Simon Banks: Star Sports – Delivering on talent resources amid changing industry values

With the aim of diversifying its business portfolio, Star Sports launched its new recruitment contingent Star Recruitment back in January with the aim of providing tailored staffing solutions to the global gambling industry.

SBC caught up with Simon Banks, a sector resourcing and talent development veteran, who is heading up the new vertical as its Chief Executive Officer. We asked Banks about the challenges the new venture faces, as well as hopes for the new venture.

SBC: The gambling industry as a whole is facing the challenge of increasing compliance measures and changing government policies, particularly in the UK. What effect do you think this will have for Star Recruitment?

SB: I think the reduction in FOBT stakes will have a major impact on the UK Gambling Industry, but the inevitable reduction in shop numbers could be an opportunity for Star Recruitment. We are receiving CVs from shop staff looking to move into other roles while staying in the gambling sector, particularly trading and customer service.

The increasing regulatory burden faced by UK operators will result in a demand for more compliance staff and Star Recruitment will try and supply that demand.

Internationally, it is all about liberalization. From Sweden to the United States markets are opening up and creating lots of opportunities.

SBC: Is the sector seeing more responsibility led roles being created for their operations – for example, SR Managers, Problem Gambling analysts etc?

SB: Yes certainly. The strong stance by the Gambling Commission will lead to an increase in responsibility led roles. Also, the nature of some more traditional roles, like customer service and even traders are changing to reflect a tighter regulatory environment. Now traders are perhaps thinking about ‘source-of-funds’ and customer profiles when making trading decisions.

SBC: Do you have any hopes for expansion into the newly opened US market? If so, what are the challenges you will face?

SB: The United States could offer huge opportunities but it will throw up unique challenges as well. The US labour market is very well protected and difficult for Europeans to access. That said, there will certainly be a demand for the expertise available in the more mature sports betting markets in Europe.

Also, there will be opportunities on the technology side, although the developments made by European sportsbooks are undoubtedly being mirrored in the US.

SBC: What employee skills, dynamics and values do bookmakers want for their businesses? And how will Star Recruitment source the right candidates to fit these criteria?

SB: Operators are looking for people who can adapt and change as operating processes adapt to changing environments. Star Sports has gone through a period of rapid expansion recently and Star Recruitment is, fortunately, able to draw on that experience.

SBC: In terms of improving talent development in the gambling industry, what – in your opinion – does the industry need to tackle in 2019?

SB: Innovation through technological advancements will lead to customer experience being a key part of the competitive environment in 2019. Personalisation, social media traction (given advertising restrictions coming in) and connection through interaction will continue to grow in 2019. This will continue to see a drift away from the traditional methods of bookmaking, but for Star Recruitment open up new avenues of interest within the gambling industry.


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