The company supporting a lobby group seeking to overturn the planned overhaul of the UK gambling laws and claims to be acting on behalf of regular punters turned out to be owned by a consultant for the country’s gambling industry.
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, British lawmakers proposed a series of changes in April 2023 in an effort to make the country’s gambling sector more fair, transparent and safe for consumers by imposing stricter regulations on gambling licensees, especially ones in the thriving online gambling industry. Despite that, the country’s gambling regulatory body – the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) – has noted that further consultation on the proposals was necessary before a bill could be put before the Parliament for a vote.
The Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF), which claims to be representing regular British gamblers, has criticised the proposed changes, and more specifically, the stricter affordability checks outlined in the Government’s White Paper on gambling. The organisation also criticised some “misinformation” in the discussion regarding gambling-related harm and gambling addiction, and further claims that the debate has been heavily politicised.
However, recent reports in the Guardian found that the Gamblers Consumer Forum has links to politics, and to a veteran consultant for the gambling industry in particular. The media experts and analysts described the materials on the group’s website as “misleading”.
Gamblers Consumer Forum Says Industry Is Politicised and Criticised UKGC Proposed Legislative Changes
At the time of writing, the website of the GCF claims that the group is run by two individuals. The first one of them is Andrew Woodman who serves as Andrew Bridgen’s parliamentary assistant, a Member of Parliament who was previously expelled from the Conservative Party. The other is Abbie MacGregor, a PhD student in neuroscience, who was once a candidate for the Conservative council.
However, according to Companies House records, Mr Woodman and Ms MacGregor co-own the company that stands behind the Gamblers Consumer Forum with Stephen Donoughue, a veteran consultant for the betting sector offering advice to firms that hope to be granted a gambling licence. Donoghue also spent 15 years as a secretary of a cross-party group of Members of Parliament lobbying in favour of the gambling industry.
The company behind the GCF was established in May 2023, only two months before the official launch of the Gamblers Consumer Forum. The Guardian then decided to make a test donation to the campaign, and after doing so, AAS Communications’ name appeared on the receipt. Mr Donoghue’s involvement is not yet disclosed anywhere on the official website of the group, when the group requests the public for donations. So far, he has refused to make comments on the issue.
As mentioned above, the Gamblers Consumer Forum claims that it plans to speak to Government apartments, parliamentarians, and various groups and thinktanks interested in gambling. It has criticised gambling in the UK, saying that it has been politicised, and has pledged to fight misinformation regarding problem gambling.
According to prominent statistics on the GCF website, 99.8% of adult citizens in the UK gamble without an issue. However, data unveiled as a result of the NHS Health Survey claims that only about half of British adults gamble at all, and only about 1.7% of the ones who do so are categorised as moderate-risk gamblers or gamblers who already experience gambling-related harm.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.