@bigsocrates: For whatever it's worth, I disqualify winners and runner-ups from previous years from the list. Layoffs won the commenter's choice award last year and had its jersey raised to the rafters; I guess we could call it the Mario Lemieux of gaming news and unretire it for a second run? At any rate, I plan to post my list in progress in a few weeks, maybe sooner if something batshit like the Unity fiasco happens again.
To your other point, I think it's super representative of entertainment regulators to abhor the aesthetic of gambling but not real, substantive gambling. There's a total lack of curiosity to check the basic fact of whether you can actually put real money into the game after you've bought it. The game cannot possibly improve your poker skills beyond recognizing when you have a scoring hand and when you might be on the verge of having a great scoring hand (and even then...). This is the kind of braindead decisionmaking that gave the gaming community a kneejerk distrust of regulators of all kinds in the 90's.