It’s not been the easiest of years for Amaya with all the headlines surrounding former CEO David Baazov, but under Rafi Ashkenazi’s (pictured below) charge the company continues to be operationally sound, and its expansion into new product verticals has been an astounding success. PokerStars stands unrivalled in the poker market, so the next challenge is to turn its sportsbook and online casino into a similar beast. Whether Amaya gets new owners or not, Ashkenazi will have his hands full whatever happens this year, and he seems to be thriving on the challenge.
Vigen Badalyan is the man who has grown his company from humble beginnings as a small betting shop in Armenia to the present day, as an innovative supplier with a global footprint. BetConstruct’s chairman will never forget his roots. He founded the company after large suppliers refused him access to technology. He vowed never to turn a client down and this egalitarian attitude has served the company well as it has expanded across the globe. Badalyan has a habit of fulfilling his ambitions. This year BetConstruct won a UK gambling licence. Its presence will be felt. Badalyan will make sure of it.
There are some smart people working behind the scenes at Sweden’s latest casino sensation Casino Room – not least former Nordic Gaming Group CEO Henrik Svensson, who knows a thing or three about how to operate a successful online casino. However, the Hot 50 vote goes to Johan Bergenudd. It’s on his watch that the operator has flown from zero to around €30m gross gaming revenues in just one year. That’s some going especially for a CEO in his first year in the hot seat.
How William Hill could do with Henry Birch in its management team. As Rank CEO he has steadily grown the business into an increasingly formidable competitor, properly leveraging its land-based brands to build up its iGaming business. He is not afraid to take risks, shown by the decision to drop OpenBet in favour of Bede Gaming as its new platform provider. He has a particularly intriguing opportunity on his hands, and should he develop a genuinely omni-channel offering for Rank his star will rise higher. It’s no surprise that the operator is now seen as capable of doing major M&A deals. William Hill may not have been the best fit but there will certainly be other targets.
Bede Gaming is doing things a little bit differently. By offering a fully operational tailored platform for clients, it is providing a high-end solution that should embed it closer to its clients than your average white label provider. The founding team has a lot of experience but Michael Brady is the company’s most visible face. Winning Rank as a client put Bede on the map and it is no doubt taking up a lot of its resources. Brady’s challenge is to follow that up with more deals of a similar standing. Those who know him expect Brady to triumph.
Sky Betting & Gaming has enjoyed another strong year and Andy Burton deserves more credit for this success. Proprietary technology underpins the CVC-owned offering, and 2016 saw investment increase markedly, with Sky Bet looking to double the headcount in its Sheffield office. In his seven years with the operator he has consistently embraced new technology and new development approaches, helping it scale for an ever-expanding customer base at a time when competitors rely on legacy platforms. The UK government’s talk of a ‘northern powerhouse’ has cooled in recent months but as a major employer in Leeds and with its growing Sheffield base, Burton is ensuring this is not just political hot air.
The live dealer specialist is facing increased competition from the likes of NetEnt, Playtech and Ezugi, but it is still the market leader and a key driver for convergence in the land-based casino sector. As group CEO, Martin Carlesund has a big task on his hands and he has massive shoes to fill in replacing co-founder Jens von Bahr, but Evolution’s growth story should continue unabated. Evolution’s revenue and profit keeps growing and it has only scratched the surface in taking casinos online. He may have only been with the company since June 2015, but Carlesund has a good team in place and Evolution’s bandwagon will surely keep on rolling.
Former Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Carter’s appointment as SBTech chief executive appeared to be a move to facilitate the company’s sale. These plans may still be bubbling beneath the surface but his first year in charge has seen him steadily grow the business, expanding its regulatory footprint by entering Portugal, Romania and Italy, as well as securing a Malta licence. It has even elbowed Kambi aside to become Spanish operator Luckia’s sportsbook platform provider. Carter’s first year in charge has been a good one. His second might transform SBTech into a true industry heavyweight.
Former EA and Zynga executive Barry Cottle is well-placed to lead Scientific Games’ interactive division. Interactive is something of a misnomer really; revenue for the subsidiary is generated almost entirely from free-to-play games. Cottle finds himself in a pretty enviable position; Scientific Games’ subsidiaries provide a wide range of content that can be repurposed for social, and it has an array of land-based clients to leverage deals with. Cottle’s creativity is such that we can expect more groundbreaking deals like the one SG struck with Gamesys and Hasbro. Revenues are soaring at SG Interactive, and with Cottle at the helm that looks set to continue.
