Can you tell us a bit about your background and what you were doing before joining Entain?

I joined Entain (then PartyGaming) in 2005, prior to the merger with bwin Interactive Entertainment AG in March 2011 to form digital entertainment plc. I started as Group Company Secretary & Group Director overseeing all corporate, legal and secretarial matters.

When GVC Holdings acquired in February 2016, I took on a senior executive role with the combined GVC Group as Company Secretary, also heading up the internal legal, compliance and regulatory affairs departments. I’ve been Chief Governance Officer at Entain since January 2021.

Do operators have a responsibility to protect those who engage in betting and gaming, and especially those who are considered high risk

Absolutely. The overwhelming majority of people who bet, and by the overwhelming majority I mean 99% plus, celebrate wins with joy, and losses with a rueful smile. They bet when they feel like it – often as one part of a social and sport-loving lifestyle.

Official figures from the Gambling Commission, released in March 2022, found that the overall problem gambling rate actually fell from 0.3% to 0.2%. This is by no means coincidental. We’ve been working tirelessly for a number of years to create a system which spots signs of harm, intervenes with customers and stops those on a harmful trajectory of play. We have developed proprietary technology such as ARC, through which we have significantly extended behavioural indicators used to identify players potentially at risk, providing unprecedented safeguards for customers of all our online sports betting and gaming brands by minimising problems before they arise

However, one problem gambler will always be one too many. Despite the positive trends, none of it minimises the extreme seriousness with which we view problem gambling. Change needs to happen and, as an industry, we have to do our utmost to help people who find it hard to bet safely.

How can technology and AI help protect those who are at risk of problem gambling?

Through the application of sophisticated analytics, behavioural indicators, and data science, we can rapidly and effectively identify risks in player behaviour to intervene before a problem develops. Without the availability of such technology, a personalised approach to player protection wouldn’t be possible.

Our Advanced Responsibility & Care programme (ARC) is an example of this personalised player protection approach. Using the latest innovative technology, we are able to identify risks rapidly and effectively in player behaviour to intervene before a problem develops.

Breaking it down slightly: technological developments in the past decade have allowed us to build new risk-assessment models, which are more sophisticated than ever before. Built into these risk-assessment models are new and innovative markers of protection which quickly ascertain when an intervention is required so that customers can be protected before any harm is done.

There are also new controls which allow for a tailored approach to player protection. In addition to intervening, they recommend a control to a customer quickly based on their betting habits. They also allow us to build a picture of each individual player’s betting behaviour, so the suggested approach can be tailored to each individual.

How important is sustainability in the world of adult gaming?

Sustainability, and ESG more generally, is of paramount importance in the world of adult gaming and sports betting. ESG and sustainability principally boil down to ‘doing the right thing’ and, in the current climate, any business that doesn’t put ESG at the forefront of its agenda is ultimately going to be left behind in the years to come.

How big a role does tech play in the betting and gaming world?

Technology plays a huge role in how we promote safer gambling practices as well as enabling us to offer our customers new, exciting experiences, both in-store and online. It also allows us to deliver our purpose which is to bring “moments of excitement into people’s lives”.

The way we use technology and data provides us with the ability to be even more innovative – customer behaviours are constantly changing, and people want new things in new ways. Interactive entertainment is more mobile and more immersive; customers want richer and more engaging experiences with more content, social interaction, and media

Do you think tech’s importance to the sector will only increase as the years go by?

Definitely. Technology is changing what companies can offer their customers and what our customers are looking for. This is what drives our focus on our customers every day.

We believe that in the future, there will be a convergence of media, entertainment and gaming which focuses primarily on experiences. Our ambition is to use our technology to expand our proposition and offer customers a 360* experience, combining data, stats, and immersive technology.