iGaming Express talks to Entain's Director of Corporate Affairs, Grainne Hurst

Credit:  Bartosz Burzyński, iGaming Express, 12 September 2023

This time [iGaming Express] interviews Director Corporate Affairs at Entain, Grainne Hurst. In our conversation, we focus on topics such as responsible gambling and player protection, communication with customers, or legal regulations. There is also a thread where we discuss changes in the industry, as well as Entain’s guiding values.

Grainne Hurst: At Entain, we want to exemplify what it means to be a responsible gambling business

Q. Entain has been actively involved in promoting responsible gambling and player protection. How does your role contribute to these initiatives, and what strategies do you employ to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for customers?

Safer gambling is central to our work at Entain. As Director of Corporate Affairs, I work across international teams to implement our responsible gambling and player protection initiatives. This involves reviewing our existing initiatives and working with colleagues to identify new areas for innovation and growth and bringing those ideas to fruition.

At Entain, we want to exemplify what it means to be a responsible gambling business. I’m proud that in my role I get to work on industry-leading safer gambling initiatives such as becoming the first gambling operator to unilaterally end advertising during live sports, excluding racing, and ending gambling sponsorship on the front of football shirts in the UK.

We invest millions into research, education and treatment initiatives, funding projects that shape our player protection practice. For example, in 2021, we introduced our Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) technology, which uses AI to detect problematic play with an accuracy rating of over 90%.

We know that we alone don’t have all the answers and these initiatives, designed to protect customers, are the product of partnerships which help us to become more than the sum of our parts. We worked with Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction Research to build ARC, to make it as effective as possible. Tools like ARC empower our customers to gamble safely. We’re proud that as of this year, ARC operates in 22 jurisdictions across the globe in real-time to make interventions individually tailored for each customer.

Q. As the Director of Corporate Affairs, you likely engage with various stakeholders, including regulators, media, and the public. How do you manage and maintain effective communication and relationships with these diverse groups?

Entain is strongly in favour of good regulation. One of my responsibilities is looking at how Entain can best work with governments and regulators in every country that we operate in, to ensure our industry continues to be a force for good in our economy. Regulation that is considered, proportionate and evidence-based will help ensure the betting and gaming sector is sustainable and safe, and that everyone who wants to enjoy a bet can do so safely.

For me, it’s most important to enter every relationship with a collaborative mindset. Everyone around the table has something to contribute, and hearing different perspectives can help shed new light on an issue that you’re trying to solve.

When we talk about regulation, or any communication with a stakeholder on a policy issue, I find it is most effective to lead with the facts. Accuracy is important and there is no better way to get to the heart of the matter than by following the data.

I also think it’s very important to keep stakeholders informed and engaged about what your business is doing, and to never be afraid to ask for their help – we all want the same outcome, and more often than not that requires us to work together on shared challenges and opportunities, rather than in silos.

Q. The gambling industry is undergoing significant changes, both in terms of regulations and public perception. How does your team navigate these changes and ensure that Entain’s corporate objectives align with evolving industry standards?

We work closely and collaboratively with all of our stakeholders, be they regulators, customers or critics, to ensure that Entain is reflecting their views for a modernised gambling industry. With each decision we take, we ensure that we are protecting both our customers’ rights, and also protecting at-risk players from harm. Our policies are backed by evidence to make sure that as a company we are making the best decisions for the safety and enjoyment of our players.

As an industry we are going through a period of evolution as more of our products become digital, so it is important we maintain an open dialogue with regulators in the markets in which we operate, as well as governments and politicians. By working together, we can exchange ideas on the future of our sector, and provide feedback on what is working, what is not working, and consider what the data is telling us about how our industry should evolve.

Q. In your view, what sets Entain apart from its competitors, and what drives the company to continuous improvement and innovation?

The customer is truly the driver of our business. Their safety and enjoyment is paramount. Over many years we have pioneered a safer gambling strategy with an ambition to lead the industry in this field and our successes to date make us even more motivated to keep innovating. I’m really proud to work for a company that constantly pushes us to go further. We developed ARC because we wanted use technology to proactively monitor and intervene in order to improve our player protection practices, and we didn’t just pioneer it, we excelled with it – the leading UK safer betting and gaming charity, GamCare, awarded it the Advanced Safer Gambling Standard.

Q. What specific area do you dedicate the most attention to? Which issues related to your role are of the highest importance to you?

For me, it’s most important that I understand the regulatory issues that Entain faces in each market we operate in, as compliance is fundamental to our business. We earn 100% of our revenue from regulated or regulating markets, so my understanding of policies related to our regulation is my top priority.

I would also say that one of the best parts of my job is having a say in our corporate partnerships through the Entain Foundation. The Foundation is our charitable arm and is committed to investing £100m in good causes through 2024. We contribute to some really incredible causes, from research, education and treatment to women in STEM to grassroots and elite sport.

Credit:  iGaming Express, 12 September 2023