The necessity of building and maintaining a strong network is a familiar construct among numerous industries, and is certainly one that is not lost in the gaming community.

However, among the multitude of strategies and expert tutorials on how best to achieve such a goal, is the question of: how much do you know about your network? With this in mind, CasinoBeats is aiming to take a look under the hood, if you will, and has tasked the 100 Club to help out.

James King, CEO at Flows, is the latest member to take to the hot seat, elaborating on an events versus marketing dilemma, what is one of the greatest things about the industry, and flushing out problem gambling.

CasinoBeats: Could you begin by talking us through any past experiences that have been gained outside of the gambling industry? Could your career have taken a different path?

James King: I started my professional working life at a PR and experiential marketing agency in London. The agency had a spread portfolio of clients across a wide range of industries. One of my roles was to write press releases for these clients and then sell them to the UK media including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and so on. When I look back, this job really laid a solid foundation for my career moving forwards as I learned many skills from it. 

I realised that I was good at coming up with an idea and then selling it. I often had to turn something that was pretty boring and mundane into something that would make the headlines. For example, one account that we worked on was the British Potato Council which wanted to launch a campaign for National Chip Week. We needed to secure a brand ambassador and we ultimately decided to work with Keith Chegwin. 

We then wrote a PR and distributed it to local and national radio stations and was surprised when I got a response from the Chris Moyles Breakfast Show on BBC Radio One. That same day we also secured a spot on BBC Radio Four, so all in all, it was a very successful campaign that we created really out of nothing. 

Could my career have taken a different path? Yes. I ended up working on the events side of the agency so I could easily have gone further down the experiential marketing route. Although ironically it was by working on events that I found myself getting involved with the gambling sector for the first time. 

CB: What was it that eventually led you into this industry?

JK: The agency that I worked for in London had a small number of gambling clients that we supported with PR but especially with their events. Over time we were able to bring in more clients and it became a big part of our business. 

We eventually phased out the PR side and focused on events. This led to my first proper role in the gambling sector with iGaming Business (joining a few years before we sold to Clarion). I then moved over to lead sales at iGB and from 2015 iGB/Clarion, before moving to the technology side at Gaming Innovation Group.

CB: How would you assess your progress through the industry to date? 

JK: It seems to have gone pretty well. Over my time in the industry, I have been lucky enough to get a broad view from a lot of different angles through the various roles that I have held. This allows me to appreciate the work that people do across most if not all areas of the industry and the business that I am now the CEO of, Flows. This is a role that I have always wanted to do, and I think I had a career path in mind to some extent. 

I have tried to take meaningful steps forward and have always stayed with a company for a number of years to ensure that I can learn as much from that organisation and the role as possible and to also give as much to it as I can before moving on. 

I have never moved with money being the key motivator, rather for progression and team (who I’ll be working with).

CB: Are there any interesting anecdotes that would interest our readers, or any stand out experiences that may not have been possible without the current, or a past, role?

JK: For me, one of the greatest things about this industry is the ability to travel and the incredible people that you meet along the way. I have been able to go to places such as Israel, Brazil, Malta, Las Vegas and everywhere in between, with each place having something different to give both in terms of career and personal development. 

We’ve had a lot of fun over the years (coupled with a ton of hard work too), from driving supercars through the desert outside Vegas, racing yachts around Monaco through to great experiences put on by kind clients, like boxes at sporting events and tables at nightclubs in Vegas with world renowned DJs. 

CB: What would you say have been the major changes during your time working in the industry? Both for the better and worse.

JK: The industry has certainly matured over the time that I have been working in it and very much for the better. Today, we see far greater diversity and equality, and this is allowing organisations to become better across the board. There is still some work to do here, but progress is being made. 

Regulation has come and gone and as the industry continues to grow it will do so via regulatory frameworks and licensing. Whether this is for the better or for the worse depends on your personal view. For me, it is for the better and this is reflected in the changing public perception of gambling. The public can see that we take responsible gambling seriously and that as an industry we are going to great lengths to flush out the bad actors. 

The worst change has been the cancelling of conferences over the past two years – I have now spent 1/5 of my time in the sector without being able to meet with partners, peers and friends at what are always fantastic events. We are a global industry but one that has a relatively small pool of people swimming in it. Virtual events have helped fill the void, but nothing beats in-person networking, and I am really excited to get back on the conference circuit this year. 

CB: If you could ask the 100 Club any questions, or task them with tackling any issue, what would that be?

JK: The task to be issued is a tough one, but has to be to flush out problem gambling, I would task all to push to tackle this. We’ve seen operators like Kindred Group be absolutely transparent about this and prioritise getting the four per cent of its revenue from customers showing signs of harmful betting down to zero per cent. We can all play a part in this, not just operators but suppliers too.

If you would like to tell your story, or be considered for the CasinoBeats 100 Club, please email us at [email protected].

Launched to give a voice to the industry on a range of key issues, the CasinoBeats 100 Club tackles the tricky questions and shares members’ views across the CasinoBeats network. Have your say by joining the 100 Club.