Kindred/Unibet continues to march on. It has one of the tightest management teams and Rhodri Darch is a key member of that team. Darch is known for asking tough questions and he creates a framework for tough decisions to be taken. While it would be wrong to credit him entirely with Kindred’s decision to go it alone with poker and bingo, the chief strategy officer is an influential voice. The move has given Kindred a different face to the competition and it is slowly reaping the rewards.
Tony Evans has been around the industry for nearly 20 years and has been at Playtech long enough to be trusted with the role of lead champion for Playtech One, the business’s central omni-channel platform. As such, he is vital to the company’s strategy. Evans knows the company’s products inside out and is a key player in liaising between senior management, commercial teams and clients. He is equally adept at assisting with the rollout of existing technology or planning the next phase of emerging technology. With a research and innovation team of his very own, he will have a big influence on the future strategy of Playtech and, by extension, the gaming industry as a whole.
A Hot 50 winner for the third time, Itai Frieberger took over the hot seat at 888 in March 2016 after a spell as COO. He leads a company in rude health, despite a slightly misfiring M&A strategy which has seen the company miss out on acquiring bwin.party and fail with an opportunistic bid for William Hill. It could be a big year for 888 in 2017 though, with results continuing to impress and backed up finally with a competitive sportsbook product. This year will be Frieberger’s 14th with 888, and it could be his most important yet.
Andy Harris featured in 2015’s Hot 50 for his work as Realistic Games’ commercial director, and last year he moved seamlessly into the CEO role. His commercial nous helped establish the company and in the top job he has continued Realistic’s growth. What was once a Berkshire-based business now has an office in Gibraltar and a client list that features anybody who is anybody in the online gambling sector. It’s hard to see exactly where the business can go now; it has a strong portfolio of very popular games, a full roster of clients and an impressive team. But that’s part of the excitement; Harris came into Realistic with precious little B2B experience, but has turned the business into a rising star of the supplier space. He will keep it growing and expanding in 2017 and beyond.
Sarah Harrison received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list last year for services to consumer protection in her former role with energy regulator Ofgem. Now she needs to do the same for the UK gambling market, with the government undertaking a review of gambling machines and social responsibility measures to balance responsible growth in the industry with the protection of consumers and communities. The Gambling Commission will have a big say in how these measures eventually get implemented and this will be the biggest challenge for Harrison since she joined the UK regulator in October 2015.
It was a somewhat surprising move when British tabloid newspaper The Sun chose Tabcorp to power its new iGaming brand Sun Bets. What was less surprising however was Tabcorp hiring the vastly experienced former William Hill executive Jamie Hart to run the operation. There is a lot of pressure on Hart to deliver this year in what is now a massively congested market for sports betting in the UK. But Hart is passionate about gaming and if anyone can make it work, you would want him in your corner. He faces a real challenge to wrestle control from Australia and make this venture work. But if the Aussies are smart, they’ll hand Hart the keys to the kingdom and watch revenues fly.
Before it was partially acquired by Alibaba Group last year, Sun Ho helmed a big business with lots of potential. After it was acquired by Alibaba, AGTech became part of a huge business with stratospheric potential. AGTech and Alibaba will be a force in China’s massive lottery market, but Alipay, the payments division of Alibaba, will leverage AGTech’s lottery contacts around the world in a bid to make it the largest payments provider on the planet. Add in a government-approved poker business and Ho holds the keys to a very large kingdom indeed.
Cherry could once be dismissed as the company that was left behind after Betsson and NetEnt were spun off, but it is now emerging as an impressive iGaming business. Co-founder Anders Holgren deserves credit for this, with the company completing a wide array of investments and acquisitions, culminating in its €280m deal for ComeOn. The strategy of investing in companies rather than acquiring them outright has been particularly noteworthy, incentivising the business and its management. Now, Holgren has temporarily stepped into the CEO’s chair. A business which was stuck in the Scandinavian market suddenly finds itself in Germany, Poland and the UK, with plans to expand further afield.
