By Ricki Chavez-Munoz
The report by Rob Davies and Richard Partington in yesterday’s edition of The Guardian newspaper paints a clear picture of the darker side of Conservative politics and the gambling industry, placing MPs Philip Davies and Laurence Robertson under the employ of bookmakers Ladbrokes owner, GVC, and the Betting and Gaming Council (BCG),
For the tory members of parliament, getting paid for so called consultancy gigs might be a bit clever, but for GVC it should not be so. The company should remember that in the late 70s all Ladbroke casinos in Great Britain were closed down for improper conduct when using Police vehicle registration files to target potential high net worth individuals or “big punters” to lure to their casinos.
“Two Conservative MPs have accepted jobs with the gambling industry worth tens of thousands of pounds before a government review of betting laws, the Guardian can reveal,” commented The Guardian. “The Ladbrokes owner, GVC, paid Philip Davies £33,320, or £396 an hour, for “providing advice on responsible gambling and customer service,” according to parliamentary disclosures.”
Now, parliamentary disclosures are the way out for MPs to report monies gained from shady dealings and otherwise, and until they are made public and under scrutiny, no one is the wiser, let alone the constituents they represent.
Davies, “accepted the first instalment of the money on 27 August but did not step down as a member of the select committee for digital, culture, media and sport – the department managing the forthcoming review of gambling regulation – until this week.
“Fellow Tory MP Laurence Robertson will be paid £2,000 for 10 hours a month working for the Betting and Gaming Council (BCG), a job he started on 1 October.
In the more modestly paid role, equivalent to £24,000 a year, he will serve as the BCG’s parliamentary adviser on sport and safer gambling.”
The question to both GVC and the BCG must be, what could such characters bring to the table on the matter of responsible gambling and customer service that other more experienced professionals could not?
According to the BCG, Davies had advised “on a range of safer gambling and customer protection initiatives”, owing to his background as a bookmaker. The question I have to add is whether Davies is a supreme specialist on safer gambling or client protection.
As the UK prepares to review gambling regulations, it is not difficult to assume that the MPs with gambling company jobs would not lobby against tough regulations on behalf of the £14 billion-a-year industry.
Opposition Labour MP Carolyn Harris, a leading advocate for gambling reform, said: “Laurence Robertson and Philip Davies are the two people who’ve spoken out most in support of the industry. There’s a conflict of interest here, isn’t there?”
Conflict of interest is a mild way of putting it. It is said that Money is the source of corruption, and that money paid as consultancy fees to elected officials is a disguise for bribery. When there is conflict of interest, the interest is on the side of the money, and no advice on safer gambling and customer protection will stand in the way of money.