Flutter Entertainment Hires Anti-Gambling Campaigner Tom Watson as Adviser
If you’d told us five years ago that former English Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson would be working for the owners of Paddy Power and Betfair, we would have called you crazy.
But that’s exactly what happened this week, as the former MP joined Flutter Entertainment – owner of Paddy Power Betfair and, after the recent merger, The Stars Group.
An avowed socialist, MP (Member of Parliament) Mr. Watson has been one of the most vocal critics of the gambling industry in the UK for going on a decade.
From this year’s credit card ban to the £2 limit on physical betting terminals or constant parliamentary pressure to reform the country’s Gambling Act 2005 – if a prospective law involved more restrictions on gambling, Tom Watson was probably a prominent supporter of it.
However, the West Bromwich East MP resigned from his role as an MP in 2019 after 18 years on the job. He had frequently and publicly argued with the then Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Race to the Top
In his new advisory role to the Flutter Entertainment board, Mr. Watson will help “lead the industry’s race to the top.”
Despite his compensation for the role being “less than six figures,” according to Flutter, he’ll be making more than his previous £70,000 ($90,000) yearly MP salary.
“In taking on this role in 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,”Tom Watson, former English Labour Party deputy leader, current Flutter Entertainment advisor
“I strongly believe that working collaboratively with Flutter in this way will allow me to continue to drive positive change,” his statement finished.
Mr. Watson was clearly always popular among his former constituents and the wider public, having been re-elected five times as an MP – and winning the deputy leadership election.
But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Watson’s political career has not been without controversy.
In 2017, he put public pressure on London’s Metropolitan Police to investigate then-anonymous claims of historical sex abuse among politicians and other high-up English figures.
However, much of the allegations were based on the testimony of one individual – Carl Beech, who was soon outed as a liar and possessor of indecent images of children himself. Mr. Beech is now in jail for 18 years.
Mr. Watson was forced to distance himself from the whole affair, called Operation Midland, and his wider public profile has never been the same since.
Nevertheless, the addition of a once-household-name anti-gambling campaigner to the world’s biggest gambling operator can only be a good move.
There’s “good intent on both sides,” as Mr. Watson put in his statement.
Flutter’s Chief Executive Peter Jackson was also feeling good about the appointment.
“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. I welcome the opportunity to work with him and hear what he has to say in coming months,”Peter Jackson, Chief Executive, Flutter Entertainment