Jim Humberstone has long been GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander’s trusted lieutenant. He was chief operating officer until the operator recruited Shay Segev and Jim Humberstone was transferred to a role in which he really excels. Humberstone took the GVC trading model and implemented it at newly-acquired bwin.party. Within a year, the business had been turned around. Margins have improved by about one per cent. He has been a huge influence on making a success of an acquisition that to some looked like a massive gamble. Alexander knew better. He knew he had Humberstone’s trading know-how, which is second to none.
The live casino market has been dominated by Evolution in recent times, but it is now a highly competitive niche product with suppliers fighting for their piece of the pie. Ezugi recently grabbed headlines by powering the first live dealer offering in the regulated US iGaming market. Golden Nugget built a sophisticated studio inside its Atlantic City casino to offer the product on the NYX-powered gaming platform. Under the leadership of Kfir Kugler, Sagi Ifrach is helping to make Ezugi a force in the industry and with a deal with the Bulgarian National Lottery also in the bag, he is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Tania Johannisson could be the very definition of the backstage hero. She started life as a dealer but has progressed throughout the organisation, and after working closely with Evolution’s COO, Johannisson was assigned to lead a project to build a tailor-made anti-fraud department from scratch. She has developed and has been managing the unit since 2011. It now comprises around 350 risk-related employees. The team monitors the activity of over 70 casino operators with up to 7,000 concurrent players and almost six million bets per day. She has introduced a series of new security procedures and tools, and is even listed as an inventor of patents filed for such fraud defence mechanisms as the Evo Shuffle Integrity (to fight card games’ advantage play) and Evo Wheel Integrity (a proactive and automated surveillance tool for monitoring a Roulette wheel’s performance and its entire operational life-cycle). Johannisson’s work is so appreciated by the company’s hierachy that it is now considered one of Evolution Gaming’s USPs.
There are some who look at 888’s product and don’t see anything very exciting. There are others that marvel at its CRM and continued growth and recognise that there is something special going on in the back end. Hila Klein is largely responsible for this special sauce. She helms 888’s 500-strong technology team. While the continued evolution of a market-leading CRM system has been key, Klein has also put renewed effort into the company’s in-house slots team. The result has been games like Jack’s Pot and The Big Lebowski, which have been among 888’s best performing. Klein is one of the industry’s highest-flying female execs and a real star.
Adele Lawton gained her well-deserved reputation as a bingo expert during long spells at JackpotJoy and Gala Coral but she has been unlucky with shorter stints in tricky roles at Betable and Betfred. But if B2B was not to her liking at Playtech, she gained a fan there in the shape of current GVC COO Shay Segev. He has recruited her to bring the glory days back to Foxy Bingo. The brand was once one of the biggest in the UK but like many of bwin.party’s once formidable brands, it has fallen down the rankings. Lawton will be determined to take it back to the top but this will be a true test of her mettle. GVC will give her the backing necessary. And those who know her will back her to succeed.
The sports betting sector has been awaiting ‘the next big thing’ to follow in-play betting, and with player proposition bets it may have found it. As CEO of the first company to develop a viable prop betting product, Ari Lewski finds himself at the crest of this new wave. Digital Sports Tech can help attract new sportsbook customers as well as increase existing customer spend, and the speed at which customers have signed up to launch the solution suggests operators agree. DST is already live in Australia, the UK, and plans to launch in Mexico and Russia. If Lewski can keep to the hectic launch schedule DST is going to be a hot acquisition target.
Daniel Lindberg’s vision – and that of his fellow founders Joachim Timmermans and Mats Westerlund – was razor sharp from day one. It was so convincing he appeared in the Hot 50 before a single game was launched back in 2012. Lindberg positioned the company beautifully and achieved a superb deal for himself, his co-founders and for the company’s acquirer Playtech, when the latter bought it for €50m in June 2016. Lindberg sent out a prospectus and managed to create a competitive tension that resulted in a multiple far outweighing the company’s €6m revenue. But Playtech got a great deal. It acquired the best Nordic supplier not called NetEnt, expanded its portfolio of games and if it means it retains bet365 for another five years the purchase price will be paid off several times over.
Ebba Ljungerud is not one of Kindred’s longest-serving executives but she has climbed the tree quickly since joining to manage Maria Bingo in 2010. When Mattias Stetz left to join Rush Street Gaming last year, she was appointed chief commercial officer. She now has about 600 people reporting to her and full commercial accountability for all of Kindred’s brands. She has the intelligence, charm and ambition to make light work of a potentially daunting task. With her new responsibilities, she is probably one of the most powerful women in the industry to boot.
