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Pro Sport Advisory Board outlines 2022 ambitions

EPIC Risk Management’s pioneering Pro Sport Advisory Board has met for the first time in 2022, setting out a plan of action to ensure the best possible player protection in the world of professional sports.

The Boardwas unveiled in October 2021, drawing expertise from across the sporting ecosystem in gambling, gaming, eSports, integrity, athlete welfare and lived experience to guide the organisation’s wider strategic goals and objectives in elite sport, whilst providing recommendations to reduce gaming and gambling harm.

The nine-strong panel of experts from those sectors, supported by EPIC’s Director of Sports Partnerships, John Millington, and Director of Business Development, Martin Bland, convened this week via video call to bring global experience together in one place to identify the areas in need of greater investigation and plans of action.

The three key developments’ to come out of the meeting were:

  • All members will reach out to their network of contacts within professional sports and eSports to gain a better understanding of any gaming or gambling-related ‘pain points’ affecting individuals affiliated to various leagues, associations and governing bodies, aiming to obtain the widest possible range of views and experiences;
  • Given the diverse geographical make-up of the membership, the whole board will seek to gain the best possible understanding of the populations they serve and how best to provide education and information in a manner that will work for them;
  • Starting work on finding cutting edge and innovative solutions to gambling-related challenges, aiming to be ahead of the curve for the protection of those that the Pro Sport Advisory Board is there to serve.

The members will each undertake their own research over the course of the next month, before using their findings to create action points for the group to work upon when the Advisory Board next meets in three months’ time.

John Millington, director of sports partnerships at EPIC, explained how the scene-setting meeting for the year ahead had been a constructive process, revealing:

“It was an open, informative and productive meeting, with a common thread throughout the conversations that more education is needed in all areas.

“It was also clear that the majority of leagues have demonstrated a need for a better understanding of how gambling harm can affect their competitions, especially in terms of integrity management, so that’s an immediate point of note for the Advisory Board to discuss and seek the appropriate solutions to present to the leagues.

“We also looked at some specifics affecting certain regions represented by our membership, and it was clear that in the USA, the sports organisations have accepted – and are aware of – the rapid rise in gambling activity as ever more states legalise the concept, but many of them aren’t as ready as they’d need or like to be in terms of regulation and policy, so that’s another area in which we’ll be happy to make proposals when we’ve collaborated on our approach.”

Martin Bland, EPIC’s new director of business development, agreed the board’s first meeting of 2022 was an extremely positive discussion, adding:

“The meeting provided insightful and expert input from all members. I could sense a real desire to effect change from the whole group.

“There is a determination to provide the advice and support that will help sporting bodies protect their athletes, coaches, management teams, fans, and communities from harm caused by gaming and gambling addiction.

“As ever, we thank our board members for their valuable input and contribution, and we look forward to realising our objectives over the coming months.”

The board also discussed the potential of future expansion to 12 members, should suitable candidates with additional skillsets or expertise be available to make a valued contribution to the concept.

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