Entain Called Out for Trying To Sway Opinion on the UK’s Gambling White Paper

As the UK was preparing to bring its gambling white paper to the front lines, gaming operators repeatedly showed their support for the reforms. One, however, may have been playing both sides, with Entain facing accusations it tried to manipulate the system.

Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen in a PR photo
Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen in a PR photo. The company is under fire for trying to convince UK gamblers to lobby against the gambling white paper. (Image: EGR Global)

The Guardian reports that Entain may have been building a “dishonest” lobbying campaign heading up to the release of the white paper. The media outlet cites emails it had a chance to review that confirmed the company’s efforts.

Shortly after the government revealed the reforms last month, Players’ Panel began contacting consumers to try to get them to pressure lawmakers to oppose the reforms. The entity appears to be one Entain launched in 2021.

Gaming The Gaming System

Shortly after the white paper arrived, Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen said in a statement, “We look forward to working with the government and the Gambling Commission on evidenced-based consultations and implementation of the proposals outlined today.” At the same time, someone at the company was launching a campaign to reportedly undermine the efforts.

One of the emails The Guardian cited told the reader that the government was going to “limit when and how much you can bet,” adding that this would make it difficult to wager responsibly. Only those on the Players’ Panel’s mailing list reportedly received the email.

The organization then suggested that the recipient contact his or her legislative representative in an effort to roll back some of the reforms. They were even given 10 different email templates from which they could choose how to respond to the “negative step” the white paper presented.

One template called the reforms unfair, while another asserted they were an infringement on freedom. Another targeted the removal of staking limits and affordability checks. Another made sure to point to member of parliament and UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer for her involvement.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the gaming industry – or any industry – lobbying for their wellbeing and survivability, Players’ Panel made an egregious (and possibly intentional) oversight. Nowhere in the email did it specify that it was an Entain-led endeavor.

Gambling Reforms Now Undergoing Reforms

After the UK presented the white paper, the government invited gaming industry insiders and those along the periphery, such as the National Health Service, to provide input. Those channels of communication are now open.

UK Gambling Commission Deputy CEO Sarah Gardner has said that consultations are now underway and that the first result will be published this summer. That’s in keeping with the timeline the government established when it presented the reforms.

Gardner, who made her remarks during the annual conference of the Lotteries Council, cautioned that it could take several years for most of the reforms to be realized. She stressed that the goal was for the regulator, the government and industry players to work together to make sure they “get it right.”

There are still a lot of issues that have to be clarified. Questions about implementation and compliance remain, as well as the timeframes for the introduction of the updated laws.

There is also a belief by some that no further progress will be made until after next year’s government elections in the UK, after which some policies could be scrapped. However, Parliamentary Under Secretary Of State For Sport, Gambling and Civil Society Stuart Andrew is confident that won’t happen.

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