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The seventh iGaming IDOL Awards were one for the books — a total of 19 individual awards and nine company awards were handed out last Thursday (30 November) at the InterContinental Arena in Malta.

Since its inception in 2018, these awards have been affectionately dubbed the “iGaming Oscars”.

However, in 2023, the event reached a new milestone, boasting nearly 500 attendees and the highest number of trophy winners to date.

Pierre Lindh, managing director of NEXT.io, emphasised that making the shortlist in any given category, from more than 2,300 nominations, is an achievement in itself.

“We also want to give recognition to the approximately 100 finalists. Your journey to this moment has been absolutely inspiring,” Lindh said on stage.

“We are also the only award show in the industry that has been fully audited since its inception, with the audit firm BDO ensuring transparency and trust in every step we take. They ensure that we crown the rightful winners without any interference,” he added. 

NEXT.io duo Conor Mulheir and Ross Stafford hosted the gala awards, infusing the evening with humour while crowning the industry’s top talents.

2023 Idols

It was a night of multiple triumphs, without clear dominance displayed by any particular company.

Chrisos Zoulianitis from Playson claimed the Account Manager Idol of the Year title, while Olena Reginia of MioMedia was recognised as the Affiliate Manager Idol. 

James Ford of LeoVegas Group triumphed as Casino Product Idol of the Year, while Julia Simonsson from Evolution earned the Compliance and Regulated Markets Idol of the Year accolade.

Additionally, the evening celebrated talents such as Tippi Holland of Aspire Global, honoured as the Customer Service Idol of the Year, and Simon Anneberg Merrild Hansen from Mindway AI, acclaimed as the Developer Idol of the Year. 

Karl Paul Baldacchino of HappyHour shone as the Design Idol, while Luke Sammut of Booming Games received the Finance Manager Idol distinction.

Andrejs Cuzan from Eyas Gaming received the Fraud and Risk Idol award, and Stefania Zammit Cesare from GiG was lauded as the HR Business Partner Idol. 

Alexander Korsager of Casino.org was celebrated as the Manager Idol, while Janine Copperstone from PearFiction Studios seized the Marketing Manager Idol title.

Further, Rebeka Mizzi from iGaming Academy, Vildan Akdogan from GiG, and Ahti Lepanurm from Sportsbet.io were acknowledged as the Sales Idol, SEO Idol, and Sports Betting Product Idol, respectively.

Moreover, the awards also honoured Giuseppe Scollo from LeoVegas Group, recognised as the VIP Idol, and Julia Weygandt from Tornado Games, celebrated as the Young Leader. 

Martin Lycka from Entain received the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry award for his impact and dedication.

Special categories 

While iGaming IDOL’s primary focus has always been on individual talent, some company awards have also been presented.

Flutter Entertainment was honoured as the Social Responsibility Idol, while Bettor Capital received recognition as the Investor of the Year. 

Evolution emerged victorious as the Game Studio of the Year, and PearFiction Studios’ creation was celebrated as the Game of the Year, while Bojoko earned the coveted Affiliate Idol title. 

SOFTSWISS triumphed as the 2023 Brand Idol, while Betsson Group won two titles: Casino Operator Idol and Sportsbook Operator Idol. 

Ross Parkhill of Rhino Entertainment was crowned CEO Idol, while the company also secured the Employer of the Year accolade. 

Lastly, David Flynn, who earlier this year raised funds for several mental health charities, was added to the Hall of Fame.

NEXT’50

However, the excitement didn’t end there. 

Thursday night marked the unveiling of NEXT’50—recognising the top 50 most forward-thinking, sustainable, and impactful organisations propelling the iGaming industry towards a brighter future. 

Evolution emerged victorious, claiming the top position.

Betsson secured the runner-up spot, followed by Yolo Group in third place, Fast Track in fourth, and Pragmatic Play in fifth, rounding off a night of triumph and celebration in the iGaming realm.

Giving back

But the event wasn’t solely about honouring talent; it was also dedicated to supporting a noble cause.

With the partnership of White Label Casinos and Phil Pearson, 5% of the table sales’ proceeds were committed to MSPCA—Malta’s Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.

Furthermore, a specifically arranged charity raffle successfully gathered more than €10,000, contributing to the ambitious €100,000 goal to aid abandoned and neglected animals in Malta.

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