Codere launched a new online betting and gaming platform in its home market of Spain at the end of last year and is already gaining significant market share from its competitors. Having gone online in Italy in 2010, it took a while to get going in Spain but it is finally making inroads. Felipe Ludeña has been a crucial part of this and remains key to the company’s continued expansion in the iGaming sector. As a predominantly land-based business, Codere has all the assets to ensure this happens, particularly in the untapped South American markets where it already has a significant presence and operates Codere.mx in Mexico.
Nick Maughan founded Cayetano Gaming, which was acquired by Paddy Power in 2011. He served his time, went away and founded Red Tiger Gaming in 2014. Maughan first turned his attention to Asia with a series of slots focussed on the Asian market. They were a rip-roaring success and Maughan made millions. Software proven, Maughan turned his attentions back to Europe and cut another deal with Paddy Power Betfair to provide the operator with a Macau tab populated entirely by Red Tiger games. That would have been enough to win Maughan a place in the Hot 50 but he followed that with the invention of tapered jackpots. It made Paddy Power Betfair fortunes at the summer’s Euro tournament and now everyone is trying to copy it. Maughan is a slots genius and Red Tiger Gaming is going supernova.
Andy McIver and his chairman Neil Goulden have undoubtedly been brought in as the safe pairs of hands needed to transform ‘the Frankenstein of bingo’ into a respectable London-listed 21st-century gambling company. McIver will have learned a great deal from his spell at post-UIGEA Sportingbet. It, too, was emerging from its Wild West period but it spluttered towards eventual breakup when William Hill and GVC teamed up to acquire what was left of it. McIver will rely on the crack teams of operators he has inherited while he uses his financial acumen to chart a course towards the UK market. With brands such as Jackpotjoy and Vera&John he has a great opportunity. Will he grab it?
Andreas Meinrad featured in the Hot 50 2016 for stepping into a hot seat with a huge job to do. As one of our judges put it, the company was basically dead. The turnaround he has managed to effect is phenomenal. While BetVictor remains a private company and accurate figures are hard to come by, the whispers are that profit will top €85m this year. From flatlining to anything near that will be an achievement to make the whole industry sit up and take notice.
SUSANNE MØRCH KOCH
Susanne Mørch Koch doesn’t start her new role as CEO of Denmark’s former monopoly operator Danske Spil until 1 April, and she will have a tough gig in replacing veteran Hans Madsen who has been in charge of the company for the past 12 years. But her experience at Danske Statsbaner, Denmark’s leading train operator and the largest in Scandinavia, should put her in good stead. Her job will be made easier by the smooth progress made by the operator which has thrived despite the opening up of Denmark’s regulated iGaming market. Danske Spil remains the biggest operator in the market, and will benefit further from a new Scientific Games-powered iGaming platform expected later this year.
Jim Mullen is a Hot 50 winner for the second consecutive year, this time as CEO of three of the UK’s leading betting and gaming brands; Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala. The merger took longer than expected to be completed, so the onus is now on him to make it work. His extensive experience in the iGaming industry, first developed at William Hill and subsequently honed at Ladbrokes, should make Ladbrokes Coral a dominant force in the industry, but it won’t be easy. Paddy Power Betfair remains a serious rival and William Hill will surely get stronger. The pressure will be on Mullen to succeed.
Yggdrasil has grown strongly despite limited resources, using outsourcing effectively to ensure it can develop innovative in-game features to support its highly-regarded products. Krzysztof Opalka’s promotion to chief product officer, having spent just under a year as head of front-end development and operations, means he will play a major part in continuing to push the business forward in 2017. Having worked as a game developer for social giant King he has experience of developing exactly the kind of playful and colourful content that has helped Yggdrasil grow to prominence. Revenue for the developer rose almost 300 per cent to SEK21.0m in Q3 2016, and can be expected to continue rising this year.
John O’Reilly cannot be described as a founder but he is certainly a pioneer. If his nomination owes something to his years of service, it is his current role that has put him in the spotlight. After decades at Ladbrokes and a shorter spell at Gala Coral, O’Reilly won a triple of sorts when he was appointed to the William Hill board in 2016. The consensus is that if CEO-less William Hill is going to turn around, then it will rely heavily on the experience of its newly-appointed director. William Hill needs a guiding hand from someone who has been in the trenches. O’Reilly is one of the industry’s most respected and well-liked professionals. Even his old colleagues at Ladbrokes might wish him well.
