One of Lipton's larger roles has been his work with the Canadian Gaming Association.Having attended the association's inaugural meeting at Casino Niagara, Lipton said he is proud to have played a role in its maturation in the years since, adding, "I have always been very passionate and committed to industry. I've always sought to foster growth of association because I truly believe it plays a significant role in development of the industry."
Called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1967, and awarded a Queen's Counsel in 1979, Lipton has plied his talents in a multitude of roles including founding member and (past) president of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), current member of the American Bar Association and the Bar of New York State, editor of the Canadian Gaming Lawyer magazine, and author of numerous papers on gaming law which have been published globally. In addition, Lipton was awarded the Medal of Service by the City of Toronto and the Commemorative Medal for the 125 Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada for his community service.
"Michael has been in the industry since the beginning of the industry. He is very deserving of this award." noted Bill Rutsey, president of CGA. "He has always been a very focused individual, and that is absolutely necessary in this industry. Thanks to Michael's commitment, many of his opinions are becoming standard practice."
Truly, for those that know Lipton, his award comes as no surprise. According to Robert Stocker, chair of the Gaming Practice Group of Dickinson Wright, past president of the IMGL, and current chair of gaming law committee of the American Bar Association, "Michael Lipton is an extra-ordinary lawyer. He has immense experience in gaming law and is very well respected in the gaming industry by lawyers, suppliers and operators. He's also a great ambassador for doing business Canada, and he's successful in doing so because he is highly respected by his peers, those within the gaming industry, and by the various provincial lottery authorities.On top of everything else, he's a genuinely good guy and pleasure to be a partner with.”
Reflecting on his latest achievement, Lipton said, "I owe this opportunity to those I work with and who have helped me. That's really what it comes down to."
The Manitoba Gaming Control Commission (MGCC) has come far since its formation in 1997, and a large part of its evolution and success is owed to its executive director and CEO who has been on board from the beginning, Rick Josephson.
Without question, Josephson's leadership within the MGCC has been key to the organization's continued growth and positive impact on Manitoba's gaming industry, making him an ideal recipient for the 2011 Industry Leadership and Outstanding Contribution award.
“I was completely taken aback when I received the call from Bill Rutsey,” recalled Josephson. “The award is an honour that really reflects positively on everyone at the MGCC, and it's one I am very honoured to receive on their behalf.”
Beginning as a micro-biologist with the Department of Fisheries' Laboratory in Victoria, B.C., Josephson rose through the ranks to become Regional Director of Fisheries and Habitat Management for the Central and Arctic Region. Later, he made the leap to VP of a private national security firm in Western Canada, becoming Chief Operating Officer of the company soon after and then joining the MGCC to lead the organization.
Since the late 1990s, Josephson has guided the MGCC to develop its role as the province's independent regulator. Under his leadership, MGCC has expanded greatly its oversight for traditional responsibilities including registration, inspections and game integrity and integrated new accountabilities for investigations, responsible gambling and public education. Josephson has also made great strides and strong relationships within Manitoba’s First Nations communities, acting as a advisor to help move forward with Manitoba’s policies to advance First Nations gaming as an economic development opportunity. His work on this file led to the development of two casinos by Manitoba First Nations consortiums. A third is expected to open in 2012.
No doubt, Josephson's efforts have earned him praise throughout the industry. Robert Scarpelli, Managing Director at HLT Advisory, was quick to offer his congratulations, saying,
“Rick is one of the more insightful, practical, thoughtful, and humble executives in the entire Canadian gaming industry. All stakeholders in the Manitoba gaming industry are well served by Rick Josephson.”
Echoing Scarpelli's sentiments, Winston Hodgins, President & CEO of Manitoba Lotteries Corporation added: "Congratulations to Rick on receiving this most prestigious award which honours his significant contribution to gaming. At Manitoba Lotteries we have particularly appreciated his desire to foster good working relationships between the regulator and industry. Rick has always taken an open and practical approach which indeed has served the industry and public well."
No doubt, Josephson's work with the MGCC reaped positive and lasting results. Added Josephson: “As one of my 'friends' at the MGCC said, 'it’s amazing what can happen if you stay in one place long enough’.
Volunteerism and Community Service Award
The Volunteerism and Community Service Award recognizes an individual within the gaming industry who has made a significant donation of their time and talents to volunteer and charity pursuits. This year's recipient, Howard Blank, certainly fits the bill.
An entertainer and marketer by trade, Howard's background includes extensive work within Vancouver's film, radio and television industry. This experience has served him well in his many years as VP of Media and Entertainment with Great Canadian Gaming in B.C., and in raising awareness, support and funds for charitable organizations including Variety - the Children's Charity, Special Olympics British Columbia, Honour House, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, Canuck’s Autism Network, CNIB, and CHILD Foundation amongst others.
“It is an honour to be recognized in this way,” said Howard. “This is such a wonderful award as it recognizes the importance of giving of one’s time and talent towards important charitable groups that do invaluable service and assist so many needy families during very difficult and courageous times.”
In addition to serving on numerous charity boards, groups and committees behind the scenes, Howard also draws on his entertainment background to perform as a spokesperson for multiple organizations, host for many fundraising events, and as a celebrity auctioneer for over 25 charitable functions a year.
Howard really does want everyone to have fun and to enjoy themselves,” said Barbara Hislop, executive director of Variety, the Children's Charity in B.C., explaining, “When he meets some of the kids who have special needs he genuinely wants them to have special times and to minimize any hardships they face. Howard is all about bringing smiles to their faces.”
Another example of Howard's willingness to serve is through his work with the Vancouver Police's Odd Squad Productions, a charitable organization which educates youth on the dangers of drug use and gang affiliation through mentorship and education.
Howard truly cares about improving the lives of young people facing hardship and despair, such as drug addiction and homelessness. He has demonstrated over and over how important this work is to him,” noted Rob Rothwell, a superintendent with the Vancouver Police Department. “Howard is a dynamic individual with a huge sense of altruism. He is committed to giving back to the community, and is one of those rare individuals that has the courage and drive to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. His ability to produce results when called upon is astonishing.”
Howard thanks many people for his award including his colleagues at Odd Squad, Variety and Great Canadian Gaming. He also thanks his longtime mentor Ross J. McLeod, and his parents for instilling in him the importance of giving back to one's community “I am truly the fortunate one as when I give from my heart,” said Howard, adding, “I am rewarded ten-fold with love, happiness, and ultimately success on all levels.”