A celebration of the most innovative and inspiring people in online gaming.

 

RAMIRO ATUCHA
chief operating officer
Leander Games

Leander Games founder Ramiro Atucha had the vision and humility to hire Steven Matsell to take over from himself as chief executive. He has ensured the company has delivered on all of Matsell’s promises as the pair have established Leander as a growing force among casino suppliers. Most important has been the relationship with PokerStars. Atucha has managed the integration of RGS platforms via Leander’s LEGA platform. This has helped Stars go live in the UK, Spain and with the .eu and .com domains. Denmark is next. At the same time, Atucha has managed operational relationships with Betfair, Paddy Power, Betsson, Vera&John and more, while overseeing staff in the firm’s Buenos Aires HQ. Every company would benefit from having a COO like Atucha.

VAHE BALOULIAN
chief executive officer
BetConstruct

Vahe Baloulian is a quiet man. But behind that exterior lurks a sharp and thoughtful mind. Baloulian has led BetConstruct through a period of unprecedented growth. It has doubled its client base from 70 to 140 in the past year and its new Hong Kong office takes its tally of offices to 10. Hong Kong will see it take on a new continent. Baloulian has not done it alone. He has a superbly supportive owner and some more outgoing sales and marketing executives. Baloulian likes to say that he – and BetConstruct – are learning all the time. Next time you get a chance to talk to him, listen. You might learn something too.

MATT COLE
director
Blueprint Gaming

Blueprint Gaming consistently delivers the best-performing games for the best operators. On any given day of the week, if you took the top five games at bet365, Paddy Power, Sky Bet or William Hill, it is likely the majority would have been developed by Matt Cole’s team at Blueprint Gaming. Soon, you will be able to add PokerStars to that list. Cole’s ability to consistently deliver the best games in the market is becoming legendary.

PER ERIKSSON
chief executive officer
NetEnt

The Swedish casino games developer is without doubt one of the leading suppliers in the industry today, and that success is in no small part due to the leadership of Per Eriksson. After another phenomenal year, during which revenue and profit has continued to grow, he has led the company’s expansion into the lucrative UK market and helped make its mark across the pond in New Jersey, where it has secured deals with all five licensees. NetEnt continues to blaze the trail for wannabe developers. Its next trick will be to conquer the land-based segment. It will be a big challenge for Eriksson but you wouldn’t want to bet against him.

EBBE GROES
chief executive officer
EveryMatrix

After years of operating in predominantly grey markets and working with lower-tier operators, EveryMatrix is going mainstream with a major overhaul of its product portfolio. Chief executive Ebbe Groes believes that the time is right for the company to take on the major suppliers, and EveryMatrix 2, as Groes has named the project, sees the business leave its small, but successful, niche to do so. This is a calculated risk. Having worked under the radar for so long this opens up the company to increased scrutiny, but new sign-ups such as Boylesports and Sporting Index suggest it is succeeding.

CARSTEN KOERL
chief executive officer
Sportradar

Sportradar is well established as a sports data provider and in 2015 has continued to expand its range of integrity partnerships with a number of sporting associations. It is even moving into the US, supported by celebrity partners such as basketball legend Michael Jordan and celebrity billionaire Mark Cuban. Perhaps most exciting, however, is the growth of its virtual sports offering, under its Betradar subsidiary. Carsten Koerl has invested in developing a product capable of rivalling market-leader Inspired, underpinned with strong data solutions to offer a realistic experience to players. With the virtuals market growing rapidly, Koerl’s decision to invest in this vertical was a masterstroke – a supplier no less than Playtech is already spending heavily to catch up.

JORDAN LEVIN
president of interactive
Scientific Games

Jordan Levin will be a busy man in 2016 as SG Interactive looks to dominate the iGaming supply market through its Bally, Barcrest, Shuffle Master and Williams games studios. SG’s online and mobile content will be everywhere, and with further opportunities in the lottery segment, Levin, under the watchful eye of CEO Gavin Isaacs, will be charged with taking the supplier to the next level. Since his days at WMS, he has shown that he knows what operators want from their games, and for that he is recognised as a winner.

MARK LOCKE
chief executive officer
Genius Sports Group

The company formerly known as BetGenius has a renewed sense of purpose after a rebrand and restructuring. Mark Locke could easily have put the company up for sale or stepped back to bring in new management, but has instead decided to lead the reformed business. Shrewdly, he has moved to tap into the sports data and integrity market with Sport Integrity Monitor, thus diversifying the range of solutions. The company is also forging new frontiers. It now trades eSports for bet365 and William Hill and does 70 per cent of Sky Bet’s trading. Genius might be pushing it, but Locke is definitely taking the business in the right direction.

JOACHIM TIMMERMANS
chief product officer
Quickspin

This Swedish games developer has grown quickly and Joachim Timmermans has been a huge reason for that. The company clearly has good developers but Timmermans’ background at Unibet brought a depth of operator-side knowhow to the business. The company has moved on from being a pure games developer to being a platform provider, and Timmermans’ influence on this change of strategy was key. He was also a driving force behind the deal with Relax Gaming. Subsequent deals with Mr Green and Casumo show he was spot on. Again.

ORY WEIHS
chief executive officer
XLMedia

Since going public in 2014, XLMedia has embarked on a seemingly relentless period of growth, with revenue expected to hit $88m for 2015. Ory Weihs serves as the company’s figurehead. The company has been active for more than a decade but Weihs has dragged it up a gear with recent investment used to develop its performance marketing solutions and an acquisition strategy that has seen it leap to prominence. Weihs is a veteran of digital marketing in the online gaming sector and can be expected to ensure his company continues to thrive.

JINGWEI WU
executive director & president
China LotSynergy

China LotSynergy is emerging as the number one technology provider to the gargantuan Chinese lottery market. Jingwei Wu has brought in investment from China’s largest internet service provider Tencent, which gave it real muscle. It has continued to win deals that its rivals cast envious eyes at. Included in 2015’s haul was a deal to provide a national sports betting lottery to Cambodia, a deal with Guangdong, which the company described as the largest single terminal equipment procurement order in China’s lottery history, plus the company’s first steps into the potentially massive mobile market. Wu works very closely with CEO Ting Lau and she is expecting great things.

ITAI ZAK
chief executive officer
SBTech

Itai Zak has turned SBTech into one of the leading sports betting software suppliers around since taking charge four-and-a-half years ago. A visionary, he takes a hands-on approach and leads by example. SBTech continues to grow its client list, which at the moment tends to be second tier operators, but the supplier is on the verge of fighting the likes of Playtech and OpenBet for the big contracts. Few would bet against Zak making it happen.

The Gaming Intelligence Hot 50 of 2016

Hot 50 2016 - Operator Icons
Hot 50 2016 - Backstage Heroes
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Hot 50 2016 - Explorers
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