How we helped one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups save thousands in legal fees

Case Study: Entain PLC

How we helped one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups save thousands in legal fees

FTSE 100 company Entain plc is one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector. It owns brands such as Ladbrokes, Coral, BetMGM, bwin, Sportingbet, Eurobet, partypoker, Gala and Foxy Bingo. The Group holds licences in over 20 jurisdictions and employs a workforce of more than 24,000, in 20 offices across five continents. Each year, the busy UK HR team deals with large volumes of operational employee relations (ER) issues through a focused Group ER advisory team. It also has a number of highly specialist employment matters which require significant complex legal advisory support.

About Entain PLC

  • Over 24,000 employees
  • Over 3,000 betting shops under the Ladbrokes and Coral brands
  • One of the most successful sports-betting and gaming companies in the UK

The Challenge

With ever increasing legal costs, the HR team were aiming to win budget approval for broader schemes that would, strategically, benefit the business. Furthermore, valuable time and effort was being duplicated by the senior HR management team having to get involved with the more complex ER issues.

The key issues were:

  1. Entain needed fast paced, commercial, imaginative 'options-based' support.
  2. Existing customer service, accessibility and response standards needed reviewing.
  3. The escalating costs of specialist advice prevented any real budgetary control year on year.

The Solution

To mitigate the uncertainty of fluctuating legal advisory spend from one year to the next, we created a guaranteed annual subscription-based service programme offering Entain all the benefits of specialist city law firm quality legal advice, without the associated traditional law firm costs. 

This was supported with access to esphr’s online HR resources portal (offering hundreds of document precedents, policies, technical updates plus a suite of HR compliance E-Learning modules and lots more). As well as access to esphr's market-leading ER case management system – giving Entain control and real-time visibility over the progress of cases, cost and time spent by the esphr lawyers on every matter.

The Benefits

Significant savings have been diverted to allow:

  • Increased investment in a crucial ER tracker system to enable greater visibility on all ER issues across the business.
  • Increased investment in improving the training and development of line managers out in the field.
  • Less firefighting and more time allocated to productive business-benefiting activities, helping the team make a serious commercial difference.

In addition, there have been other significant budget saving benefits, not immediately foreseen at launch:

  • The HR budget is easier to manage with a significant reduction in the variable element of ER case related legal costs (such as tribunal management).
  • A fluctuation in case numbers no longer puts pressure on other elements of the HR budget, which simply does not happen in the standard operating model of a traditional law firm.
  • This in turn, allows certainty in planned spend in other key strategic HR services, such as recruitment, reward and employee engagement.
  • The worry that larger legal fees than expected could curtail the offer or development of other key HR services or benefits is no longer a key concern.

We were using some pretty expensive city lawyers before — but we wanted to get one consistent supplier, whilst being conscious of the cost. We chose esphr after careful consideration of all our options. There is a real in-house feel to the relationship, in that they know our business and the issues we face.

The wider HR team can avoid the cautious approach you can naturally adopt when costs are on the clock every time you pick up the phone to a lawyer which can, in turn, lead to the ER team not making certain calls solely down to cost implications. The esphr model means they can sense check cases daily and are less inclined to take a risk when specialist advice is readily accessible. I think the sense checking or sounding board part of the esphr model is very valuable.

Carly Durcan

Head of Employee Relations, Entain PLC

How we helped one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups save thousands in legal fees