Grainne Hurst from Entain appointed as new CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council replacing Brigid Simmonds

Grainne Hurst, currently serving as group corporate affairs director at Entain, has been selected as the new CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to succeed Brigid Simmonds.
Britain’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced the appointment of Grainne Hurst, group corporate affairs director at Entain, as the new CEO of the Council.

Hurst joins the BGC from her previous role at Entain. Her appointment comes as part of a broader restructuring of the BGC’s senior leadership.

This follows January’s announcement that Brigid Simmonds would step down as the BGC’s chair. At that time, it was announced that Michael Dugher would serve as CEO “until a replacement is found”.

The current BGC CEO, Michael Dugher, will now move to become chair, replacing outgoing chair Brigid Simmonds OBE.

Simmonds has chaired the BGC since its inception in 2019, overseeing the representation of the UK’s gambling industry.

Outgoing BGC CEO Michael Dugher sees the announcement as "excellent news for both the BGC and its members".

"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," he said.

"She emerged successful from a rigorous external recruitment process and clearly demonstrated that she possesses 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 Betting and Gaming Council."

Hurst has held several senior roles in both the land-based and online sectors. Most notably, she spent almost a decade with Entain. During this time, Hurst led the company’s activities and relationships with the government and the public sector. She was also instrumental in the company’s rebranding from GVC to Entain.

Hurst is also a board member of the Entain Foundation. This has led her to create and implement Entain’s multi-award-winning global safer gambling strategy, Changing for the Bettor.

She has also served as a special advisor to the UK government. Hurst studied at King’s College London and Queen Mary University in London.

Among her many career achievements, she also "brings a passion for increasing the number of high-profile women in the industry". This led Hurst to establish the international arm of Global Gaming Women. The charity now has an extensive presence across the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Brigid Simmonds OBE will step down as chair of the BGC on April 20, with Dugher now replacing her as chair.

"I am delighted to be joining the BGC at such a crucial time for its members and the millions of customers they serve," said Hurst. "I am very grateful to Michael Dugher for everything he has done in establishing the BGC and I look forward to working closely with him to move it forward.

"My focus will always be on ensuring that we have a well-regulated industry that 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."

The appointment was confirmed with members this week following a rigorous external recruitment process.

The appointment was also endorsed by Ian Proctor, executive chairman of Flutter UK&I.

"The BGC’s role has never been as important as we move into a new era where the government and Gambling Commission work with industry to implement the recommendations from the white paper from a year ago," he said.

"Grainne’s appointment as chief executive is a vital step in ensuring we engage constructively at every level while championing those who work in the industry and offering the best service possible to our customers."

2024 set to be a crucial year

As per its official communication, the BGC represents over 90 percent of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK. In total its members support 110,000 jobs. They also generate £4.2 billion in tax and contribute £7.1 billion to the economy.

The implementation of the UK’s white paper will no doubt prove to be a key part of Hurst’s new role. Released in April 2023, the white paper outlined how gambling should be regulated in the UK. The BGC broadly backed the government’s gambling white paper at the time, particularly in relation to casino reform. The white paper also included proposals on affordability checks, sports betting, and land-based casinos.

However, in November 2023 the BGC accused the UK government of launching a "stealth tax raid" on casinos. It is estimated that it could cost the industry £5 million (€5.8 million/$6.4 million) per year.

It also noted that casinos contribute £300 million annually in taxes. Across the entire economy, the sector provides an estimated £800 million a year in gross value. Dugher himself has stated that the "stealth tax" could slow recovery and hamper future growth.
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