British MPs Furious After Gambling Bosses Withdraw from Key Meeting

  • Meeting between gambling chiefs and MPs takes place on September 4
  • Issues relating to the dangers of online gambling will be discussed
  • The CEOs of William Hill, Flutter Entertainment and GVC have all backed out
  • MPs are furious at these withdrawals, labeling them as being “cowardly”
Portrait of young angry man.
MPs are furious after a number of major gambling company CEOs withdrew from a meeting in Westminster. [Image: Shutterstock]

MPs are not happy

Bosses for three of the biggest gambling companies in the United Kingdom have withdrawn from a scheduled meeting with MPs in Westminster.

The MPs are furious at this decision. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the risks associated with gambling online. 

The CEOs of Flutter Entertainment (previously Paddy Power Betfair), GVC Holdings (Ladbrokes owner) and William Hill initially accepted their invitations to this meeting in Westminster. However, each boss subsequently made an excuse as to why they could no longer attend.

The chair for the all-party parliamentary group for gambling harm, Carolyn Harris MP has labeled these withdrawals as being “outrageous.”

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.”

Harris went on to say that the men are running scared and that their decision to withdraw from the meeting is extremely cowardly. 

Initial withdrawals

The first CEO to withdraw from the meeting was GVC Holdings head Kenneth Alexander, according to The Guardian. This was two days after Harris copied Alexander in an email from a problem gambler. 

This gambler wanted the MPs to question the GVC boss on his claims that Ladbrokes Coral allowed him to lose tens of thousands of pounds even though he was showing clear signs of gambling addiction. 

Of course, there is no suggestion that this email was the reason for Alexander’s withdrawal. According to a GVC spokesperson, the withdrawal was due to “business commitments.” The spokesperson went on to say that Alexander would go to a different hearing taking place in the House of Lords.

Not even a day after Alexander’s withdrawal, William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock, said he would not be attending due to

commitments around licensing in the UK and some shareholder meetings.”

William Hill plans to send Phil Walker to the meeting instead, who is the managing director for online betting in Ireland and the UK. 

Subsequent withdrawal

Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment, originally confirmed his attendance. However, a week after the withdrawal of Bowcock and Alexander, he said he would have to cancel as a result of “unforeseen travel.”

The company will instead be sending the chief executive for the Betfair and Paddy Power European operations, Dan Taylor.

Issue rumbling on

The non-attendance of these key CEOs will see further scrutiny reign down upon them and the companies they represent. 

Former Conservative party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, spoke about how the non-attendance of the CEOs “speaks volumes about their complicity” following reports that their companies were hounding those with gambling problems to continue gambling. 

Betfred founder and CEO Fred Done will not be attending the meeting, but he did not initially accept the invitation due to having a prior engagement. The CEOs of Bet365 and SkyBet are set to attend the meeting on September 4 in Westminster.