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MP investigated as IPSO rejects bookies complaint against The Times

Campaign for Fairer Gambling

3 min read Partner content

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling writes following an Independent Press Standards Officer (IPSO) investigation into newspaper articles on gambling and addiction.

The Press Gazette recently reported on a decision by the Independent Press Standards Officer (IPSO) on a complaint by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) against three aspects of reporting in multiple articles in The Times. The ABB complained about comments related to naltrexone, a drug for gambling treatment addiction, and the use of the terms “gambling epidemic” and “money-laundering

The Times admitted that there had been an error in explaining the naltrexone costs and immediately corrected this under its usual corrections policy. The IPSO accepted this admission and correction, however, IPSO rejected the ABB complaints regarding the use of the terms “gambling epidemic” and “money laundering”.

Also in The Times, an article headlined “MP’s deal with bookmaker to be investigated” referred to Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley. Mr Davies allegedly enjoys the privilege of favourable account terms from Ladbrokes, which he did not declare. As Justice for Punters will tell you, they do not get the same terms as Mr Davies, but they are not MPs advocating for the bookies!

Mr Davies is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gambling, which conducted a series of seminars and produced a glossy brochure, containing seminar speeches on the “Future of Betting and Gaming”. Mr Davies explains in the foreword, that this brochure will be circulated to parliamentarians.

In his brochure, he does not disclose the hospitality he enjoyed from bookmakers last year, to the tune of £3,000, as reported in Private Eye. Neither does he disclose his favourable terms Ladbrokes account. Nor does he disclose that his group was unwilling to allow problem gamblers to attend the seminars, nor that anyone who opposes FOBTs was not invited to speak.

This brochure could not possibly give the full picture of the “future”, as it did not cover the pending Newham Council proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act to reduce the maximum FOBT stake per spin from £100 to £2, which the Government is obliged to try to reach agreement on.

Speakers were arranged by Steven Donoghue, the “unpaid” secretariat who has a history of consultancy for the bookies and KPMG. The ABB has also provided a “confidential” KPMG document to the Government, arguing the bookies’ FOBT economics case for them. Maybe the reason that it is “confidential” is that it applies similar self-serving standards of previous ABB reports?

Malcolm George, the CEO of the ABB, one of the seminar speakers, quotes from the KPMG report as if it is fact. However, he also claims that betting shops are the safest places to gamble on the high street. The failure of the ABB to impress the IPSO with their complaints against The Times’ use of the terms “gambling epidemic” and “money laundering”, questions the validity of comments by Mr George.

Mr Davies claims that The Times writer is “a second rate journalist peddling an agenda for his friends at the Campaign for Fairer Gambling”. Mr Davies must think he is a first-rate politician, peddling an agenda for his friends the bookies, enjoying financial benefits whilst doing so and not declaring all those benefits, because everyone already knows about his bias!

There have been multiple calls for his suspension as referred to by the Campaign on PoliticsHome. Perhaps the Campaign's interest is best served though, if the bookies’ champion in parliament is a toxic MP?

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