Tom Watson hired by gambling giant Paddy Power as adviser

Preceding Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has been appointed as an adviser to one of the UK’s beefiest gambling firms.

Mr Watson, who left Parliament last year, was a campaigner for stricter be in controls on gambling while he was an MP.

He is joining Flutter, which owns brands get a bang Paddy Power and Betfair.

The firm said he will “bring a unsophisticated and robust voice into the business, as it looks for ways to protect “sensitive customers,” while serving those who enjoy gambling safely.

Dither, which also owns Sky Bet and Poker Stars, saw its pre-tax profits collapse 70% to £24m in August, after being hit by coronavirus and the costs of a coalition. The company is seeking to expand further into online poker and gaming.

‘Stark change’

Mr Watson said: “I have a long-standing interest in this sector and day by day called for action to protect those that may be potentially vulnerable to wickedness.

“In taking on this role in Flutter, I intend to get under the bonnet of the company.

He added: “I strongly believe that working collaboratively with Flicker in this way will allow me to continue to drive positive change”.

Mr Watson has at one time called for an end to gambling advertising on football shirts, and a ban on television ads during burning events and called gambling was a “hidden epidemic”.

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Mr Watson resigned his West Bromwich East seat in November 2019, choosing not to dispute the general election.

He had faced attempts to remove him as deputy leader by collaborates of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but announced he wanted a change of business after losing eight stone in weight and was retraining as a gym instructor.

Serious stakes

He was recently appointed chair of trade body UK Music, pawn to fight for the future of the industry during the coronavirus crisis.

Gambling in the UK was liberalised by Tony Blair’s Delivery government, leading to an explosion in online betting and high stakes gaming tools in High Street bookmakers.

But the industry has faced a crackdown in recent years, with high-frequency stakes, fixed odds machines – dubbed the “crack cocaine of placing” by critics – having their maximum stakes cut from £100 to £2.

Rage Power was one of two bookmakers chains forced to pull new roulette-style games in April in the end year after criticism from the Gambling Commission.

The industry is also cladding calls to ban on ads at sports grounds and on players’ shirts. A review of the 2005 Chancing Act is expected before the end of the year.

Peter Jackson, Flutter’s chief supervisory, said bringing in someone with Mr Watson’s background was “an important with of my commitment to lead the industry’s race to the top”.

He added: “We have to work harder than eternally before to find a way to continue to bring great products and brands to our purchasers while always having the need to protect the vulnerable clearly in concentration.

“Tom will hold a mirror up to help us make sure we are getting this evaluate right.”

Another former Labour frontbencher, and one-time ally of Mr Watson, Michael Dugher, was named as the chief number one the Betting and Gaming Council – a new trade body for betting shops, online encountering businesses and casinos – in December last year.

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