Gaming Intelligence just presented their 10th Anniversary Edition of the Hot 50 2021 list. The nominations represent the most talented, innovative and inspiring people working in iGaming. According to their Editor in Chief, this year’s Hot 50 contains the most diverse range of individuals they have ever featured.
Therefore, we are more than proud to reveal that Liv Biesemans, Kindred Group’s Deputy General Counsel is nominated under the Legal and Compliance section. This nomination is a testament to all the hard work Liv has done.
We had the opportunity to catch Liv and ask her some questions.
Hi Liv, congratulations on the nomination of Gaming Intelligence Hot 50, 2021. What a great start to the new year. What does this nomination mean to you?
Of course, I’m absolutely delighted and honoured to be nominated in this important category. It is a testament to all the hard work of Kindred’s legal and compliance teams. But for me, it is a team award more than anything else. A great recognition of the important parts legal and compliance teams play in regulated industries, in particular in the gambling industry. This recognition ties in perfectly with Kindred´s values and how Kindred acknowledges compliance as a vital part of success.
What is your background?
I’m a qualified lawyer with a background in European Law and Intellectual Property. I worked in private practice in Brussels for 5 years before moving to London to join Kindred in 2012.
What attracted you to Kindred?
When I started working as a lawyer, the online gambling industry was still very novel and I remember being mesmerised by the growth potential of the industry, the highly digital nature of it and the novel legislative framework that was being newly developed to regulate it (the dream for every lawyer). Joining Kindred was an opportunity to be part of something new and ambitious, where rules and regulations were still being developed. It was also an amazing opportunity to work in a truly international environment and look beyond the borders of national law.
What do you see as a challenge of working within the gambling industry?
The gambling industry is probably one of the most (if not the most) regulated industries in the world. However, the industry is still relatively new and several countries have only just introduced a regulatory framework (think of Sweden and the Netherlands, but also the US). The pressure on a company like Kindred to comply with all these various rules and regimes and run its business in accordance with these fragmented requirements is extremely high. We have, nevertheless, managed to be very successful at it. As a lawyer, not only do you have to stay on top of all these developments, you also need to be able to translate the legal rules into tangible and comprehensible business requirements and you have to be able to make risk-based judgment calls. This puts you outside your comfort zone sometimes, but it makes the job all the more rewarding.
Some people may be surprised that a gambling company has a legal department. How vital would you say the legal department is for Kindred?
I would say every team or department at Kindred is vital for the business and so is the legal team. I strongly believe in having a full-service, in-house team that understands the business and appreciates our ways of working. What I’m probably most proud of and what I know is not a given at other companies or competitors, is how close the Kindred legal team works with the business. We’re not a team that hides behind legal paperwork or shies away from innovative ideas. We aim to be proactive, have a constructive relationship with all our internal stakeholders and enable the business to achieve its full potential.
What does a lawyer do within Kindred?
We’re definitely not the typical in-house lawyers at Kindred and we aim to be very all-round and full-service towards our internal stakeholders. The legal team is primarily territorially focused and every market has a dedicated legal counsel who acts as the primary point of contact for all legal questions in relation to that market (from contracts to litigation to market watch, etc.). This set-up allows for an integrated, cross-departmental approach where the legal counsel holds a holistic, in-depth overview of the market. In addition, the legal team is experienced in dealing with various legal areas of expertise such as commercial law, intellectual property, corporate law, etc. and they can advise the business on more specialised matters, such as acquisitions or new brand launches. We also have our in-house data protection team, who oversee Kindred’s compliance with data protection and privacy laws under the supervision of our Data Protection Officer.
What would you like to say to someone who has the same work background as you and are interested to work in our industry?
I would highly recommend it to anyone. This industry is by far the most versatile and fastest-growing out there. It’s a dream for a lawyer to be part of. The exposure to various areas of law (gambling law, commercial law, data protection law, anti-money laundering, etc.) and the diverse package of responsibilities we deal with (litigation, contracts, advisory work, licensing) is unique and gives you the ability to become a well-rounded professional in an international environment.
The article mentions that you played “a vital role in championing diversity and inclusion in the company”. Why is this important to you?
With more than 12 nationalities in the legal team and a balanced gender split, I’m very proud of the team we’ve created and the example we set for the industry. The industry has undergone significant changes in recent years and Kindred has definitely played a leading role in this evolution. Embracing diversity has truly elevated us as a legal team and it has prepared us to deal with the challenges of the industry in a more holistic manner.
You moved to New York to establish our office there. What challenges have you met?
Setting up our Legal & Compliance operations in the US at the historic opening of the US market has been an eye-opening and a truly fantastic experience. My experience with our European re-regulation projects has been extremely helpful, but we had to adapt to the American way of doing things. State regulators are still relatively new to the online environment and have their local processes and expectations, which means that we need to adapt our operations accordingly. This can be very cumbersome but our teams are managing it brilliantly. If you add that to the mix of federal, state and tribal laws, you end up with a very complex regulatory framework. From a licensing point of view, we’ve had to meet and disclose an unseen level of transparency, both on a corporate and personal level, but we’ve managed to put a good process in place. The speed of regulatory developments, which is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Europe, and Kindred’s commercial ambition to launch new states definitely keeps the teams very busy and on their toes.
How do you see the future for Kindred in the US?
I believe the most exciting things are yet to come! The last two years have been extremely busy. There are some important states in the pipeline and we will continue to build out and future-proof the teams in the US, so we have a solid basis for the years to come!
See Liv in the Hot 50 2021 list here.