Fancy a Freebie for the Rugby?

It’s been revealed that an MP who has spoken out against gambling, accepted a free ticket to see Wales play England in the Six Nations. The ticket was given to him by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

It wasn’t just a ticket to see the match that Kevin Brennan, the Labour MP for Cardiff West received. There as hospitality included, bringing the value of the package to £1,115. The figure was included in the register of MP’s interests.

Brennan has in the past been highly critical of the UK Government over their policies regarding gambling. In 2018, he was extremely upset over a decision to delay measures to reduce maximum stakes.

He felt that this delay was a “betrayal” of his ministerial colleagues and two predecessors as Secretary of State. Not just that but it was also a betrayal of “the victims and their families, whose lives have been blighted by gambling addiction.”

The MP also spoke in Parliament about gambling two years ago. He told MPs how his father used to enjoy a “weekly 10 bob Yankee” but would be “appalled” by the current “sheer volume of advertising” and what he called “dodgy practices” employed by bookmakers against “vulnerable people.”

Later that year he also laid out what he wants the UK Government’s review into gambling to do. He called for the review to “produce an outcome that maximises the fun for people who want to gamble but minimises the harm.”

Yet he still accepted the freebies from the BGC who do not see eye to eye with many of the views of politicians. The BGC do though share his opinion the view that betting can be an enjoyable experience, but gamblers need to be protected, though in a way that does not ruin that enjoyment.

One view the BGC don’t agree with is that of the all-party group on Gambling Related Harm. They have told the UK Government that the maximum stake for slot machines should be just £2. They have also called for VIP schemes to end, and a ban be placed on all sponsoring of sport by gambling companies.

Michael Dugher is the Chief Executive of the BGC and has described those demands as “draconian, arbitrary measures.” He’s written that it is a case of telling people what they should be allowed to spend their money on. “Can you imagine the middle-class outcry if supermarkets couldn’t do special offers on a bottle of wine?” wrote Dugher.

Just what the UK Government has planned for the gambling industry is due to be revealed in May. A sponsorship ban and more affordability checks are believed to be likely to be included in the White Paper.