EPIC Risk Management has announced new members of its Pro Sport Advisory Board (PSAB), covering a range of sporting sectors and professional areas of expertise.
The additions to the consultancy’s professional sports lived experience advisory committee also represent the widening international scope of its operations, particularly in North America.
Joining the firm are Mike Riley from the UK, Managing Director of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd; Dr Meg Pogovic from Canada, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at NextPlayU; and Rachel Jankowksy, Head of Player Care and Wellbeing of MLS team Chicago Fire FC.
Ben McGregor, EPIC’s Director of Sports Partnerships, said: “We are hugely grateful to all the members of the Pro Sport Advisory Board for the time, expertise and knowledge they impart to ensure that the Board continues its mission of safeguarding professional sports and esports stars from the risk of gaming and gambling harm.
“Our sincere thanks go to Cam and Michelle for the impetus that they have helped to provide and look forward to maintaining a professional relationship with both of them to continue to minimise gambling-related harm, not least because Michelle now joins the EPIC team and we work with Cam’s organisation INTENTA to provide educational resources for teenage audiences.
“The new faces coming in to take their places on the Board provide us with a truly global reach, as three major sporting markets are represented by our newly-inaugurated members.”
McGregor described Riley as a ‘household name’ in UK sports, citing the new PSAB member’s contributions to football, which EPIC believes will become useful for its efforts in sporting integrity.
This is particularly due to the role both Riley and Professional Game Match have played in the officiating of English professional football, as well as the former’s experience as a Premier League and FIFA referee.
In Riley’s home country of the UK, EPIC recently made recommendations for how sports organisations can play a role in minimising gambling harm and integrity, such as adopting strategies for commercial partnerships with betting companies.
Riley said: “Integrity is at the very heart of officiating in any sport and with a lifelong involvement in officiating and the development of match officials across a number of sports, I am very keen to help support the exciting and important work of the Pro Sport Advisory Board.
“EPIC’s mission to promote safer gambling, to provide education and training, and to work with key stakeholders to lead effective governance are key pillars in safeguarding the integrity in elite sport.
“I have seen at first hand the Board’s expertise, experience and passion for recognising the dangers of gambling-related harm and for delivering strategies to address this to protect participants and fans.”
On its new North American PSAB members, EPIC stated that Popovic and Jankowsky will contribute ‘considerable knowledge’ to the consultancy as it targets an enhanced profile in the US and Canada.
“The approach that EPIC has taken around problem gambling in the sports world is unprecedented in its relevance, thoroughness, and professional character,” Jankowsky remarked.
“There is a fantastic balance between EPIC’s foundation of evidence-based research and their use of a lived-experience, qualitative approach to education.
“As gaming and gambling become more prevalent and accessible in the United States, equipping athletes with knowledge and building an awareness around the potential harm of these activities is key in taking a proactive approach to player care.”
As sports betting continues to grow in North America – with Canada’s Ontario province now one of the regions leading markets and over 30 US states opening their markets – EPIC continues to seek growth for its operations there.
In November last year, the group partnered with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), which Popovic’s NextPlayU functions as a career accelerator and community for, along with Olympic and professional athletes..
Popovic added: “I believe that EPIC has stepped into the global sporting stage to solve one of the greatest, silent, complex challenges within professional sport and doing so with an innovative, fearless team approach that shifts the way coaches, clubs, and industry act and collaborate.
“I have huge respect for the individuals involved, as their personal character, lived experiences, and professional track records demonstrate capability and care for people and organisations.”