Tory MP successfully lobbied minister on behalf of casino over gambling laws

Conservative MP Philip Davies lobbied the government on behalf of a casino to introduce a measure that was later included in last week’s white paper on gambling.

The Shipley, West Yorkshire MP wrote to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer in February after being entertained at the luxury Les Ambassadeurs casino in Mayfair, central London.

He asked Frazer, who was overseeing the reorganization of gambling laws, to make changes that would allow casinos to offer lines of credit to players, including “ultra-high net worth foreign visitors” who played at the tables of Les Ambassadeurs.

This change was later included in the government’s white paper on gambling reform.

In his letter, Davies at one point referred to the casino’s revenue as “our” revenue.

“I should also add that they are the only operator contributing a market leading 1% of our gross gaming performance. [an industry measure roughly equivalent to revenue] to GambleAware,” he wrote.

When repeatedly asked by The Guardian whether this apparent error was the result of reproducing material provided to him by the casino, Davies did not reply.

Les Ambassadeurs said it had briefed Davies on the credit issue and had also “provided information to help inform his letter.”

Davies declined to provide an official statement, but told the Guardian that he had written to Frazer because he agreed that Les Ambassadeurs should be able to give credit.

Your registration in the register of interests does not include any remuneration from Les Ambassadeurs and it is understood that you have not received any.

Les Ambassadeurs confirmed that they had hosted him for a tour on January 25 and had enjoyed a meal at the club, whose website boasts of its excellent dining options. Members of Parliament do not have to declare hospitality below the value of £300.

The letter to the culture secretary from Davies, a long-time gambling supporter who was paid £50,000 working for Ladbrokes owner Entain, was revealed in response to a freedom of information request from the Good Law Project.

Jolyon Maugham, founder of the Good Law Project, said: “Why do the interests of the gaming industry always seem to trump the public interest, here the proper safeguards?

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“Sometimes you wonder who the Conservative Party is in government for, the public or the gaming industry?”

The government published a series of reforms last week that generally cracked down on online gambling, but relaxed restrictions on land-based casinos. While some activists welcomed the revision of laws passed under Tony Blair’s government in 2005, the white paper drew criticism for failing to limit publicity and for subjecting many of its key proposals to a year-long consultation.

Davies has long advocated for the gaming industry in parliament and has also been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the industry’s £10bn a year money spent on politicians.

As well as earning £50,000 in a year advising Entain, he has received up to £14,713.60 in hospitality from betting and horse racing firms over the past two years, including days at Ascot and cricket test matches.

Davies recently became co-chairman of the multi-party parliamentary group on betting and gaming after his predecessor, Scott Benton, was suspended pending an investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

Benton was filmed by undercover reporters for the Times offering to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry for up to £4,000 per month.

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