Dan Phillips is a veteran of Chartwell, Gala Coral and more, but he could be entering his most productive period as first chief of Playtech’s bingo division, and now as VP of Playtech’s rapidly growing UK operations. This encompasses not only Playtech’s three London offices but another five offices across the country. In total this covers more than 500 employees and product areas, including all of Playtech’s bingo operations, casino retail, games content, virtual sports, open platform and casual gaming. All this and he has managed the launch of the company’s Sun Bingo project – one of the division’s biggest yet.
If his boss Nick Maughan (another Hot 50 winner) is the creative genius behind the arrival of some of the industry’s most innovative and best-performing slots, then Giles Potter is the commercial brains cutting deals aplenty. Not content with supplying half of Asia with its slots and signing an exclusive deal to provide Betfair with its Macau casino tab, Potter has followed that with deals to provide Betsson, SlotsMillion and Videoslots with its impressive content. Potter’s experience before joining Red Tiger was mainly in marketing. He has taken to his new role with aplomb.
Bet-on-lotteries pioneer Lottoland has been making big waves by actively disrupting a multi-billion-dollar industry. While it is struggling to gain market share in the Camelot-dominated UK lottery market, its success in Germany and Australia has been simply outstanding. A lot of Lottoland’s operational success is down to Matt Robinson, who has driven the company’s incredible growth in the past two years. In 2016, revenue reached €300m, compared to zero just four years ago. His experiences at 888, bwin.party and Betfair have been fortified at Lottoland, which will soon expand its offering to allow the resale of official lottery tickets online. Expect Robinson to drive it on in 2017.
Gil Rotem is simply one of the best brains in the business. This is his second appearance in the Hot 50 and he has forged a mighty partnership with 2016 Hot 50 winner Chab Bogstrand to keep bet365’s gaming operation one step ahead of most of the competition. Rotem’s expertise is held in awe by colleagues and collaborators but he remains approachable, friendly and ever-helpful. There are a few superstars at bet365 and Rotem is one of the brightest.
A representative from Playtech’s sports division has been granted a place in the Hot 50 almost every year. The theory was that each individual would be given the wherewithal to challenge the established providers – none has really set the world alight. That was then, this is now. In July last year, Playtech acquired Armin Sageder’s Best Gaming Technology for €138m. BGT will provide the foundation of a bricks-to-click strategy that will combine the strength of BGT’s sports betting software for self-service systems with Playtech’s ONE omnichannel platform. Sageder is universally expected to succeed.
Kevin Sheehan faces a tricky task in replacing Gavin Isaacs as Scientific Games CEO, but at least the focus of the business has shifted to reducing its debt rather than completing more M&A. He has already proved he can handle a large listed business, having grown Norwegian Cruise Line and led the business through the global recession. He’s a safe pair of hands. His new role is particularly important after Isaacs’ frequent cries that SG’s hefty debt undermined analysts’ valuations of the company. The market conditions are far easier than those he faced when beginning his previous role, so he may quickly become renowned as more than just Isaacs’ replacement.
The slow progress of state-by-state iGaming regulation in the US has forced land-based operators looking to move online to shift their focus, with free-to-play gaming now a priority. Despite his real-money background, Chris Sheffield has fully embraced this challenge at Penn National, developing a formidable portfolio. Supply deals with Scientific Games and OpenWager allowed Penn to get a feel for the sector, before its $60m acquisition of Viva Slots Vegas developer Rocket Gaming and investment in fantasy sports operator iPro saw it fully commit. For someone who was dubious about the long-term appeal of social while at Betfred, Sheffield is clearly now a convert.
Stride Gaming is a company that is going places and Darren Sims is one of the chief reasons. While the company has acquired 105 brands and a 10 per cent share of the UK bingo market, it has also made significant, er, strides into the US social gaming space. And Sims has made sure that all those brands are working optimally. The figures are good, with net gaming revenue up 22 per cent to nearly £48m at the end of the last financial year. While Sims has a tough job integrating all those acquisitions, Stride is planning more. Sims will no doubt take it in his, er, stride.
