Bookmakers Ladbrokes appear 15 times in the most recent list of gifts given to MPs by private businesses and individuals, significantly more than any other company in a list dominated by sports and betting companies.
Of 187 donations from British sources, given since the start of 2016, almost a third – 58 – came from sports and betting businesses.
A number of aspects of gambling policy are currently under Government review, not least the controversial, and highly addictive, “fixed-odds betting terminal” machines in high street bookmakers, Ladbrokes Coral, the parent company of those two high street bookmakers told the BBC it wanted MPs to make decisions “from a position of knowledge”.
MPs are required to declare and gifts or hospitality with a value of over £300 in parliament’s register of members’ interests.
Ladbrokes Coral appears 15 times, including trips to Cheltenham races, the FA Community Shield football match at Wembley as well as dinner at the Conservative Party conference.
The group features eight times in the entry of Conservative MP Philip Davies, a former bookmaker and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming, with gifts totalling £3,685.
The single largest donation came from the Road Haulage Association, to Conservative Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, at £22,577, to fund a researcher in Mr Elphicke’s office.
Mr Elphicke said: “The researcher is looking at how we can be ready on day one for Brexit – particularly at the Dover front line.
“This is vital work for both my constituency and the haulage industry. No one wants to see long queues of lorries at Dover.
“In this work the interests of the haulage industry and my constituency are strongly aligned. That’s why we decided to join forces.”
A spokesman for Ladbrokes Coral 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.”
Mr Davies, MP for Shipley and one of the recipients of Ladbrokes’ hospitality, told the BBC: “I am the elected chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Betting and Gaming – and a former bookmaker – so of course I meet with bookmakers.
“It would be rather extraordinary if I didn’t.”
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