British MPs plan to write a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson expressing their concerns that some members of the cabinet have ties to the gambling industry and may oppose proposed stricter regulatory measures aiming to protect gambling addicts.
New Gambling Reforms Proposed by DCMS
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has made up a proposal about new measures that will ban the use of betting logos on soccer players’ shirts and will introduce further taxation that will go towards research into gambling addiction, educational campaigns about the harms of gambling and treatment for addicts. However, Downing Street will make the final decision with some cabinet members such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, parliamentary private secretary Andrew Griffith, and deputy staff chief David Canzini, reportedly being skeptical about the reforms.
MPs have argued that Griffith has ties to The Stars Group, bought by Flutter, which owns Paddy Power, while Canzini has worked with Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, during his time at CT Group. The MPs letter is also going to demand from the cabinet that there must be a high level of transparency regarding all ties, be it direct or indirect, which the cabinet’s advisers may have to the gambling industry.
MPs Enjoying Lavish Benefits from the Gambling Sector
New research by The Guardian, has further revealed that as many as 38 MPs have benefitted from perks offered to them by gambling industry stakeholders during a period of time just before the DCMS drafted its proposal. For example, Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury, has received £13,654 ($16,308) in the form of sports events tickets and has been hired as an advisor to the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC).
Blackpool South MP, Scott Benton, who openly opposed stricter measures on gambling in parliamentary sessions, got tickets worth £9,359 ($11,181) and enjoyed watching the England-Denmark final of Euro 2020. Benton was also involved in a report submitted by MPs from different parties, which directed criticism towards the UK gambling regulator, the Gambling Commission, for introducing stricter measures in order to fight gambling addiction. The report was described as farcical and raised lobbying concerns among activists for tougher regulations on gambling.
The overall estimation stemming from the research is that MPs have received £280,000 ($334,523) in the form of tickets, payments for speaking events, accommodation, etc. from an industry that is estimated to be earning £11 billion ($13.1 billion) a year from UK gamblers. It is further highlighted that some of the MPs, who enjoyed these perks, have opposed tougher regulatory measures on gambling in parliament on the same day they received the benefits or soon after that.