HomeIn-depthDaniela Sliva (Kianicová): „The Casino Guru Awards stand out due to their transparent process and unique value“

Daniela Sliva (Kianicová): „The Casino Guru Awards stand out due to their transparent process and unique value“

11 min. read
Daniela Silva, Casino Guru Insiders.

Casino Guru's PR and External Relations Lead, Daniela Sliva, needs no introduction. She is a key figure known for her strategic oversight of partnerships, management of diverse creative projects, and effective communication within and outside of Casino Guru.

In today's interview, Daniela sheds some light on the origins and the aim of the Casino Guru Awards. As a key figure behind the project, she shares insights into its conception and plans for its second year. She discusses the project's goals and its significance in the gambling industry.

What is the main objective of the Casino Guru Awards? What categories will be awarded this year? Can we anticipate the dynamic duo, Daniela and Šimon, taking the stage again? Let's find out!

Q: As the founder of the Casino Guru Awards, could you share the project's main concept and objectives?

The Casino Guru Awards project began approximately three and a half years ago when I joined the Casino Guru team. Even at that early stage, I held Casino Guru in high regard, and saw it as a reputable authority in the field. This perception sparked the idea of launching the Awards under our banner.

At that time, it was just that – an idea. We started with the execution of the Awards in the spring of last year as our experience grew, and our dedication to afair and distinctive approach to assessing casinos deepened.

This led to the belief that recognizing other industry entities and individuals who shared similar values and ethical practices was a worthwhile initiative. What distinguishes our Awards is the inclusion of categories that significantly differ from the usual awards within the industry.

Q: If I understand it correctly, the Awards, and specifically the categories, reflect Casino Guru's overall core values and objectives in the gambling industry.

That’s absolutely right. Our awards categories are carefully designed to mirror the areas where Casino Guru excels as an expert, such as terms and conditions and bonuses, which are focal points in our work. We wanted to ensure that we possessed the expertise to accurately evaluate both the nominees and the shortlisted applicants.

Our assessments go beyond taking companies at their word; we strive to verify that these companies genuinely deserve recognition. This commitment is further solidified by having experts in the relevant fields as part of the judging panel.

In addition to categories closely aligned with Casino Guru's expertise, we've introduced categories that pay tribute to companies in the industry that voluntarily exceed regulatory requirements, much like we do. A prime example is The Best Implementation of RG Tools category, which applies to both those who implement and develop these tools.

Regulators often mandate certain RG tools for improvement. However, when a casino goes above and beyond, adding value or investing in tools that aren't obligatory but enhance the player's experience, it merits recognition.

Q: Could you provide us with more details on the individual award categories or elaborate on certain specific points?

Certainly! There are quite a few. [laughter] For instance, take the category – The Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative. It's not limited to operators; anyone in the industry can be recognized. The focus here is on projects that prioritize social responsibility over profit, much like our Global Self-Exclusion Initiative and the Academy.

This year, we introduced a new category – The Most Ethical Approach to Marketing, an area where we rely on external experts for evaluation. Defining a "most ethical approach to marketing" was a challenge since it encompasses aspects from previous categories.

In essence, this category assesses how a casino promotes its bonuses to players, explains bonus terms, and targets its audience. It's about how the company presents itself externally, particularly concerning its specific target group. And I could go on and on and on…

Q: What criteria did you use to create these categories?

Our criteria for creating these award categories were rooted in thorough industry research and a desire for clarity and transparency. We began by examining existing awards within the industry, seeking inspiration while also identifying areas we found lacking or inspiring. I was often troubled by the vague criteria used to select winners. The term "best" was often left undefined, which led to a lack of structure and comprehensibility.

We aimed to depart from this ambiguity and introduce specificity not only to the award categories themselves, but also to the criteria and evaluation processes within each category. We wanted to clearly communicate what we evaluate, how we evaluate it, and why we choose particular winners. For a detailed breakdown of our categories and evaluation methods, I recommend visiting the Casino Guru Awards page.

Also, I want to emphasize that we've taken "a road less traveled" approach within the industry. We've introduced previously nonexistent categories, aligning with our commitment to safer and responsible gambling. Our focus isn't solely on casinos that don't engage in unfair practices, but also on those that go the extra mile to enhance the player experience and prioritize player safety.

Q: How are nominations submitted? Can companies nominate themselves or only others?

Nominations are open, and companies can submit them on our website. We do not distinguish whether the company applies itself or is nominated by someone else. After receiving a nomination, we contact the sender for any additional information if needed.

Q: What's the timeline for nominations and the different stages of the Awards?

