In the United Kingdom and a senior Conservative politician has reportedly come under fire after it emerged that he was paid approximately £50,000 ($65,980) to advise prominent iGaming and sportsbook operator GVC Holdings on safer gambling practices.
According to a Thursday report from The Guardian newspaper, Philip Davies serves as the Member of Parliament (MP) for West Yorkshire’s Shipley constituency and worked in the £400-per-hour advisory role from July to September ahead of a government review into the nation’s gambling laws. This job purportedly involved advising the owner of the Ladbrokes and Coral-branded chains of retail sportbetting venues on safer practices although long-standing rules are said to have precluded him from lobbying for the industry in any way.
The newspaper reported that the 48-year-old politician has also been accused of ‘cronyism’ after it emerged that two of his former aides are currently employed by GVC Holdings, which is currently in the process of changing its name to Entain. Sophie Dean, who worked for Davies for five years from 2013, now serves as Head of Safer Gambling and External Affairs for the London-listed giant while the MP’s former parliamentary researcher, Grainne Hurst, is its Chief of Corporate Affairs.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris chairs a cross-party group examining gambling harm and reportedly told the newspaper that ‘it is astonishing’ Davies would have allowed himself ‘to be placed in such a compromising position’. She purportedly asserted that this relationship is all the more concerning after GVC Holdings stated at the time of hiring Hurst earlier this year that she was to help it ‘lead the industry on responsible gambling and develop relationships with the media and external partners’.
Harris reportedly told The Guardian…
“Cronyism is alive and well it seems. This does little to instil public faith in politicians.”
Although Davies has yet to comment on his role with GVC Holdings or the associated criticism directly, the operator is said to have responded by asserting that the role did not involve interactions with Dean as the MP had reported directly to its former Chief Executive Officer, Kenneth Alexander.