As media partner of Eventus International we have received the following Interview with Christina Thakor-Rankin regarding Annual Sports Betting West Africa Summit.
By: Jordan Crossley – Conference Producer at Eventus International
Eventus International’s Conference producer of the upcoming Sports Betting East Africa Summit caught up with 1710 Gaming’s Principal Consultant: Christina Thakor-Rankin to find out about her rise to becoming one of the most influential gambling sector consultants, her thoughts on cutting edge technology, and new legislation in the African market.
Christina Thakor-Rankin – Principle Consultant, 1710 Gaming Ltd
Christina has over 25 years’ experience in the betting, gaming and gambling industry. Starting out in the pre-dotcom era, she has a career spanning land, internet and mobile, cross all aspects of betting and gaming operations, holding senior roles with some of the world’s best known brands (such as William Hill and Virgin) and responsible for managing multiple business disciplines, functions and teams across a range of channels, products, customers, and jurisdictions, including regulatory compliance and money laundering.
Christina will be chairing the 4th Annual Sports Betting East Africa Summit and sharing her wealth of expertise with delegates by moderating some of the panel discussions.
Jordan: How did you first get involved in the gambling industry?
Christina Thakor-Rankin: Ironically, by chance. I started working part-time in taking bets over the phone at William Hill as a student – better pay, conditions and hours than working in a bar or fast food chain. I’ve always been into sport and the fact that I was able to watch the football and cricket whilst at work was fantastic.
Having finished my degree and not sure of what to do next I decided to just take some time out and started working there full-time. At the same time, I got into horse-racing and betting – and discovered that if I put in the effort I was quite good at it. Unsurprisingly, the more successful I was at betting, the more attractive the industry became, but not to the point that I was considering it as a career option. The tipping point was on a work’s night out when during a chance encounter I was advised in rather strong terms by someone who considered themselves to be the font of all industry knowledge that whilst I might be ‘lucky at betting’, a woman could ‘never make it in the industry’. Not true – there were already women making their mark at that very Company, but he was drunk and bigoted, and I was drunk and determined to prove him wrong, and in that moment made a decision that I have never once, for a single moment, regretted. With the benefit of hind-sight I owe a lot to that man!
Jordan: Christina, you are very involved with the African gambling industry, what excites you about the African gaming sector?
Christina Thakor-Rankin: Africa today reminds me of where the UK was when I first started out in the industry. This incites feelings of comfort and excitement in equal measure. Comfort because as it feels like familiar territory. Excitement because if I am right then Africa is at the start of what could be an incredibly exciting journey, which will see what is often seen as a minority interest transformed into a mainstream leisure and entertainment activity on the back of technology, consumer education and savvy marketing.
This in turn will generate a natural evolutionary process and constant search for improvement and the next iteration of products – the perfect conditions for the conception of new ideas and innovation and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if one of the ‘next big things’ in the world of betting and gambling comes out of Africa.
For me right now, Africa is a really, really, exciting place to be.
Jordan: You have been a part of Eventus International’s events for some time now, what keeps you coming back every year?
Christina Thakor-Rankin: For me Eventus events do what very few events do, they strike the right balance between globalization and localization.
By this I mean that every event is tailored to meet the needs of the jurisdiction in which they are held, bringing together and allowing all of the key stakeholders starting with the regulators, and widen out to include operators, law enforcement, social responsibility groups, investors and interested parties, to share a common platform which supports open and constructive debate, discussion, and collaboration.
At a time when most conferences and events are trying to be all things to all people, and so big that it can sometimes be difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’, or miss out due to conflicting sessions taking place at the same time, the Eventus conferences are in my opinion pretty good value in that an attendee can experience and participate in everything on the agenda without compromise or having to choose between conflicting and competing sessions.
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