Autumn signals a ‘generational change’


2020’s Autumn months held no respite for betting leadership, as the sector was placed at the forefront of global business headlines reporting on inbound changes be it through regulatory challenges, M&A or leadership changes…

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The betting industry’s autumn proceedings begun with further political maneuverers centred around the UK government’s vowed review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The House of Lords formed its ‘Peers for Gambling Reform’ (PGR) group outlining ‘key priorities’ that must be guaranteed by the government’s generational reform of the gambling sector.

With the political spotlight firmly placed on the gambling industry’s wider reforms and operator conduct, Flutter Entertainment grabbed national headlines by appointing former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson as new corporate social responsibility advisor.

Further industry high-profile appointments followed as 888 Holdings declared that former Tony Blair strategic advisor Lord Mendelsohn would replace Brian Mattingley as its designate company chairman.

Observing political developments, former William Hill Chief Executive Ralph Topping pondered to SBC whether an under pressure Conservative government dealing with the ongoing Covid crisis and Brexit negotiations held the ‘capacity or imagination to reform UK gambling for the better.

September’s ‘SBC Summit Barcelona Digital’ placed the changing global demands of industry leadership at the forefront of its conference agenda as Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings, and Sportradar founder Carsten Koerl acknowledged that the industry was in the ‘midst of a perfect storm facing changing technology and social cycles which held radical and profound effects on consumers.

Industry changes led both political and business headlines as William Hill’s board was forced to confirm ‘City rumours that the heritage bookmaker was being pursued by US suitors Apollo Global and Caesars Entertainment.

Closing its autumn trading, William Hill informed investors that it had accepted Caesars £2.9 billion bid. Company chairman Roger Devlin personally approved the Caesars offer, stating that a strategic merger with its US wagering partner laid the foundations for the bookmaker’s aggressive multi-state growth ambitions.

A generational changed would be called in Australia as Paula Dwyer and David Attenborough jointly ended their 10-year tenure as the Chairwoman and Chief Executive of Tabcorp Holdings. A poignant Dwyer signed off her chairmanship urging Tabcorp to uphold its ‘civic duties’, as Australia recovers from a ‘devastating year for its national psyche‘ as the onset of COVID-19 followed the devastation of the National Bushfires.

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