DAVID BAAZOV – CEO Amaya
David Baazov is perhaps the most obvious name on this list, given the fact he was the driving force behind Amaya’s astonishing $4.9bn acquisition of Rational Group. The Canadian executive is astonishingly ambitious but, crucially, he has the ability to convince others to back him even when his ambitions look far-fetched. His deal-doing prowess is now legendary. We will now see whether he can operate an established business with as much aplomb.
DENISE COATES – CEO bet365
What more can be said about this industry legend? The figures speak for themselves. Profit for bet365’s 2013-14 financial year was up 49 per cent to £174.9m. Turnover for betting and gaming has grown to £1.28bn. Amounts wagered have leapt up 37 per cent to £26.47bn. Denise Coates has turned bet365 from a small retail bookmaker into an online gaming giant. What’s more, she has shown a commitment to the company’s local community and a social commitment to the wider world (via the foundation of the £100m bet365 charity) that provides a model for an industry in political peril.
BREON CORCORAN - CEO Betfair
While peers such as Richard Glynn at Ladbrokes and Norbert Teufelberger at bwin.party have struggled, Breon Corcoran has calmly and effectively turned around the exchange betting giant Betfair. For the first time in its history, Betfair feels as if it is becoming a genuinely multi-product operator and not one entirely reliant on the exchange, with gaming performing well in its most recent results. Corcoran shows the value of good husbandry coupled with a desire to encourage modest-but-effective innovation. He has taken on the founders’ vision, ironed out the wrinkles and made Betfair a thriving business.
MITCH GARBER – CEO Caesars Interactive
You cannot argue with Mitch Garber’s achievements. He has built Caesars Interactive from scratch. Quickly realising that there was no legal interactive market in the US, he bought a number of social gaming businesses and turned them into the world’s biggest. His interactive business brings in more revenues than the likes of 888, Paddy Power or even Playtech. Garber’s take-no-prisoners approach seems to fit like a glove at Caesars, where he was recently elevated to the board of the company proper as vice chairman. He is a likely successor to Gary Loveman.
GAVIN ISAACS – CEO Scientific Games
Gavin Isaacs is one of the most exuberant people working in the gambling industry. He’s possibly one of the most exuberant people working in any industry. He is charismatic, charming and almost universally popular. After successful stints at Bally Technologies and SHFL, he is tasked with bringing those companies together under Scientific Games. It could be a tricky integration, but Isaacs’ infectious enthusiasm ensures people follow where he leads. That makes integration much easier. Companies the size of SciGames can be somewhat dysfunctional. Not on Isaacs’ watch.
MOR WEIZER – CEO Playtech
The remarkable success of Playtech is very much a team effort, but Mor Weizer has been a fantastic figurehead. He is smart, quick-witted and authoritative. Weizer will never sell his company short and his patter is convincing. You want to believe in him and his track record demands nothing less. He is also sitting on the biggest war chest in the business. After turning around the fortunes of William Hill, Gala Coral and Ladbrokes, many expect him to take on his toughest challenge yet. If Playtech does acquire bwin.party, you can expect it to make a success of that, too.
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