As the UK gambling industry is preparing for a thorough revision of the 2005 Gambling Act, many began to worry about the fairness of the upcoming review. One of the reasons for these worries was the recent reveal of several MPs receiving various incentives from major gambling companies. Some argue that this could be in favour of operators who may be affected by potential stricter regulations in the UK gambling market.
Other news from the gambling industry in the UK from last week involved the former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan. As it became clear last week, Jordan is a part of a company that joined the bid for the acquisition of the major software company Playtech.
MPs Receive Expensive Gifts as the Gambling Act Review is Approaching
A couple of weeks ago it became clear that quite a few MPs have received job offers and various expensive gifts from gambling companies. While these acts could not be deemed as illegal, many began questioning the true intentions of the brands offering such benefits to politicians involved in the upcoming Gambling Act review.
Recent reports revealed that Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury, has received tickets for various sporting events, with the total worth of these gifts estimated to be £16,000. The tickets have been received for sporting events held ever since the 2019 election. Data from the reports show that most of the expensive tickets were gifted by a gambling organisation.
According to an investigation carried out by Gloucestershire Live, in just two years, Robertson enjoyed a total of 13 free tickets for different sporting events. The report revealed that seven of these tickets were gifted by gambling operators, with their total worth exceeding £12,406. The same media outlet also reported Robertson mainly receiving tickets for horse racing events.
In addition to attending horse races for free, the MP also enjoyed tickets and hospitality to the Euro 2020’s encounter between England and Denmark, with the total cost of these incentives being £3,457. This gift was granted to Robertson by the giant gambling operator Entain. The MP in question also received quite the generous gifts from organisations like the Betting and Gaming Council as well as the Qatar Ministry of Sports and Culture.
Robertson, however, is not the only MP who enjoyed expensive incentives from companies and organisations involved in the UK gambling industry. Last week, it was revealed that nine members of the Labour Party and 19 of the Tories have received some type of incentives from gambling operators during the months following August 2020. All of the gifts given to the 28 MPs amounted to £224,281 and were added to the register of members’ financial interest.
Many are questioning the intentions of gambling companies as they seem to make generous gifts as a way to win over important MPs. According to The Guardian, prior to attending a Euros football game, Tory MP Scott Beton criticized the harsh anti-gambling regulations imposed by the UK government. The ticket for the football match in question was a gift from the operator Entain. Meanwhile, MP John Spellar shared his support for casinos just after attending a match between England and Germany, with the said ticket being gifted by Paddy Power. Such signs of generosity are somewhat concerning as many believe that this is a tactic used by gambling companies to earn the support of key-role MPs.
Former F1 Boss Enters Competition for Playtech’s Acquisition
Last week, it became clear that another company will join the bidding process for the acquisition of the software giant Playtech. One of the reasons why this was huge news was that Eddie Jordan, former team owner of F1, is a part of the new company participating in the bid.
The third company that made a proposal for the acquisition of the major gaming developer is competing against Gopher and Aristocrat. The former is known to be the second-biggest Playtech shareholder, while the latter is a major slot machine company based in Australia.
Prior to the new proposal, Playtech reported that it was approached by JKO Play Limited, which is a consortium overseen by Jordan and a former executive of Scientific Games. The company requested information on Playtech’s due diligence, indicating interest in the bidding process. According to a report by Sky News, Jordan has joined forces with Centerbridge, a US-based private equity group. Their proposition is expected to exceed £3 billion, surpassing Aristocrat’s current offer of £2.7 billion.
Out of the three bidders, currently, only Aristocrat has received permission to legally operate on the US market. This may play a major role in Playtech’s decision as the US is expected to become the world’s largest betting market.