Betting and Gaming Council and UK MPs raise £13,500 for Charity Through Horse-Racing bets
The Betting and Gaming Council, the only UK industry body for the gambling industry, has carried out a successful lobbying stunt while raising a lot of money for charity at the same time. Taking advantage of the opportunity to work with one of the most significant sporting events in the UK, the Grand National, the Council worked with Members of the UK Parliament on a charity campaign, which successfully raised £13,500 for various good causes. The campaign comes in the wake of several scandals and controversial events which put UK betting and gaming in the spotlight and caused some issues for popular UK betting sites.
As part of the charity event, the Betting and Gaming Council invited 40 UK MPs to place a bet on a horse of their choosing at the Grand National. The caveat was that, instead of taking advantage of the comfort of their favourite betting site and placing their bet online, the MPs had to attend at a retail betting shop and place a physical bet, in person. Naturally, this was followed by publicity and media activity, and one of the purposes of the stunt was to raise awareness around UK betting and gaming, and all the ways land-based bookmakers contribute to the UK economy. The Betting and Gaming Council is very vocal about the fact that UK betting sites, bookmakers, and gaming providers contribute £4,2bn to the UK economy and fund 42,000 jobs.
Speaking about the event, the Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:
“I want to pay tribute to all the thousands of people who work in betting shops to help support hard-pressed high streets and local economies; it was great to see MPs from across the political divide – more MPs than ever before – visiting bookies across the country supporting more good causes than ever before.”
Amongst the 40 UK MPs were Labour Shadow Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Minister Alex Davies-Jones, Minister for Levelling Up Dehenna Davison, Enterprise Minister Kevin Hollinrake, COP26 President Alok Sharma, and former Secretary for Education Sir Gavin Williamson. The Betting and Gaming Council noted that this was the first time so many MPs from across the whole political spectrum took part in an event like this. The arrangement with popular UK bookmakers was that the MPs would pick a horse each, and any winnings would go to a charity of the MPs choice. Should the horse fail to bring any winnings, the leading UK bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Coral, Ladbrokes, Betfred, and William Hill agreed to donate £250 to the nominated charity. Some of the charities that MPs picked include Age UK, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and regional food banks.
An MP who did not take part in the event for obvious reasons is the currently suspended Scott Benton, who recently made the news and is now under investigation. Benton was filmed by undercover journalists who pretended to be the representatives of a gambling firm. During the conversation, Benton offered to lobby for the betting firm if they paid him. According to Benton, however, he felt unsure about the situation and went to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner prior to knowing the true identity of the journalists and that they do not actually represent real betting sites.
The charity event organised by the Betting and Gaming Council comes after a series of news concerning the UK betting industry and the delayed White Paper on UK gambling. Most significantly, all English Premier League clubs agreed to stop advertising betting sites on the front of their matchday shirts after significant pressure from the UK government. Industry experts suggest that the prestige League was told to reject the 8-figure sponsorship deals from bookmakers and betting sites, or risk being hit with even stronger measures which might include bans on working with betting providers altogether. Meanwhile, the Christian charity CARE, which is a pronounced opponent of any form of betting and gaming, has released statistics from a survey it carried out, suggesting that UK TV viewers think that there are too many ads for betting sites and bookmakers during live football events, and that such ads need to be regulated by a Government body. Significant media coverage has also been given to a proposed mandatory levy on the betting industry which would be used to fund the services that work with bettors who have experienced harm from betting and gaming. All these issues are expected to be covered in the White Paper which is due any day now.