A few hours before the 2009 EGR Awards I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mark Blandford, founder of Sporting Bet, and Chairman of the EGR Awards judges. Over a cappuccino, Mark and I chatted about his role as Chairman of the judges, what the EGR Awards are all about, and why he has decided to step down as Chairman after three years of serving in this prestigious role.
RL: Can you tell me what it means to be Chairman of the judges? What is this role all about?
MB: Well, first of all, I was delighted to be asked by Pageant Media to be Chairman of the judges. They are big suppliers to the industry in terms of the conferences and organizing events for the industry, and their awards are probably the most prestigious in the sense that they are genuine and fair awards judged impartially by a range of people within the industry.
RL: How do you choose the judges for this event?
MB: The judges are chosen to give a range of skills within the industry and from professionals who advise the industry so we have accountants, lawyers, practitioners, people who work in usability, marketing consultants, as well as people like myself who are ex-industry operators.
RL: How many judges are on the panel tonight?
MB: There have been two rounds of judging, and there have been about 12 judges involved all together.
RL: How are the nominees chosen for this event tonight?
MB: It’s really up to the individual operators themselves to enter. eGaming Review publicizes the awards- they seek entries- so it’s up to the individual companies to enter themselves for the various categories that are offered.
RL: How many years have you been serving as Chairman of the judges?
MB: This is my third and final year. I’m stepping down after this in the sense that I believe there should always be fresh blood.
RL: How were you chosen as Chairman in the first place? How did you come into that position?
MB: (laughs) I think you’d have to ask eGaming Review. I don’t know.
RL: OK, so you mentioned to me earlier that eGaming Review has done a whole lot of organization for the event tonight and they are just doing a fantastic job. What have they had to do to get ready for this event tonight and who is responsible for all of this?
MB: There is a big team at Pageant Media who have done all of the work, and it really is a lot of work…its all of the administration, its organizing the judging, and this year, for the first time, we used an online judging system which they organized. Literally my job is to turn up to the individual events and to chair the judging panels, so they really make my life easy. If you look around tonight you’ll see hundreds of people who are here supporting the awards, and I think that’s a testament to how well regarded the eGaming Review Awards is within the industry.
RL: How do you help get the word out about this event? How do you get the word out to operators to put in their entries?
MB: Through the eGaming Review newsletter which is well known within the operating companies, and not only that, but at various industry events we do talk to operators and make sure they know there is a deadline coming up. We do solicit entries as best we can from the operators. Luckily, most of the major operators do enter- there is a very limited number that we don’t seem to get entries from.
RL: What are some of the categories that these awards are going to fall under tonight?
MB: There are a total of 16 categories and they include things such as the best Latin American operator, best bingo operator, best mobile operator, best sportsbook, and then of course probably the most prestigious would be the operator of the year.
RL: I’m really looking forward to the event tonight Mark, thank you so much!
MB: Thank you!