Flutter Entertainment has confirmed the appointment of former Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson as its new corporate advisor on safer gambling and further corporate social responsibility directives.
Watson, who resigned from the Labour Party last November ahead of the UK’s Snap Election following a public fallout with former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, is recognised as a leading reformist of the UK gambling sector.
Prior to his resignation, Watson had drafted plans for a radical overhaul of the UK gambling industry, in which he called for the government to adopt a ‘gambling ombudsman’ to monitor consumer activity of gambling interactions.
Flutter Group CEO Peter Jackson 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.”
During his tenure as Labour deputy leader, Watson was critical of the industry’s relationship with football, stating that it was swamping TV audiences with betting advertising and sponsorships. Furthermore, the MP called for licensed UK betting firms to donate £100 million to problem gambling treatment research – a directive taken up by Flutter, William Hill, bet365 and GVC Holdings.
Leaving public office, Watson was successful in persuading cross-party MPs to ensure that the ‘2005 Gambling Act’ would be reformed for the benefit of consumers over business stating that ‘UK gambling laws were no longer fit for a digital age’
Watson, who maintains that he has always had a ‘long-standing interest in the sector’, had previously warned betting leadership that ‘deep cultural change was needed in order to deliver a purposeful industry’.
Commenting on joining Flutter, Watson said: “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.”