MPs McVey and Phillips criticised for betting industry links

Conservative Party MPs and husband and wife Philip Davies and Esther McVey have been criticized by Liberal Democrats in the latter’s constituency of Tatton, Cheshire, for closeness to the betting and gaming industry.

Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

It was revealed by the Daily Mirror this morning that the MPs received £18,000 in free VIP tickets to events from private firms within a two month timeframe, including sporting events such as horse racing, motorsport, football and tennis events.

The duo declared tickets worth £1,537.60 each from Gamesys to attend England’s final group match of the UEFA 2020 European Championship.

However, most of the pair’s hospitality was paid for by Entain, which supplied tickets and hospitality for two major sporting events for the two MPs – England’s semi-final victory against Denmark in Euro 2020, with each ticket worth £3,450 each, as well as two £1,100 tickets to Wimbledon were also supplied the week before on 5 July.

A statement critical of McVey released by the Tatton Liberal Democrats said: “For a politician who prides herself on being in touch with the working man and woman, and on the side of hard-working, honest citizens, it must have come as a major embarrassment for Esther McVey MP that she has been found out accepting freebies to two major sporting events in June, from a betting company, who are at the forefront of the gambling industry’s attempts to resist changes in the gambling laws.”

The Tatton Liberal Democrats criticism of McVey follows on from reports after the aforementioned Euro 2020 tournament detailing ticket and hospitality packages given to MPs by betting operators

In addition to the Tatton and Shipley MPs, Scott Benton MP, the Conservative Party representative for Blackpool South, received a total of £7,500 in tickets and hospitality to football, tennis and horse racing events from gaming firms.

Benton also received tickets to attend England’s European fixtures, attending the Three Lions group stages clash against the Czech Republic using a £1,537.60 ticket provided by Gamesys, whilst also being gifted a £1,100 Wimbledon ticket from Entain.

Overall, 65 Conservative MPs declared free tickets worth a total of £160,000 between May and July, whilst 23 Labour MPs received £31,921 in ticketing and hospitality in the same time period. 

The criticism levied at the MPs comes as the UK government and UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) moves ahead with its review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which has seen connections between the sports and betting industries come under increasing scrutiny.

A prohibition of sponsorship arrangements between sports teams and gambling operators has been identified as a likely outcome of the report, and reportedly has the support of PM Boris Johnson and his cabinet.

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