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International Gaming Awards dominated by event sponsors

Sat, Feb 25, 8:42am by Staff Writer

As a procession of winners took the stage at the 10th annual International Gaming Awards (IGA) early in February, most casual observers saw nothing amiss.

That evening in London saw 19 members of the gaming industry, both brick and mortar and online, honoured for their contributions over the prior year. With respected and reputable worldwide companies like PokerStars, Playtech, and Microgaming in attendance – and taking home awards – the chances for scandal appeared to be slim.

But due to the astute observation of Las Vegas-based iGaming reporter John Mehaffrey, the industry has reason to believe that this year’s IGA festivities may not have been entirely legitimate.

Writing for OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos, Mehaffrey penned a takedown of the IGA titled “Sponsors Win Majority of Prizes at International Gaming Awards.”

Within the article, Mehaffrey presents a convincing case against the IGA – which is organised by promotional publishing firm Clever Duck Media – for allegedly rigging the process to ensure sponsors win awards.

As Mehaffrey documents in his piece, this year’s IGA presented 26 individual awards, with 14 of those received by companies listed as sponsors of the show.

That sponsor victory rate of just over 50 percent is far from a smoking gun, of course, but Mehaffrey dives deeper to show clear links between sponsorship and the overall odds of winning.

As he shows, a total of 19 companies are shown as sponsors of some sort on the IGA’s website. And of that amount, 12 were named as winners by night’s end – raising the sponsor victory rate to 63 percent.

The article also highlights a more damning link between certain levels of sponsorship and eventually winning an award.

First and foremost, the Malta-based online casino and sports betting platform Mr. Green was listed as the IGA’s “Official Sponsor.” Unsurprisingly, Mr. Green was the recipient of the IGA’s most prestigious award: Online Gaming Operator of the Year.

Furthermore, of the eight companies listed as “Gold Sponsors” – a distinction that remains unclear based on IGA’s lack of disclosure regarding sponsorship terms – no less than seven made their way to the winner’s circle.

That increases the sponsor victory rate to 87.5 percent, and considerably strengthens Mehaffrey’s case against the IGA in the process.

According to Mehaffrey, repeated attempts to discuss these alarming numbers were rebuffed by IGA organizers, both through email and Twitter.

The lack of transparency and disreputable tactics come as no surprise to members of the iGaming industry who are familiar with Clever Duck Media’s collection of brands.

In 2012 the iGaming Post – a Clever Duck Media property – was caught plagiarizing poker journalism from media outlet PokerFuse. Mehaffrey himself wrote takedowns of the iGaming Post, in which he listed several egregious examples of word-for-word plagiarism from sources like the Associated Press and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Another observation made by Mehaffrey concerns the sponsors who won, as none of the company press releases issued to celebrate IGA wins disclosed their sponsorship arrangement.

A full list of sponsors that won awards at this year’s IGA show, broken down by sponsorship level, can be found below:

Official Sponsor – (Award)

Mr. Green – (Online Gaming Operator of the Year)

Gold Sponsors – (Award)

BetConstruct – (iGaming Software Supplier)

Microgaming – (Mobile Product of the Year)

PlayNGo – (Slot Provider / Supplier Product)

Playtech – (Technology Provider/Supplier)

SafeCharge – (Security Innovation Award)

Yggdrasil Gaming – (Innovator)

PokerStars / Amaya – (Socially Responsible Online Operator)

Silver Sponsors – (Award)

Galaxy Entertainment Group – (Casino / Integrated Resort of the Year)

International Game Technology (IGT) – (Casino Equipment Supplier)

The Ritz Club – (Casino VIP Room of the Year)

VideoSlots – (Slots Operator)

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