BGC elects Grainne Hurst as new CEO

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has appointed Grainne Hurst as the new Chief Executive of the trade and standards body representing the UK gambling sector.

An expert in public affairs and corporate social responsibility (CSR), Hurst joins the BGC from Entain Plc, where she served as Group Corporate Affairs Director of the FTSE 100 gambling group.

2024 has seen the BGC restructure its corporate governance as Brigid Simmonds (OBE) ended her five-year tenure as inaugural chair of the trade body. Changes saw CEO Michael Dugher take on the role of Chairman, replacing Simmonds who will end duties with the trade body on 20 April.

Welcoming Hurst as the new CEO, the BGC underscored her proven track record in launching high-impact and high-visibility CSR campaigns and sustainability initiatives for gambling.

Of significance, Hurst oversaw the development of the Entain Foundation, the multi-million sustainability charter of the FTSE business committed to raising £100m for ESG initiatives in the UK, Europe, North America, and Africa.

Further accomplishments saw Hurst establish and expand the international arm of Global Gaming Women, where she is a board member, and oversaw the directive’s expansion to the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Michael Dugher, BGC
Michael Dugher: BGC Chairman

BGC CEO Michael Dugher, added: “Grainne’s appointment is excellent news for the BGC and our members. She 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 widely and rightly respected across the industry and, as I step back to take on the role of Chairman of the BGC, I am confident she will work well with our talented staff to make a decisive impact as our new CEO.”

Hurst will lead the BGC at a critical juncture for UK gambling, as the Gambling Review reaches its technical phase, testing the feasibility of £2/£5 staking limits and affordability checks on gambling consumers.

Furthermore, the UK Gambling Commission is yet to finalise the operating framework for UK gambling’s mandatory levy, needed to fund problem gambling research, education, and treatment (RET) projects, programmes, and stakeholders.

Grainne Hurst, said: “I am delighted to be joining the BGC at such a crucial time for its members and the millions of customers they serve. I am very grateful to Michael Dugher for everything he has done in establishing the BGC and I look forward to leading our talented staff to make a decisive impact as the new CEO.

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.”

SBC News BGC elects 'standout leader' Grainne Hurst as new CEO of trade body
Ian Proctor: Flutter UK&IRE

The significance of Hurst’s appointment was underlined by Ian Proctor, Executive Chairman, Flutter UKI as the best candidate to lead a trade body representing 90% of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK, whose members support 110,000 jobs, generate £4.2bn in tax, and contribute £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added.

Proctor concluded: “Grainne’s appointment as Chief Executive is a vital step in ensuring we engage constructively at every level while championing those who work in our industry and offering the best service possible to our customers.

The BGC’s role has never been as important as we move into a new era where the Government and Gambling Commission work with the industry, to implement the recommendations from the White Paper from a year ago.”