Betting and Sports Companies Chief Donors to UK MPsSeptember 5, 2017 12:00 pm
Betting and sports firms operating in the UK are the biggest contributors of gifts and hospitality to the country’s MPs, and in 2016 accounted for a third of all donations. Out of a total of 187 donations registered by MPs and derived from UK sources, 58 came from the sports industry, and an additional 19 from betting companies.
In the UK, a Member of Parliament (MP) is obligated to declare any gift or hospitality over the value of £300, and last year Ladbrokes Coral is mentioned 15 times in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, with the range of benefits including trips to horse racing venues, soccer matches, and dinner at the Conservative Party conference.
According to Ladbrokes Coral, such donations are necessary in order to better acquaint MPs with the sports and betting industry, so that any decisions they then take can be made “from a position of knowledge”. This includes controversial “fixed-odds betting terminal” machines located at high street bookmakers, which have been under scrutiny by politicians for some time. Defending its position, a Ladbrokes Coral spokesperson said:
“We employ over 25,000 people, we have a high street presence in nearly every constituency in the land and pay UK taxes of circa £55m per annum. Of course we engage with politicians, we want to make sure that when decisions are taken that affect our 25,000 people, they are done from a position of knowledge.”
Commenting on the issue, Tewkesbury MP Mr Robertson stated that the UK horse racing is largely supported and financially backed by bookmakers, and reducing their income by curtailing the amount staked on FOBTs could ultimately result in the closure of many shops, and a significant contraction in horse race funding.
Meanwhile, topping the list of other businesses making contributions to MPs last year was the Road Haulage Association, followed by the Essex Research Association, All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Lord Wolfson.