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Ten influential women in iGaming

Disa Stigh

Estimated Time 12 min

January 27, 2021

The iGaming industry has traditionally been male-dominated, but female gamers are increasingly gaining more recognition now. As we all know, the gender divide is still prevalent in the iGaming industry. There are 35% of women occupying junior level jobs in the online and media industry; 25% of women occupy mid-level management positions, which is the same ratio in a senior-level job. But the big difference is at the highest senior level, where CEO’s work, there is just 13% of women in all of those roles.

Let us hope that this article encourages the next era of game makers, eSports players and gaming leaders to push for more ways to promote diversity. When diversity grows in the game industry, gaming can become significantly better for several reasons. Developers will have a wider variety of cultures, leading to more original personalities and stories in games. There will be more representation and the inclusion of women in eSports gradually.

As we enter 2021 and glance at who has demonstrated innovation, leadership and creativity within the iGaming industry, there are plenty. So here we honour women who not only have reached the highest peak in the iGaming industry but those who are heading the drive to prove that women have had a significant impact on the sector. Here is a list of the women (in no particular order) that have been the most influential in the iGaming industry.

Sara Slane

Founded the Slane Advisory

The removal of PASPA in 2018 would have never happened without Sarah Slane. Since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of the New Jersey State Constitution, the American Gaming Association (AGA) played a significant role in gathering support for sports betting in many states.

Slane also recognised as “the face/symbol of legalised sports betting” was the senior VP of public relations for the American Gaming Association.

Recently Slane has begun working as a consultant for numerous stakeholders interested in the rapidly evolving US sports gambling sector.

Anika Howard

VP of digital media and branding at Foxwoods

Anika has been one of the trailblazers of the iGaming industry of the US. She started out as an associate to President at Harrah, then jumped into the budding marketing world of the internet and launched a casino.

Howard was on the IGT’s Global Council on Diversity and Inclusion, where the Women’s Inclusion Network was introduced. She is also a member of the board of directors and co-chairman of the marketing committee for Global Gaming Women.

Maris Catania 

Head of Responsible Gaming and Research, Kindred

If there is any person who has initiated the responsible gambling push today, it is Maris Catania. By joining Unibet in 2010, Catania was able to bring about a fundamental change of the business model which emphasised harm minimisation on gambling.

She made plenty of attempts to change the industries’ views in this field and became a frequent speaker on the conference circuit, but in her early years, she did not often find welcoming audiences.

Susan Hensel

Director of licencing, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Many in the industry will answer Susan Hensel if asked to name the very first US state regulator. This is because she has been President of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) for two terms and her participation at industry activities and conferences.

Hensel is a keen advocate for gender equity in gaming and sits on the All-In Diversity Project’s advisory committee. She welcomes women to join the industry through her work at Widener University.

Lara Falzon

Operational CFO, NetEnt/CFO, Red Tiger

When NetEnt purchased the firm, Falzon headed the financial team to get its plan ready for and around the transaction.

Falzon was not a stranger to mergers and acquisitions. For someone who only joined the business in 2013, she’s been witness to far more than others, having been company CFO at Evoke Gaming when Mr Green purchased it then controller at King when it was sold to Activision Blizzard. She also states that she is influenced by other highly skilled working moms, such as Hillman.

Sarafina Wolde Gabriel

VP of business strategy, Income Access

Wolde Gabriel joined Income Access in 2004, a few months after completing her master’s degree.

Not only are Wolde Gabriel views pursued by the affiliate sector, but she has also often shaped industry practises through legislation. A notable face on the conference circuit, Wolde Gabriel says it is one of the things she misses most due to the outbreak of Covid19.

Cristina Romero de Alba

Partner, Loyra Abogados

She has a reputation as a lawyer who is prominent in the gaming industry and influential in the Latin and Spanish America’s legal and political systems. She is also known to have a great base of knowledge in areas of gaming and casino-related businesses.   

She has facilitated business transactions in numerous countries such as Brazil, Panama and Mexico. These deals have affected both operators and investors.

She sees her interest in banking, joined Loyra in 2011, as an asset.

Karin Thunholm – Casumo

Chief Marketing Officer, Casumo

Sweden has provided many of the famous iGaming websites to the world. Casumo has become a respected casino gaming brand with the likes of Mr Green, LeoVegas and Expekt.

Much of this achievement is because of the hard work of Karin Thunholm, their chief financial officer. It is her responsibility to make sure the brand is competitive in a market where everyone tries to attract clients. Big iGaming names offer British players all types of new promotions and bonuses, and Casumo does that. Karin had earlier joined forces with heavyweights in the industry, including Unibet, ComeOn and Dunder, and Thunholm is expected to help Casumo continue to boost its success since it was introduced in 2012.

Eva Karagianni-Goel

Chief Operating Officer, Colossus Bets

It has just been five years since Karagianni has shifted to the iGaming industry, but she has succeeded in achieving something that many others have not. She has taken full advantage of her relative novelty to the industry and was thus hailed for bringing a fresh outlook rather than being discarded given the lack of experience in the industry.

Karagianni-Goel also publishes regular posts discussing and provocatively exploring the industry’s ethics.

Stéphane Pallez

CEO, Française des Jeux (FDJ)

Taking over the French lottery and game operator, she has worked to improve gender equity and develop internal programmes to promote women and participate in external initiatives, including Women in Lottery Leadership by the Public Gaming Research Institute. Pallez has already taken significant strides to diversify FDJ’s business activities.

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