Entain Launches Black Fire Women’s Innovation Igniter

More women should get into the gaming industry – this is the message sent out by Entain’s latest initiative. In partnership with the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), Entain is launching a new program, the Black Fire Women’s Innovation Igniter.

Recruit, Mentor, Support and Introduce

Featuring an initial class of 20, the new program designed to “recruit, mentor, support and introduce women” to the basic tenets of sports betting, gaming technology and online gaming industries, is set to begin in August this year.

“This industry has largely been male-dominated. Times are changing, but we believe that perhaps times are not changing quickly enough. … It’s critically important to support women in technology, women in gambling technology.”

Martin Lycka, SVP, US Regulatory Affairs, Entain

The Black Fire Women’s Innovation Igniter will also seek to create a more inclusive environment for women in an industry historically dominated by males, as research shows females are largely underrepresented in terms of leadership roles in both the technology and gaming sectors.

According to data from nonprofit Catalyst, only 27% of women feature in STEM-qualified industries, while a 2019 study from the UNLV revealed 35.5% of positions from manager-level and above were held by females, as the higher the position sits in the organizational structure, the lower is the level of female representation.

More Women Get into Gambling

But change is inevitable as more and more women enter the gambling space as customers, after a 2019 report from the Gambling Commission in the UK discovered 43% of gamblers were female, up 2% from 2018.

Despite that certain gaming activities such as sports betting are still largely dominated by men, increasing the number of women “behind the scenes” would represent a huge opportunity for gaming companies, Jan Jones Blackhurst who will be leading the igniter program outlined.

Blackhurst, a member of the Board of Directors at Caesars Entertainment and chief executive in residence of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, will have the support of Robert Rippee who is tasked with the role of executive director for the Black Fire Women’s Innovation Igniter.

The gambling group which operates BetMGM, the sports betting brand partly owned by Entain and MGM Resorts, showed in January its commitment to female inclusion by appointing Jette Nygaard-Andersen as chief executive officer to make her only the 6th CEO at FTSE100 company.

The new program will provide invaluable opportunities for Entain to mentor female students from the UNLV and place them on internships and jobs. Entain is also planning on setting up an office with software developers and engineers in the foreseeable future, housed inside the Black Fire facility, a 43,000-square-foot space featuring an esports arena and a virtual reality studio.

Entain’s initiative followed in the footsteps of another UK-based sports betting group. In January, William Hill announced its Lead IT Lady program aimed at developing future leaders in the technology sector.

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