Canadian Gaming Summit Honours First Nation Members

The 2019 Canadian Gaming Summit is in the books after serving up three days of conferences and exhibitions in Edmonton. The entire summit was deemed a success. One of the most memorable parts of the three-day gaming industry extravaganza was the Canadian Gaming Industry Awards.

The Canadian Gaming Industry Awards provides an opportunity to recognise outstanding members of the community for exceptional leadership and contributions to the gambling industry. This year, four members of First Nations were subsequently recognised as leaders and role models.

Summit a Success

The 2019 Canadian Gaming Summit took place from June 18-20 at the Edmonton Convention Centre. Its theme was “Driving Change.”

The focus of this year’s summit was to provide educational content and high-profile speakers. It also does so while offering flexibility and time for delegates to network and mingle in the redesigned marketplace. Meanwhile, changes from previous years involved shifting to quality over quantity and presenting as many education sessions as possible.

As for the marketplace, the exhibit floor and reception space were combined. Therefore, delegates could eat and drink there, attend receptions, and network with others, while also taking in the exhibits and listening to speakers. Attendees welcomed and appreciated the interactive space.

Shawn Kanungo was the keynote speaker for the summit. He is a general partner at Queen & Rook Capital, but spent 12 years working at Deloitte helping corporate executives understand and incorporate disruptive innovation. His job at Queen & rook focusses on applying exponential technologies and new business models to aging businesses.

His speech to the delegates then talked about the intersection of creativity, business, and technology. During the speech, he touched on concepts of behavioural economics, user-centered design, crowdsourcing, artificial intelligence, drones, and film. All of which can help businesses step more comfortably into the future.

2019 Canadian Gaming Industry Awards

The Canadian Gaming Industry Awards celebrated 20 years in recognising achievement and contributions to the gaming industry. The Canadian Gaming Association sponsored this year’s ceremony.

Within the awards tradition, this year celebrated the 10th Annual First Nation Awards to honour First Nations members, casinos, and communities. The recipients of awards are members of First Nations gaming communities that go above and beyond with service and contributions. The purpose is also to recognise outstanding service by Aboriginal people employed by First Nations Casinos in Canada. Casino Rama and Miller Thompson LLP sponsored this year’s awards.

This year, all awards took place during the keynote sessions.

– Industry Leadership and Outstanding Contribution Award

This award went to John Dominelli, CEO and founder of NRT Technology.

Dominelli founded NRT in 1993 and became a leader in the industry of ticket redemption kiosks and jackpot attendant kiosks. The company grew and acquired other technology companies along the way, growing into the top kiosk provider in the world. NRT was also recognised as one of “Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies” for 11 years running.

NRT now employs hundreds of people, maintains five locations around the world, and serves more than 750 customers. Their venues include some of the world’s largest casinos.

– First Nation Canadian Gaming Community Service Award

Tracey Aginas works in the childcare industry, while also battling a rare illness and serving on the Northern Isga Foundation board. Despite her illness, she has never missed a monthly meeting since 2014. She continues to volunteer her time at meetings with regulators.

– First Nation Canadian Gaming Leadership Award

Lise Kwekkeboom began working at Casino Rama in 2004 and continues there today as Director of Marketing Services. She was described as enthusiastic, open-minded, effective, and customer-oriented, as well as focussed on new initiatives and cost-saving enhancements.

– First Nation Canadian Gaming Lifetime Achievement Award

John Blair Morin recived an honour for his decades of work in the gaming industry. He began working at The Palace Casino in Edmonton as a blackjack dealer in 1991. He then worked his way up through the industry. Morin now sits on the River Cree Resort & Casino Board of Directors.

He helped open the first First Nation Casino in Alberta and a dealer school. From 2005 to 2016, he also received a total of three Aboriginal Role Model awards. One award was for leadership, one was for economic development, and the other was for community involvement.

– First Nation Canadian Gaming Employee of the Year Award

Robert Commanda began working with Casino Rama in 2001 as a leading technician. He continues his work to train technicians and improve the quality of machines. In that work, he developed a tracking program to ensure regulatory compliance. However, his primary focus has always been on training workers thoroughly. Commanda received the award for his expertise and commitment to Casino Rama.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. As the online gaming sectors have changed and grown, particularly in the United States and Canada, she has followed it all and written about it for websites like World Poker Tour and PokerScout. In her free time, she runs a small business, reads, cooks, and enjoys music.


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