EKG to induct three game-changer industry veterans to its Slot Awards Hall of Fame

Gaming boutique research and consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, LLC (EKG) announced that Buddy Frank, Dennis Mead, and the late Charles Fey have been inducted into the EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame (HOF) Class of 2023.

Both Frank and Mead will be honored in person at the 2023 EKG Slot Awards in Las Vegas on February 23, 2023. Dennis Mead is the fifth inductee to the EKG Slot Awards HOF under the Game Development category while Buddy Frank is the third inductee under the Slot Operations category. In addition, the late Charles Fey will be honored during the event for his key contributions to slot machine game development.

Todd Eilers, Principal at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, commented: “Once again our distinguished Board of Advisors has selected three outstanding individuals to be inducted into the EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame.”

Both Dennis and Buddy have made substantial contributions to the gaming industry and are well deserving of this honor and the decision to honor Charles Fey is significant given his invention sparked an entire industry,” he added.

Buddy Frank was raised in Reno, Nevada. Fresh out of school he started covering the Reno gaming market as a TV Reporter and weekend anchor for the local CBS station in Reno. He joined the Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel in Reno in 1986 as a freelance PR writer and eventually he was promoted to Marketing Director.

He then moved into slot operations taking over as the Slot Director and spending roughly 11 years with the Fitz Group. He also worked as the Slot Director at two of Reno’s premier casinos including the Eldorado Hotel & Casino and the Atlantis Casino Resort. Frank then moved into Tribal gaming taking over as the Vice President of Slots at the Viejas casino in San Diego in 2002.

He then joined the Pechanga Resort Casino as Vice President of Slots in 2007. While at the Pechanga, Frank managed the slot operations at “one of the largest casinos in the world.” During his career, he was known for his slot marketing skills and data-driven decision-making.

He was also known for being an early adopter of new slot systems technology and while at Pechanga set a Guinness World Record for the largest Slot Tournament at the time connecting over 2,500 slot machines across the property. Frank retired in 2015 and remains an industry consultant and content contributor for CDC Reports.

As for Dennis Mead, he joined IGT in the late 1980s as a Senior Graphic Designer and would eventually become Director of Graphics. While at IGT, he was awarded several technology-related patents and was a key game designer for IGT’s very successful S2000 mechanical reel platform.

Mead was the art director on the original S2000 Wheel of Fortune product line, S2000 Megabucks product line and S2000 Quartermania product line plus many more, and personally designed Wild Cherry.

In the 1990s Mead was the first to work with several Las Vegas Strip operators to develop custom-themed slot machines for several of the new casinos opening including the Mirage, MGM, Bellagio, Paris, Luxor and several other casinos.

In the 2000s, he helped to create some of the key branded slot machines including The Addams Family, The Munsters, Jeopardy, and Dimond Cinema among many others. He was also in charge of the art and graphics for IGT’s next-generation S3000 mechanical reel product line which launched in 2016 and received Game of the Year at G2E.

Lastly, Charles Fey, born in 1862 in Germany, set up his own manufacturing plant designed to produce gaming devices in 1896, after moving to the US. His company was called Charles Fey & Company and produced several coin-operated gaming devices that were popular during this time, but it was a certain game that sparked an entire industry.

In 1898 he was credited with developing the gaming industry’s first modern-day “slot machine” called the Liberty Bell. Prior to the Liberty Bell, most gaming devices were wheel-based machines or card-based machines. It was the first gaming machine where the outcome of the game was displayed on three spinning reel strips.

The games proved to be immensely popular and spread across the country with competitors also producing similar games. After a long and successful career, Charles Fey retired in 1943 and passed away of phenomena in 1944.