The appointment of former Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson as its new corporate adviser on safer gaming and further directives on corporate social responsibility has been confirmed by Flutter Entertainment.
Watson, who resigned from the Labour Party last November before the UK’s Snap Election after a public uproar with former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, is regarded as a leading UK gambling industry reformist.
Before his resignation, Watson had drafted proposals for a radical reform of the UK gambling industry, in which he called for the government to introduce a ‘gambling ombudsman’ to track gambling experiences with customers.
CEO Peter Jackson of the Flutter Group said: “We have to work harder than ever before to find a way to continue to bring great products and brands to our customers while always having the need to protect the vulnerable clearly in mind.
“Tom will hold a mirror up to help us make sure we are getting this balance right and I welcome the opportunity to work with him and hear what he has to say in coming months.”
Watson was critical of the industry ‘s relationship with football during his time as Labour deputy leader, arguing that it was swamping TV viewers with betting advertisements and sponsorships. In addition, the MP called on licenced UK betting companies to devote £ 100 million to research on problem gambling rehabilitation, a directive followed by Flutter, William Hill, bet365 and GVC Holdings.
Leaving public office, Watson succeeded in persuading cross-party MPs to ensure that the ‘2005 Gambling Act’ will be reformed in favour of customers over industry arguing that ‘UK gambling laws were no longer fit for a digital age’
Watson, who says he has had a ‘long-standing interest in the industry,’ previously warned betting leadership that ‘deep cultural change was needed to deliver a purposeful industry.’
Watson said, in reflecting on joining Flutter: “I intend to get under the bonnet of the business – and the industry more widely – to understand how best to further develop and implement industry-leading responsible gambling policies. I strongly believe that working collaboratively with Flutter in this way will allow me to continue to drive positive change.”
We have appointed Tom Watson, a vocal advocate for gambling reform, as an advisor to bring his expertise and challenge to the business as we continue our commitment to lead a race to the top in safer gambling best practice. Full details here: https://t.co/Zo1XkEX4YU
— Flutter plc (@FlutterPLC) September 17, 2020