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Former Pinnacle CEO Paris Smith says she had to adjust her behaviour throughout a long and established career as a female leader in the male-dominated iGaming industry.

Smith – who served as the chief executive of the Curaçao-based bookmaker for more than 17 years – revealed that stepping down from the top job had given her space to reflect.

“Being in the industry, I was really oblivious to the challenges I was having,” said Smith. “Within the last month, after stepping back, I can see that I did have to work harder.”

Smith was speaking on the CEO Hot Seat panel at iGaming NEXT Valletta 23.

She was asked directly by Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall about the obstacles she had faced in a corporate operating environment because of her gender.

“I had to explain [myself] more,” she replied. “I had to be more diplomatic because people have told me I have a bit of a strong personality.

“I had to oversell what I knew was obvious just to get the buy in from everybody, so that was one of the biggest challenges,” she added.

The topic of gender diversity in iGaming was a hot topic that ran throughout the discussion.

“I had to be more diplomatic because people have told me I have a bit of a strong personality.”
Paris Smith

Later on in the panel, PressEnter executive chairman and session moderator Lahcene Merzoug asked WKND CEO Jennie Strandberg how we can attract more women into the iGaming industry.

Strandberg began her career as a customer service agent in 2010 before climbing the ranks at Casumo for more than seven years.

She then landed her first C-level position as COO of happyhour.io in 2020 before becoming CEO for the first time in January 2022 at B2B service provider WKND.

Strandberg is something of an outlier in the iGaming industry as a young female chief executive, with a disproportionate majority of senior management positions still dominated by men.  

Echoing Smith’s comments that there is a sub-conscious bias at senior level that men might not be aware of, Strandberg said: “As long as senior management is male dominated, there will be a bias interview process.”

Elaborating on her answer, Strandberg said the issue of male versus female distribution was not limited to the gaming industry but was instead a global challenge.

“In iGaming specifically, in junior levels there is not that much of a gap between male and female,” said Strandberg.

“That only becomes more apparent when you go to manager level, and then the gap increases the further up you go,” she added.