Alexander Stevendahl is another young CEO in just his second year as CEO. The former poker affiliate has created quite a site with Videoslots. Shooting up from zero to €3m gross gaming revenue in its first 18 months of operation could be attributed to Stevendahl’s marketing skills and the continued appeal of NetEnt’s games but the operator is also doing things a little differently. In late 2015, Videoslots unveiled its tournament feature: Battle of Slots. Others have tried to copy it, but our judges said Videoslots does it best.
Betclic Everest veteran Warren Steven was tempted to swap Europe for the US by his old boss Thomas Winter, and this partnership is achieving huge success. Golden Nugget took longer than its competitors to go live in New Jersey – something that many thought would leave it lagging behind. Instead it is closing in on the state market leader Borgata. Steven’s work as product director and his European experience is helping Golden Nugget become the first to launch virtual sports and live dealer gaming in the state. He could yet help it take top spot.
LeoVegas has been one of the revelations of the online casino industry in the past few years, and underwent a successful IPO during 2016. Its focus on mobile has been made possible through its investment in its platform, and this is where John Strömberg comes in. He has served as group CTO for the past three years and is also CEO of Gears of Leo, the technology development arm of the LeoVegas group. He has a wealth of technical experience from his time at Bonnier Group, HiQ and Rebtel, but in LeoVegas he has found a team that has backed and supported his technical expertise.
DAVID VON ROSEN-VON HOEWEL
Lottoland’s impact on the online gambling world has been phenomenal. And it’s all down to the vision of this man. David von Rosen-von Hoewel (picured below) has sat in the background while his chief executive Nigel Birrell has delivered that vision to the world. If the concept of betting on lotteries was not entirely new, Lottoland’s execution took it to new heights. The operator generated revenue of €300m last year and now it is looking to take the next step as a fully-fledged lottery operator. It’s a big step but don’t bet against the man with the big name.
Owain Walbyoff runs Endemol’s gambling-focused games studio. He is busy creating an infrastructure that could make Endemol one of the industry’s most important names. Of course, the company is already known for licensing brands such as its Deal or no Deal slot but Walbyoff’s vision is far greater. He wants to create a safe and secure environment for big brands to enter the regulated gambling space. As such he is in talks with a whole host of household names and is investing in an RGS to enable Endemol to build a distribution business. Watch this space.
Since its launch in 2006 Amelco has quietly built up a roster of high-profile clients including the likes of PokerStars, William Hill, mybet and Intralot. The company is Damian Walton’s brainchild, and he retains full control of the business, which makes him a potential industry power-broker should he decide to sell the business. But why would he want to? Amelco has grown to the point it could conceivably usurp its larger competitors as a leading sportsbook provider. OpenBet is going through a period of change, and Playtech is still building its solution, so the established industry players may find themselves overtaken by upstarts such as Amelco. Watch this space.
This is a first Hot 50 award for Lorne Weil following his return to the limelight as CEO of Hydra, the special-purpose acquisition company that made virtual sports and gaming supplier Inspired its first purchase in 2016. He has bags of experience, having taken charge of Scientific Games from 1992 to 2008, then again from 2010 to 2013. Inspired hope this experience will take the company to the next level, which means into the lucrative US market. Weil has the contacts and knowledge to make it work. Inspired continues to grow its virtual sports business across Europe, in particular in the UK and Italy, but Stateside is where the real big bucks will be. Weil is banking on it.
In Q3 Kindred’s poker revenue doubled to £3.2m. This effectively vindicates the company’s decision to leave Microgaming’s MPN in favour of a stand-alone product developed by Relax Gaming in 2013. Andrew West has been working for the offering since before it launched in 2015, and has overseen a product that has seen revenue climb more than 30 per cent for two consecutive years, at a time when wider online poker industry income has dropped around 20 per cent. The launch of its Kindred Poker 2.0 client in December 2016 will provide a litmus test. If its casual model can continue to attract players at a time when other operators are moving towards the recreational model, it looks set to become a significant player in the market.
Winter was overlooked for the Betclic Everest CEO role when Nicolas Beraud stepped down in 2011. Judging by his success leading Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s online efforts the operator lost a major asset. His decision to delay the brand’s launch in New Jersey’s regulated iGaming market, then scrap its platform deal with Bally in favour of NYX, may have suggested teething problems. Instead they were strategic moves that have helped the offering establish itself as a major player in the state. Owned by Landry’s and with properties in a number of states, it is well-placed for further growth when new states regulate. Winter will be at the forefront of these efforts if he is not lured away to a larger role.