and is frequently a public speaker on these topics. Slader has been a key member of GeoComply’s management team since its inception in 2011 and has held various roles within the company, the most recent ones being Managing Director-Gaming and as of June last year - SVP Compliance. Her leadership has been instrumental in making GeoComply the trusted provider of geolocation and compliance solutions for the online gaming industry.
  • Anika Howard, President & CEO, WONDR NATION - Anika Howard leads the digital entity of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. She develops the company’s overall mission and culture and leads the daily operations and ongoing initiatives, bringing a fresh approach to what’s next for the gaming sphere. Under her leadership, last fall WONDR NATION launched its professional managed services with the relaunch and rebrand of FoxPlay Social Casino. Together with her team, Howard also launched the youth-focused Wondr Smart Labs - learning centers that provide STEM-based learning, plus access to emerging technology, digital tools and technology resources. She is also an active advocate for building an inclusive industry - she is co-founder and co-chair of African Americans in Gaming and is on the Board of Global Gaming Women where she chairs the DEI Committee.
  • Ray Pineault, President & CEO, Mohegan - Ray Pineault drives the overall success of Mohegan alongside the Tribal Council. He creates and executes the operator’s global vision, strategy and direction. Under his leadership, Mohegan increased its online presence with the launch of digital gaming in Ontario last year and is nearing the completion of its IR in Incheon, South Korea. Pineault was also instrumental in Mohegan being chosen by the Soloviev Group as the casino partner for the group’s NYC casino bid, which, if approved, will create an “entertainment district”, adjacent to the UN campus.
  • Sheila Morago, Executive Director, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association - Sheila Morago has worked in the gaming industry for over two decades now. She often speaks at industry events on Tribal gaming matters and together with OIGA, actively promotes the general welfare of the Oklahoma Indian Tribes, and educates Tribal, federal, and state governments and the general public on issues relating to Tribal government gaming. As the Executive Director of OIGA she has been the driving force in gathering thousands of executives in Tulsa to celebrate and advance the industry at the annual OIGA Tradeshow & Convention. Year after year, Morago ensures the show returns bigger and better. Last year, she was also appointed to the governing board of the International Center for Responsible Gaming.
  • Derek Stevens, Owner & CEO, Circa Resort & Casino - Over the past few years, Derek Stevens has played and continues to play a huge role revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas by bringing a new casino and sports betting experience, and as of last year - meeting and conventions. Under his leadership, Circa (as well as its sister properties, Golden Gate and The D) are constantly elevating the customer experience. Stevens is also the Founder of Circa Sports, which has a retail and online presence in Nevada and beyond and has made a name for itself with its large contests and by taking larger bets and welcoming the sharp bettors. Under Steven’s leadership Circa Sports is now one of Nevada’s leading sports betting operators.
  • Matt Wilson, President & CEO, Light & Wonder - Matt Wilson took over the CEO role at Light & Wonder at a time when the company was going through significant change, having divested its lottery and sports betting businesses and undergone a rebrand. He demonstrated impressive leadership, strategic vision and passion for the business, essentially leading Light & Wonder into a new era. Under his leadership, Light & Wonder had a pivotal year - it delivered operational success and double-digit growth across all business segments, and fully acquired SciPlay, further accelerating the company’s cross-platform strategy and creating a stronger platform for growth.  
  • Kimberly Pearson, CEO, Osage Casinos - At the end of last year, Kimberly Pearson was appointed CEO of Osage Casinos, becoming the first woman to lead the seven-property gaming and entertainment enterprise, which serves as the primary funding source for critical Osage Nation programs. Pearson has spent the majority of her career at Osage Casinos and has held various roles, including Executive Director and later COO. She played a critical role in the success of the organization over the last several years and was instrumental in the opening of three Vegas-style casino hotels. In her current role, her main focus is to build up on the momentum Osage Casinos has and position the business for future growth. 

The Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas are powered by Gaming America and Gambling Insider, with KPMG in the Crown Dependencies independently adjudicating the voting process. BetConstruct is the event’s Lead Partner.

This year’s category sponsors include IGT, Bragg Gaming, Spribe, Aristocrat Gaming, Interblock, Light & Wonder, Novomatic, Play’n GO, Table Trac, the SiGMA Foundation, EGT and Kambi.

The winners will be revealed at a luncheon ceremony on October 9 at The Venetian Las Vegas. The event will be live-streamed for those who can’t be in attendance.

Companies can book their tables at the event on the Awards’ official website.

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