A campaigner for regulatory reform called the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on gaming and betting "ludicrous," and the gaming regulator wasn't pleased, either.
The APPG, which describes itself as a political "go-between" for the sector, is one of hundreds of parliamentary groups under investigation for allegedly being linked to gambling lobbyists. Some of its members have been accused of receiving thousands of pounds of freebies through betting companies. Conor McGinn, Labour MP, was revealed as vice chair of the APPG on Sunday evening. He had resigned over the report and didn't want to be associated.
The AGGP initiated an investigation into the Gambling Commission in January 2013. When the group was asked for its findings, it refused. However, the Guardian has a draft extract of the report.
The draft describes the commission as "in dire need of change." It is too harsh and threatens "the destruction" of one of the most respected gambling industries, which could lead to increased black market activity.
It accuses the UKGC of "acting extra vires [beyond its remit]" in its strategy of trying to reduce the problem gambling population.
The MPs charge the regulator with bullying and causing mental harm in the industry. However, it has taken a harder stance amid growing public concern about gambling addiction.
The government will publish the results from a once in a generation review of gambling laws weeks before this intervention, and the commission is thought to be playing an important role in finalizing proposals.
Several MPs of the APPG have been criticized for accepting gambling industry freebies while promoting them in parliament or the media. This is despite the fact that it is against parliamentary rules.
Scott Benton, a Conservative Party MP, accepted £7,494.60 (just over $10,000) worth of tickets last summer to Ascot and the Euro 2020. The tickets were provided by Ladbrokes, a subsidiary of Entain, and the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), an industry lobby organization.
John Spellar, Labour MP, made trips to Lord's and the Euro 2020 worth £2,835.80 ($4,100), allegedly paid for by Flutter, Paddy Power's owner, and the BGC.
Aaron Bell, Conservative MP and former Bet365 employee, attended three Euro 2020 matches with Entain, Flutter and Gamesys. The tickets were worth £6,955.60 ($9,200). He stated to the Guardian that he had declared all hospitality "quickly and transparently" last year.
McGinn told the Guardian Sunday evening that he did not have any involvement in writing the report. He also stated that he didn't agree or endorse the report. McGinn resigned from this group last week over the incident.
A UKGC spokesperson said that some sections of the gambling industry would never be happy with a regulator pushing for safer gambling. They also stated that the commission would need to "review [the report's] contents" as it hadn't heard from the APPG prior to receiving it.
The spokesperson added, "As the industry regulator, we expect to hear from them in an official capacity to respond to views about the Gambling Commission and put straight inaccurate assumptions, as well as share our regulatory approach."