Lee Amaitis - CEO, Cantor Gaming
Cantor Gaming is one of Nevada’s most successful online technology companies. Its race and sportsbooks are found in 11 of the state’s casinos and that figure is growing all the time. However, it is the company’s mobile innovations that win Amaitis a place in the Hot 50. In August, Cantor launched a Wi-Fi enabled sports betting app that allows players to bet on sporting events from any location within the state of Nevada via any Wi-Fi enabled device. Amaitis deserves credit for getting the regulator to green light the technology as much as the technical innovation. That would have been enough to win him a place but Amaitis did not stop there. In June, Cantor made its first move into California with the signing of an agreement to provide a complete mobile casino gaming solution to the Colusa Casino Resort. It followed that up with a provisional agreement to provide an intrastate online poker platform for California-based thoroughbred racing and breeding association, Horse Racing United. Next stop, presumably, is New Jersey.
Chris Ash - CEO, Ash Gaming
Chris Ash founded Ash Gaming in 2004. Since it was acquired by Playtech in 2011, Ash was made managing director of the company’s content aggregation platform GTS. Ash’s management skills are as highly praised as his slots. GTS has over 20 active content partners and is constantly seeking to add new quality developers. In this role, Ash plays a key role in content strategy for the entire Playtech group. During 2012, Ash released its highly profitable and innovative Wild Gambler slot and the first Ash products made their debut on mobile.
John Connelly - VP Business Development, Bally
John Connelly’s day job is VP of business development for Bally. He has risen through the ranks at some speed since joining the company as VP of governmental sales in 2004 and quickly being promoted to VP of international sales in 2005. Connelly is perhaps the best salesperson in North America. As head of Bally Interactive, Connelly has pulled together a team through a series of inexpensive acquisitions and has already begun to sell its products to Bally’s clientele. He has a fierce passion for his company, which cannot fail to be persuasive. In Bally Mobile (formerly Macroview Labs) he has a real jewel in the crown, which could prove key to Bally’s fortunes in a regulated US market.
Matt Davey - CEO, NYX Gaming
NYX is a company heading in exciting directions. The NYX Open Gaming System is selling well, proving to be a truly open platform for suppliers such as LeoVegas, Bonnier Gaming and others. Meanwhile, group CEO Matt Davey is also overseeing the growth of NextGen Gaming. The latter has secured a deal to provide a social casino app to Nevada Gold & Casino, a land-based operator that has 11 casinos in the US. If Davey can build on that relationship in the same way the company has with four out of the five state lotteries in its home market of Sweden, then he’s sitting on a goldmine.
Gavin Isaacs - CEO, SHFL Entertainment
Gavin Isaacs has seen the future and adjusted his company’s strategy accordingly. The rebranding from Shuffle Master to SHFL Entertainment ushers the land-based supplier into the 21st century. Isaacs sees the online opportunity and is willing to invest in it. Although the Ongame purchase didn’t come off, Isaacs has bought a new base in Gibraltar, staffed it with 20 people and, more importantly, is building the company’s iGaming content delivery platform and online versions of its table games. Bally has already signed up to supply the games to their online customers. Isaacs has also signed a deal with Joingo, which will bring the titles to their land-based customers through a branded mobile app. Everyone who meets Isaacs has been hugely impressed with him and, what’s more, SHFL posted record revenues in its first post-Shuffle Master annual report.
Christian Rajter - CEO, Mobenga
Shimon Akad - VP Operations, Playtech
Christian Rajter is the co-founder and commercial driving force behind the phenomenal success of mobile software provider Mobenga. The Mobenga platform is home to some of the industry’s biggest brands including Paddy Power, SkyBet, Stan James and Unibet. In 2012, Rajter worked hand in hand with the VP of operations Shimon Akad at parent company Playtech to develop the company’s mobile hub. Mobenga led the development of the open platform, which will centralise all of an operator’s mobile functions and allow them to plug in any software and content via a simple API. Akad is ultimately responsible for the mobile product as part of his remit of company growth and innovation. Crucially for this project, he is also in charge of making sure that all new purchases, such as Mobenga and Geneity, work perfectly well together. He is sure to remain busy as Playtech’s acquisitive ways continue. Rajter’s business sense and Akad’s judgement will shape Playtech’s mobile strategy, which in turn will have an impact on the whole of the online gaming industry.
Warren Murphy - CEO, Sporting Index
Sporting Index has been going through something of a metamorphosis these past few years. It is building from a hyper-niche spread betting operator into something slightly more mainstream. Most of its growth, though, will come from its B2B arm Sporting Solutions, which has seen a heap of investment. CEO Warren Murphy is overseeing this transformation and will demand results over the following year as his company goes head to head with the likes of Unibet’s Kambi and others. With partners such as William Hill, 888Sport, Blue Square, Betfred and Skybet, he has a good foundation. Now it is time to power on.
Simon Ordish - CEO, LVS
For many small software companies it seems you are only as good as your acquirer. This made people really sit up and take notice when British sportsbook supplier LVS was acquired by former French monopoly Française de Jeux (FDJ). Since securing the deal, Ordish has gone on to sell its product to the Mauritius and Cote D’Ivoire governments and, most impressively, to the Israel Sports Betting Board (ISBB), the sole authorised sports betting provider in the country. As the sole authorised sports betting provider in Israel, ISBB operates a retail network of 1,600 points-of-sale and has contributed over ILS3.0bn (€590m) to Israeli sports over the past decade. ISBB’s online offering at Winner.co.il currently accounts for eight per cent of its income. This will set LVS up for more government deals.
Roger Raatgever - CEO, Microgaming
As hley Sandyford-Sykes - Head of Quickfire, Microgaming
Microgaming had an excellent year, with its poker product grabbing a handful of new clients following the disintegration of Entraction in the hands of IGT. The likes of iGame, Betsson and BetVictor transferred to the newly revamped Microgaming Poker Network, partly due to its canny decision to service markets such as Turkey, Norway and Israel, which other network suppliers would not touch. Alongside the poker progress, Ashley Sandford-Sykes has driven the remarkable growth of Quickfire, which has been taken up by over 50 new clients anxious to get their hands on quality content via a quick and easy integration. Quickfire has filled a real market need. Raatgever has overseen this huge improvement in the company’s product after a few years of losing out to competitor Playtech.
Tony Singer - CEO, High 5 Games
A decade ago, it was difficult for any casino game creator to have much of a presence in the industry. The large slot manufacturers made their own games in-house and were wary of using third-party contractors to build their games. Tony Singer convinced a few manufacturers to try a couple H5G games and changed the paradigm. The games performed much better than the industry standard, and IGT quickly selected High 5 Games to start a long-term partnership. H5G has created some of the most popular IGT casino games of the past few years, including Golden Goddess, Da Vinci Diamonds and Cats. In 2012, H5G had a breakout year. The company announced new agreements with IGT, Bally, and Playtech. It expanded its online presence in Europe throughout the year, and several of its games (Pixies of the Forest, Da Vinci Diamonds, Da Vinci Diamonds Dual Play, Noah’s Ark) have been named top-performers for IGT Interactive. Playtech will launch its first set of H5G games in 2013. Singer does not slow down and has launched the High 5 Games social casino.
The Gaming Intelligence Hot 50 of 2013
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