A group of MPs have hit out at the “outrageous” withdrawal of gambling chiefs from a scheduled meeting on the dangers of online betting, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The three leaders from GVC (Ladbrokes Coral Gala), William Hill and Flutter Entertainment (formerly known as Paddy Power Betfair) have all given excuses within the past couple of days as to why they cannot attend the committee meeting.
The consecutive cancellations were branded as “outrageous” by the Labour MP and chair of the all parliamentary group for gambling harm, Carolyn Harris.
In an excoriating attack on the gambling bigwigs, she said:
“These are men who run companies that feed addiction, amass vast profits from the vulnerable and take home huge pay packets, yet they are too afraid to appear before MPs.
They seem to think they have better things to do than to explain their actions publicly. They are running scared and their actions are cowardly in the extreme.”
In what seems like quite a curious coincidence, let’s take a look at each CEO’s reason for no longer attending the meeting, important for no other reason than the optics for the company’s involved.
Kenny Alexander, Chief Executive of GVC
The leader of GVC, known for brands like Gala, Foxy, Ladbrokes and Coral, was the first to cancel his commitments. The Guardian, in their report, stated that Alexander had become involved in an email chain from a problem gambler to MPs about how Ladbrokes Coral had enabled him to lose £10,000+ while gambling on their websites. This was in spite of the fact that the business should have noticed what were problem gambling tendencies.
GVC, of course, deny this, instead citing business commitments for the change of plan.
Philip Bowcock, Chief Executive at William Hill
Bowcock announced that due to ongoing “commitments around licensing in the UK and some shareholder meetings” that he would not be able to attend. The company announced they would send another Phil, Phil Taylor the managing director of online betting in the UK & Ireland in his stead.
Peter Jackson, Chief Executive at Flutter Entertainment
Jackson, who was the last of the big three to pull out, said that he could no longer make the commitment due to “unforeseen travel.” Dan Taylor, Chief Exec of European Operations will attend in his stead.
The former leader of the Conservative Party gave an equally damning indictment of the CEOs’ commitment to better practice. He said:
“At a time when evidence shows that gambling companies have hounded problem gamblers to get them to carry on gambling, in contravention of their previous assurances, these CEOs now refuse to attend the APPG.
Their non-attendance speaks volumes about their complicity and they should be condemned for not being prepared to change their ways.”
In MPs’ good books are the CEOs of SkyBet and Bet365, who still intend to go to the meeting in Westminster on Wednesday 4th September. Just about avoiding trouble is Fred Done, BetFred’s supreme leader and namesake. Although he is not attending the meeting, he never accepted the invitation due to previous engagements.