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Gambling Insider Awards under fire for lack of diversity in judging panel that involves only one woman and no black people

One of the gambling sector’s awards events has come under fire after it emerged that the judging panel of 52 people contains one woman and no black people.

The Global Gaming Awards, convened by industry publication Gambling Insider, honours the top companies and executives for their achievements during the year. The awards for 2020 will be judged by a 52-strong panel that “represents a dynamic cross-section of the global gaming industry”, according to a published shortlist of nominees.

Judges include the chief executives of London-listed 888 Holdings and Playtech, the chief operating officer of UK gambling firm Betfred, the boss of London’s Hippodrome Casino, and an executive from Google. Senior figures from big gambling firms such as Sweden’s Betsson and LeoVegas are also on the panel.

Women in the industry voiced their dismay via the professional social network LinkedIn, after realising that the list of bosses includes just one woman and no black people.

The not-for-profit organisation All-In Diversity Project posted: “The women reading this will know what’s wrong with these pictures. And yes, it’s from 2021.”

“Sad to see this, when there are so many talented and exceptional women in this industry,” said one female employee of the slot machine company Slotsmillion.

Gary Roudette, chief executive of Gambling Insider publisher Players Publishing, said, “We acknowledge how this looks,” but blamed the imbalance on the need for judges to be senior executives, to ensure “sufficient authority”.

He said: “The sad fact is there are not many women CEOs in the gaming industry’s leading companies”, adding that some who were asked to join the panel had declined.

Gambling Insider is now considering whether to open the panel to include less senior people to broaden representation, he said.

One woman who spoke to the Guardian said the judging panel already included men below boardroom level, including one who is described as a “payment consultant”.

Karolina Pelc, the founder and chief executive of SharedPlay.io, dismissed Gambling Insider’s defence via a LinkedIn post.

“There aren’t enough women CEOs in the industry and I appreciate you might not be able to secure the commitment of the few but there are many in senior leadership positions, with fantastic expertise warranting ‘authority’ to judge,” she said.

“We want more woman CEOs but where we don’t promote the ones that we have or the ones that might become them one day, including inclusion in these types of judging panels, the wheels of change won’t be put in motion.”

The controversy has reignited lingering concerns about sexism in the industry that arose in 2018, when the Guardian exposed allegations of sexual harassment at the annual ICE event in London, when scantily clad women and pole dancers were employed to entertain a largely male audience.

Abby Rachel Cosgrave, founder of gambling industry firm SafeComply, said: “One would expect anyone involved in this to step back until it is fixed.”The Guardian has approached 888, Playtech, Hippodrome Casino, Betfred, Betsson and LeoVegas for comment on their executives’ participation. Only Hippodrome boss, Simon Thomas, responded, saying this year’s judging process was finished but that he had asked Gambling Insider to reconsider the makeup of next year’s judging panel.

While criticism from within the industry has largely focused on the lack of gender diversity, the judging panel also features no black people and very few who are non-white.Roudette said he was not aware of any industry comments about the lack of black panel members, but said that “as a black CEO with four daughters, […] I take diversity very seriously indeed”.


Source: The Guardian