The American Gaming Association (AGA) has announced the names of four casino industry veterans who will be inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame as a part of the Class of 2017.
The Class of 2017 will be inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame on Oct. 4. There will be a ceremony during the annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 2017 inductees include:
- Former Circus Circus Las Vegas and Paragon Gaming executive Diana Bennett
- Shuffle Master inventor John Breeding
- Branded slots pioneer Joe Kaminkow
- Las Vegas business leader and former Mirage and MGM board member Melvin B. Wolzinger.
The Gaming Hall of Fame Class of 2017
“The Class of 2017 was instrumental in shaping the casino-gaming industry,” AGA president and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a press release. “From revolutionizing the way games are seen and experienced, to reshaping employee operations and business development, these leaders’ achievements extend throughout the nation, and even the world.”
The AGA created the Gaming Hall of Fame in 1989. This year, more than one hundred candidates earned nominations. Seven industry stakeholders comprise the selection committee. The panel is as follows:
- Bo Bernhard, executive director at the International Gaming Institute at University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Phyllis Gilland, senior vice president and general counsel of American Casino & Entertainment Properties
- Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business
- Ryan Growney, general manager at South Point Hotel and Casino
- Gavin Isaacs, vice chairman of the board at Scientific Games
- Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International
- Victor Rocha, owner and editor of Pechanga.net
Bennett joins her father and fellow former Circus Circus Las Vegas executive William Bennett as a Gaming Hall of Fame inductee.
According to the AGA, Bennett led the development of landmark Las Vegas properties including Luxor Las Vegas and Excalibur Hotel and Casino. Additionally, she was president of gaming manufacturer Casino Data Systems.
Bennett helped spearhead the development of the River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta as well as the revitalization of the Riviera Hotel Las Vegas after joining Paragon Gaming. Additionally, Bennett helped grow the Westgate Las Vegas and the Hooters Casino-Hotel in Las Vegas. She also acquired the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe, and assisted in the development of the new Parq Vancouver casino, set to open at the end of September.
Moreover Bennett is also widely recognized for her philanthropic work as president of the Bennett Family Foundation.
Breeding was a long-haul truck driver when he invented the Shuffle Master automatic shuffle machine. He went on to invent various electronic table games, slot machines, internet games, and table games, including Let It Ride. Scientific Games eventually purchased his Shuffle Master company.
The industry recognizes Kaminkow as a pioneer of pop culture in gaming. In fact, he designed numerous IGT slots licensing brands from movies, TV shows, quiz shows, and celebrities. His most successful game slots include:
- Wheel of Fortune
- Sex and the City
- Game of Thrones
- Britney Spears
Kaminkow is currently chief game designer and senior vice president of casino games for social and mobile game developer Zynga.
Melvin B. Wolzinger
Wolzinger is an Air Force retiree who turned a slot route into a career in the Las Vegas gambling industry. One of the original investors in Golden Nugget Las Vegas, he also served on the Board of Directors of Mirage Resorts for almost 30 years. There, he helped develop Las Vegas Strip properties including Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio.
Wolzinger then joined the MGM Resorts Board of Directors when MGM Resorts acquired Mirage Resorts in 2000. In fact, he served on the Board through 2012 before becoming director emeritus of MGM Resorts. He is also a supporter of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Around campus he is known for his nonprofit work for education, athletics, and the Jewish community.