Between 60 and 85% of online gambling profits come from those who are considered problem or at-risk gamblers.

The long-awaited “white paper” on gambling law review is due to arrive in the coming months, and it promises to bring our outdated analog gambling laws into the digital age. Online gambling has accelerated the growth of an industry that has benefited as much as any other from the dawn of smartphones, which have effectively put a high-stakes casino in everyone’s pocket.

But unlike a casino or betting shop, where the maximum bets on slot machines are capped, there are no limits on online bets. However, there is overwhelming public consensus to rectify inconsistencies like this, for example by capping online slots at £2 per spin.

Other proposals that share similar levels of support are restrictions on advertising, appropriate affordability checks where deposits exceed £100 a month and more funding for treatment and research through an industry levy administered in a manner independent. Support for these policies cuts across demographics, whether it’s leave or stay, red wall, Tory or Labour. But what will have most alarmed the gaming industry are MPs from all political parties who support the gaming reform agenda.

It’s no surprise, then, that the gaming industry has spent over £100,000 on MP giveaways in the last 6 months alone. Tickets to racing, cricket, Wimbledon, England Euro matches and exclusive awards ceremonies are among the benefits given to MPs. Many of them have been happy to make representations to Parliament on behalf of a sector resistant to meaningful reform.

Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, has received over £7,500 in gaming industry hospitality in the last 6 months alone, including two Euro games in England. Benton chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Betting and Gaming (APPGBG), which includes MP Aaron Bell among its vice-chairs, himself another lucky recipient of over £5,500 in gaming industry hospitality over the past 6 months.

Labor MP John Spellar has had over £2,500 worth of tickets over the same period, despite recently stepping down as APPGBG vice-chairman, along with Labor MP Conor McGinn (another 2 £500 worth of tickets), after the band’s release. of a controversial report that targeted the regulator, the Gambling Commission, for trying to curb problem gambling.

Former APPGBG chairman Tory MP Laurence Robertson received over £10,000 in hospitality from the gambling industry. And with fellow Tory MP Philip Davies (a further £8,500 of ‘hospitality), in addition to enjoying these freebies, they have each been put on installments from the gaming industry worth tens of thousands of pounds a year. Davies charged 124 hours of work for Entain at a rate of £403 per hour.

When a sector faces significant reform, it looks like a case of ‘how to buy a few friends in Parliament while alienating everyone else’. The timing of such frivolity is no coincidence given that the government is in the process of reviewing our gambling laws. But lawmakers should think twice before accepting hospitality from a sector that derives the majority of its profits from people who are harmed.

Between 60 and 85% of online gambling profits come from those who are considered problem or at-risk gamblers. So, any new regulations aimed at reducing gambling-related harms will also reduce the profits of the sector, at least in the short term. For a sector like online gambling which generates £6billion in gross revenue a year – half of which comes from slots – £100,000 in 6 months is a small price to pay for advocacy. Fortunately, so far, the friends the gaming industry has bought are massively more.

As you are here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to help us survive. We deliver progressive and independent media that challenges the hateful rhetoric of the right. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We are not funded by billionaire donors, but rely on readers contributing whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do is not free and we operate with few means. Can you help us by donating as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can do, we really appreciate it – and we’ll make sure your money goes as far as it can go to delivering hard-hitting news.