UK: MPs criticised over VIP gifts from gambling industry

The politicians accepted VIP tickets from Entain and Gamesys.
The politicians accepted VIP tickets from Entain and Gamesys.

The Conservative Party MPs Philip Davies and Esther McVey have been accused of being too close to the gambling industry after accepting VIP tickets worth £18,000.

UK.- The Conservative Party MPs Philip Davies and Esther McVey, who are husband and wife, have been criticised by opposition politicians for receiving gifts from major gambling operators, particularly from Entain.

According to the Daily Mirror, Davies, who represents Shipley, and McVey, who represents Tatton in Cheshire, received VIP tickets worth £18,000 in two months, for events ranging from football to horseracing, motorsport and tennis.

They received tickets and hospitality worth £3,450 each for England’s UEFA 2020 European Championship semi-final against Denmark from Entain, and tickets worth £1,537.60 each for England’s final group stage match from Gamesys. Entain also gave the couple two Wimbledon tickers worth £1,100 each on July 5.

The criticism comes as the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport reviews British gambling legislation with a view to making major changes, which are expected to include a prohibition of gambling sponsorship in sport.

The Liberal Democrats in McVey’s Tatton constituency said in a statement: “For a politician who prides herself on being in touch with the working man and woman, and on the side of hard-working, honest citizens, it must have come as a major embarrassment for Esther McVey MP that she has been found out accepting freebies to two major sporting events in June, from a betting company, who are at the forefront of the gambling industry’s attempts to resist changes in the gambling laws.”

It’s not the first time Davies has been criticised for links to the gambling industry. Last year, he and Laurence Robertson, an MP for Tewkesbury, were criticised for accepting advocacy roles for the gambling industry.

Davies had taken up a consultancy role at GVC Holdings (now Entain) to advise on responsible gambling and customer service standards but said he was no longer working with the company.

More recently, John Whittingdale, the government minister in charge of gambling and lotteries and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport became embroiled in a conflict of interest row surrounding his daughter’s work for a lobbying firm.

The Times reported that Alice Whittingdale works for Pagefield, a PR company that works for the current National Lottery operator, Camelot. She joined the firm in 2018 after graduating from university.

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