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By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:
2021 is shaping up to be an absolutely sensational year. In the UK, some 15 million people have been vaccinated against COVID with a drug that will no doubt work because the Government and press tell us so. And in the US of A, the country’s very first female president and vice president team were sworn in. Oh, wait – we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. That’s not for a few months yet.
Anyhow, the British mainstream media has been rather distracted over the past couple of weeks what with the foreign election of a 78-year old political journeyman, not to mention the roll-out of the most poorly-researched vaccine in the history of modern medicine - so distracted in fact that many news outlets (apart from the Guardian, natch) completely missed the appointment of Entain’s first female CEO. To compensate in a very, very small way, we’ve composed a profile of the new chief executive as well as the company she’ll be in charge of.
Entain is of course the owner of Ladbrokes – one of the UK’s most celebrated gambling brands. As well as sports-book, this famous company does a pretty decent line in slots and table games, as detailed in our Ladbrokes casino review. It was purchased by Entain (then GVC Holdings) in 2017 for a deal estimated to be in the region of £4 billion.
Despite major deals being struck with the likes of Playtech in recent years, the company has fallen foul of the Gambling Commission on a number of occasions. In 2018 it was ordered to pay £1 million in compensation after one of its customers stole money to fund his gambling addiction. Then in 2019, the Commission announced that Ladbrokes would have to part with £5.9 million due to anti-money laundering failures.
In July of 2020, long-standing CEO Kenny Alexander was replaced by Shay Segev. Whether or not the move had anything to do with Ladbroke’s numerous brushes with the Gambling Commission is unclear. At the time, Alexander claimed that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Whatever the truth, there’s no getting away from the fact that during his thirteen-year tenure, Alexander turned GVC into a global gambling brand.
Fast forward six months and Segev has now decided to leave as well. For some, his timing is baffling considering that Ladbrokes is embroiled in an £8 million takeover battle with MGM Resorts. Regardless, Jette Nygaard-Andersen was named CEO on Thursday. While it might appear that she’s been thrown under the bus given the unwanted attentions of MGM, Entain’s chairman was positively gushing about the new appointment:
“We are extremely fortunate to have such an outstanding candidate and readymade CEO in Jette. She is already deeply immersed in Entain’s strategy, and clearly shares our ambition to be the world leader in sports betting and gaming entertainment.”
In fairness, the US betting giant seems to have lost interest in the acquisition, which means that Nygaard-Andersen should get a fair crack of the whip. She’ll also be supported by Segev who will remain with the company for the next six months as he sees out his notice period.
According to the Guardian, Jette Nygaard-Andersen will be tasked with expanding Entain’s influence in US betting markets. The recent liberalisation of betting regulations by the US Supreme Court means that America is going to prove extremely fertile ground for operators over the coming years. So for Entain, having Nygaard-Andersen on board should be a major advantage, especially considering her pedigree.
Nygaard-Andersen has been with Entain since 2019 when she was appointed as a non-executive director. Prior to this, she served as Chairman and Non-Executive Director at Danish e-Sports company, Astralis, and also held a senior executive position at a Swedish media firm, Modern Times Group. Speaking about her new job, Nygaard-Andersen remarked:
“I am very excited to have the opportunity of continuing the extraordinary momentum that Entain has in its existing markets, as well as helping it enter new regulated markets and reach new audiences.”
Perhaps more notably, Entain’s new CEO also pledged her commitment to ‘industry-leading levels of player protection’ – a rather sore and expensive subject for Ladbrokes right now in light of the heavy fines it’s had to payout.
Nygaard-Andersen joins five women currently serving at FTSE 100 companies. They are Alison Brittain (Whitbread), Alison Rose (Natwest), Emma Walmsley (Glaxo Smith Kline), Liv Garfield (Severn Trent), and Milena Mondini de Focatiis (Admiral).