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UK trade association the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has named Entain group director of corporate affairs Grainne Hurst as its new CEO.

In January, the BGC announced that current CEO Michael Dugher would leave the role to become the organisation’s chairman, as existing chair Brigid Simmonds prepares to stand down from her role on 20 April.

The trade association announced today (8 April) that Hurst would take up her new role “in the coming months.”

Professional background

Hurst boasts several years’ experience working both in the gambling sector and with government.

She has previously held roles as a parliamentary researcher in the office of Philip Davies MP, a consultant with PR firm Luther Pendragon, senior public affairs manager for supermarket chain Asda, and a special adviser to the UK government.

In 2015, Hurst joined Ladbrokes Coral (now Entain) as head of public affairs, before progressing to the role of group director of corporate affairs of GVC Holdings in 2018.

In that role, she spearheaded the company’s rebrand from GVC to Entain, while leading its relationships with government and the public sector.

During her time with the FTSE 100 operator, Hurst also championed women in the gambling industry, leading on initiatives including the establishment of the international arm of Global Gaming Women, of which she is a board member.

She is also a board member of the Entain Foundation, and was responsible for creating and delivering the operator’s global safer gambling strategy, Changing for the Bettor.

Executive commentary

“I am delighted to be joining the BGC at such a crucial time for its members and the millions of customers they serve,” Hurst said in a statement.

“My focus will always be on ensuring that we have a well regulated industry which protects customers and looks after their interests.

“The betting industry in the UK has world leading businesses and iconic brands and I will work hard to ensure they remain so. There is much to be done and I look forward to getting started.”

Current BGC CEO Dugher added: “[Hurst] won a very tough, external recruitment process and clearly demonstrated that she has not only mission critical knowledge and experience in the regulated industry – both online and in the land-based sector – but also a strong vision for continued change and improvement at the BGC.

“Grainne’s wealth of experience, impressive leadership qualities, formidable campaigning skills and acumen will be essential in working with all of our members to take the BGC to the next level.

“She is someone who is rightly widely respected across the industry and, as I step back to become chair of the BGC, I am confident she will work well with our talented staff to make a decisive impact as our new CEO.”

New era for the BGC

Hurst joins at a critical time for the BGC and the UK gambling industry at large.

Following the release of the government’s Gambling Act review white paper last year, the industry faces significant changes in the coming years.

As the UK also prepares to elect a new government later this year, the BGC will be tasked with representing the industry’s interests nationally.

“I am incredibly proud to be able to represent an industry that supports 110,000 jobs and serves the 22.5 million adults in Britain who enjoy a bet each month as part of their leisure and entertainment experience – whilst ensuring effective protections are in place for those who may be at risk,” Hurst said today in a post on LinkedIn.

“I would also like to thank my incredible team at Entain, who I will miss deeply, but who I know will go from strength to strength,” she added.

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