This year, the awards span the entire year, culminating in an online stream event. Nominations began in May and will close at the end of October. The shortlist is finalized in at the end of November, along with the launch of the "Voice of the People" category voting. The final evaluation takes place in February 2024.

Q: How is the shortlist of applicants determined?

Our Casino Guru team initially reviews the applications and decides who will be shortlisted. In the next stage, we involve the entire jury. Our evaluation process is thorough and unique. We organize gathering in person with the jurors, allowing them to interact with the nominees during the calls, ask questions, and delve deeper into their nominations. It's not a passive assessment; it's interactive and informative for everyone involved. Typically, this process spans two days during which we evaluate the shortlisted nominations, based on which the judges then assign points. We are planning this meeting at the end of November.

Q: What feedback have you received regarding this detailed evaluation process?

Last year, the judges, and even the shortlisted nominees, appreciated the Award's transparent and professional approach. Having a relatively extensive timeline for the process was seen as an advantage. Unlike the previous year's more intense, ad-hoc process, this time, we've spaced things out, allowing ourselves to address each aspect gradually. After these meetings, jurors collaborate and have additional time to finalize their decisions and vote for the winners. Ultimately, the winners are determined by the votes received from the jury.

Q: What happens if nominees do not attend these online calls?

If nominees choose not to participate or are unable to attend these online meetings, it may disadvantage their chances. These meetings offer an extra opportunity for nominees to present and defend their work in detail. Jurors consider this proactive approach positively. These calls showcase what we aim to appreciate – initiative and the willingness to undergo a detailed evaluation, including potentially addressing challenging questions.

Q: Who comprises the jury, and how was it formed?

The jury is composed of individuals with expertise in the categories we've created. We approached specialists based on their work and experience, and fortunately, we've received positive responses from almost everyone we approached. The jury is diverse, including experts from Casino Guru and external specialists we've collaborated with. This year, we've also invited experts for the category introduced compared to last year. You can find more details on our website.

Q: Can someone from a nominated company also be on the jury? Isn't that a conflict of interest?

Yes, it's possible, but we ensure that they don't vote for their own company. While this might seem restrictive, it maintains the Award’s fairness and objectivity.

Q: Why is it essential to recognize and highlight these qualities in the industry?

Our primary focus is on recognizing aspects of gambling that often go unnoticed but have a significant impact on players, such as complaint resolution, which is a core part of Casino Guru's expertise. We believe it's crucial to emphasize these fundamental processes that serve players' interests.

Furthermore, we aim to set new industry standards by gradually promoting what we currently value as exceptional to become the norm. This enriches and enhances the entire industry.

Our efforts extend beyond awards; we're involved in multiple initiatives to create a safe gambling environment for players. Our goal is for the public to view gambling as a legitimate form of entertainment, shedding the stigma associated with it. We also want industry employees to be proud of their work, knowing they're operating in the most responsible way possible. Ultimately, we seek to foster a perception of gambling as a responsible and enjoyable entertainment option.

Q: How did you promote and build awareness for the Awards?

Our primary focus was on potential nominees. While we used press releases, our significant media presence came from social networks, especially LinkedIn. This was thanks to judges and previously shortlisted nominees who recognized our authority in the field and mentioned us. The project's credibility and representation were largely shaped by the people involved in the Awards.

Q: What changes can we expect this year compared to the first Casino Guru Awards?

We've already made improvements, particularly in the nomination process. Last year, it was open-ended, allowing nominees to provide any information they wished. However, this led to varying levels of detail, making comparisons and evaluations challenging. This year, we've introduced standardized forms for each category, containing specific questions to ensure a consistent basis for evaluation.

Q: Will the final evaluation be via live stream this year, and will you and Šimon host the event?

The entire awards ceremony will take place online, just like last year. This allows for improved connectivity between the nominees and judges from all over the globe. Šimon will continue to be the event's moderator. He's well-suited for this role, given his industry knowledge, personality, and professionalism. Personally, despite being extroverted, I am not the best public speaker. But I would be definitely the most nervous one. [laughter]

Q: Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes moment?

It's hard to pick a favorite moment, but the overall positive feedback, both during and after the event, stands out. The first year’s success, exceeding expectations and being appreciated by participants and colleagues, was incredibly heartwarming and fulfilling for me.

Q: What are your plans and visions for the Casino Guru Awards?

My wish is for the awards to be live and culminate in a gala evening. That's on my list of long-term work goals. While I can't reveal all our plans, I can say with confidence that we're committed to continuously improving what we do.

This interview is part of Casino Guru Insiders, a series of interviews during which experts from Casino Guru share their unique workflow, reveal insider information, and offer an exclusive overview of experience-packed know-how.

04 Oct 2023
11 min. read
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