The latest round of EGR industry awards have just been handed out and showing third time’s the charm for Poker Operator of the Year 2016 was PokerStars. Of course, first and second time were also the charm, as this is the online company’s third takedown of this category.
Despite a turbulent year behind the scenes with ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov and his various versions of private equity bids to take over the company, PokerStars has retained its position as the leading player in the poker sector. Thanks to successful media campaigns featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, the gaming giant has continued to reach broader audiences this year.
While EGR’s panel was quick to award the operator with another accolade, some may question how valuable some of the site’s recent additions have been for established players. That’s because in 2016, PokerStars has been marked by the expansion of its casino and sports betting options, as well as the release of high-octane games such as Beat the Clock.
For some players, these innovations have been at the expense of those who have been active online poker customers for years. While PokerStars might argue to the contrary, there has been a clear move towards casual players over the last 12 months.
But looking at the bigger picture, this approach is what the industry needs to thrive and that’s one of the main reasons PokerStars has scooped another award. A few disgruntled regs might disagree, but online poker needs fresh blood and the best way to do this is by offering entertainment-based games to novices.
For this, PokerStars has certainly been a leader this year and, at least from the EGR panel’s viewpoint, deserving of an award.
In addition to landing Poker Operator of the Year for the third time in a row, PokerStars and Amaya were shortlisted in a total of five categories, including:
Poker Operator of the Year: PokerStars
Operator of the Year: Amaya
Socially Responsible Operator of the Year: Amaya
Customer Service Operator of the Year: Amaya
Casino Operator of the Year: PokerStars Casino
Industry Leaders Out to Celebrate
Elsewhere at this year’s EGR Operator Awards ceremony, Unibet picked up a trophy for its marketing campaigns, while Paddy Power Betfair and bet365 won the Casino and Sports Betting Operator of the Year awards.
All nominees for an EGR award are shortlisted before being invited to present their case to a judging panel. Each representative has five minutes to outline why their company should win their category before they’re then asked a series of follow-up questions. Think the Oscars meets Miss America.
Once the presentations are finished, the EGR panel casts its votes before compiling a list of winners. Shortlisted operators and winners are then invited to attend a special awards ceremony in London. This year, the festivities took place inside The Artillery Garden at the Honorable Artillery Company (HAC) and featured some of the leading operators in the industry.