Betting chief alleged to have donated to UK Labour party

Bet365 gambling boss alleged to have paid a GBP100 000 'thank you' for more relaxed betting laws

The Daily Mail ended the week on a controversial note with an article claiming that Bet365 director and football club owner Peter Coates had paid a "...GBP100 000 'thank you' to Labour after his firm benefited from the controversial decision to relax the [UK] betting laws." The relaxed laws enabled online casinos, bookmakers and betting websites to advertise on TV.

The newspaper described Coates as a director of the online gambling firm Bet365, which it reports is worth around GBP275 million, and as the owner of Premiership football club Stoke City. It goes on to claim that he has "handed over GBP400 000 in five years", vehemently inisisting that he is a lifelong Labour supporter and was not seeking to influence ministers.

Coates's latest donation was made public in the quarterly accounts of the Electoral Commission, which monitors donations to political parties. Hillside (New Media), the company behind Bet365, made a GBP100 000 donation to Labour in June.

In 2007, Labour accepted a donation of GBP150 000 from Bet365 weeks before Gordon Brown scrapped plans for a Las Vegas- style supercasino in Manchester, the Daily Mail claims.

Coates, who built his business empire after starting out supplying catering at football grounds, is also alleged to have handed over GBP50 000 in June 2004 and another GBP100 000 in December 2005 as the Government's proposals for a more enlightened approach to gambling were taking shape.

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