By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottinghamshire MP and County Council Leader Ben Bradley has said there is “nothing to see here” after he received a hospitality ticket from a betting firm for the England vs Germany game at Euro 2020.
But a former gambling addict who once lost £20,000 says Mr Bradley set “the wrong example” in accepting the ticket.
The Mansfield MP and Conservative Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council watched on June 29 as the Three Lions won 2-0, seated in a Wembley package worth £1,961.
It came at the expense of Power Leisure Bookmakers, the parent company of Paddy Power and Betfair.
An updated list of the MPs register of interests shows the ticket was accepted on the day of the match before being registered on July 8.
He was one of four politicians to receive a ticket for the game from Power Leisure, alongside one Labour and two other Tory MPs.
Mr Bradley told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there “was nothing to see here” in the acceptance of the ticket and he “largely talked about football” with the bookmakers. He added he has “not been lobbied” by the company.
He said: “As you can imagine we get invited to things all the time and I very rarely take any of them up. Any that I do take up are correctly registered and published for all to see.
“However, politics and work aside, if Putin himself had offered me tickets to watch England vs Germany in a major tournament I’d probably still have gone. I’m a football fan.
“Truth be told I have never even had a work meeting with them, and at the game, we largely talked about football, not work. Not only are there no agreements, we’ve never even talked about it.
“I have expressed views on gambling legislation in the past, and asked written questions about the sector, so I imagine they invited me because of that interest, but I have not been lobbied on this issue by their company.”
But Trent Peek, 30, a former gambling addict who managed to beat his habit five years ago, felt the MP’s actions could be interpreted as “promoting” the betting industry.
The Woodthorpe man lost tens of thousands of pounds, including money for his own honeymoon, and now works with charity GamCare.
He said: “It’s 100 per cent negative, they’re setting the wrong example.
“As individuals, it’s entirely up to them what they do in their own time and what they spend their money on.
“But when they’re taking gifts, it’s just promoting gambling in the public eye.
“They need to know that what they do is very visible to their constituents, and they don’t need to be promoting it more than the gambling companies already are.”
A number of other politicians accepted similar packages from Entain, the company that owns Ladbrokes, priced at £3,457, for the England vs Denmark semi-final.
A separate package worth £1,537.60 from Gamesys, an online bingo and casino company, was given to several MPs for the England vs Czech Republic match.
The Government recently set out plans last year to overhaul the powers of the Gambling Commission and bring in further restrictions on online betting adverts.