Tory Member of Parliament Received Gifts and Monetary Incentives in Return for Lobbying in Favour of the Gambling Industry

Daniel Williams

Recently, it has been revealed that a Member of Parliament from the Conservative Party has received incentives worth £32,000 from the UK gambling industry. In return for the cash and freebies that he got from the betting sector, the MP has sent private letters to ministers raising a red flag about the potential impact that the introduction of stricter new laws could have on what he described as “harmful gambling”.

According to reports, Laurence Robertson, a Tory MP for Tewkesbury, gets £2,000 every month from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the trade body representing gambling companies operating in the UK. In 2021, he was also granted free tickets worth thousands of pounds to attend football matches at Wembley Stadium, horse racing at Doncaster Racecourse and Cricket at Lord’s as gifts by the local gambling sector.

The Times revealed that it has accessed a private email sent by the 63-year-old Member of Parliament to the British gambling minister, warning of the risks associated with the implementation of tougher gambling laws. The email was sent at about the time when the latest crackdown of the local gambling sector was announced by the UK Government as part of its ongoing review of the country’s 2005 Gambling Act.

Almost a year and a half after the official announcement of the gambling legislation review, no new legislative measures have been announced by the Government. As Casino Guardian already reported, the latest reports say that the official publication of the Government’s report could be postponed until as late as May 2022.

Laurence Robertson Says Stricter Gambling Laws Would Negatively Affect the Sector

Reports say that Laurence Robertson first sent letters to ministers in September 2020 when there were already restrictions on the number of people permitted to enter racecourses around the country.

At the time, the Member of Parliament called for the then-gambling minister Nigel Huddleston to liberalise the restrictions imposed on horse racing venues. The Times cited an email of his, in which he shared his hopes to see Mr Huddleston relax the restrictions, saying that the tighter rules could seriously affect the employment of many people, along with the revenues brought by the industry to the Exchequer. Robertson MP also said that the restrictions were also likely to hurt the future of spectator sport that could have been cast in much doubt.

After in December 2020 the UK Government announced its decision to review the country’s Gambling Act and the following recommendations for stricter measures such as limits on online stakes and ban on gambling advertising, Mr Robertson addressed Minister Huddleston on House of Commons paper. At the time, he referred to his role as a parliamentary adviser to the Betting and Gaming Council and described the alleged detrimental impact that such restrictions would have on the sector.

According to the Tory MP, the Government’s review should be balanced, and most of all, evidence-led, and must make sure that the millions of people who enjoy gambling as a mere form of harmless entertainment would be able to continue to do so. Laurence Robertson also complained that the country’s gambling regulatory body – the UK Gambling Commission – was conducting its own review of the sector, and the engagement of unveiling more restrictions would lead to a dual regulatory process that could inflict serious harm on the local gambling industry.

In 2021, The Times reported that Mr Robertson MP had called for the Government not to introduce tougher legislation, as stricter rules could make more customers start using the services of some unregulated and illegal gambling companies that operate in the black market. Reports say that, at the time, he was receiving gifts and hospitality at sporting events.

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.

Daniel Williams

Author: Dale Alvarez