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Payday for Davies

The Guardian this week reported on the latest British MP to be taking money on the side from a major gambling firm.

Conservative politician Philip Davies has apparently taken on a £500-per-hour consulting role for Merkur Gaming, the Merkur Group subsidiary responsible for operating Britain’s second-largest network of adult gaming centres.

The 24-hour gaming venues offer slot machines with stake limits set at £2 per spin, and their presence on UK high streets has become increasingly controversial in recent years.

A previous Guardian article, for example, told the story of 64-year-old Wendy Hughes, who lost more than £2,000 over the course of 16 hours, allegedly without centre staff putting sufficient responsible gambling measures in place.

As declared in the latest register of MPs’ interests, Davies’ new consulting gig with Merkur Gaming will see him provide “strategic advice” to the company, earning £1,000 per month for a modest two hours of work.

And Davies is no stranger to taking money from gambling firms, either.

He previously earnt £50,000 in a year for advice provided to Entain, and received in excess of £14,000 worth of hospitality from betting and horse-racing firms over a two-year period.

With the ongoing Gambling Act review appearing to favour high-street operators over their online counterparts, with apparently more favourable rules coming to retail venues, many will be wondering what impact MPs like Davies have had on such decisions.

After all, with the average hourly wage in the UK coming in at around £17, some will be left wondering whether Davies’ insights alone are truly worth their £500 per hour price tag.

Without looking behind the curtain and seeing Davies’ influence on legislation directly, most will be left simply to speculate.

One way or another, it’s likely Merkur will be looking to get a reasonable return on its investment into Davies’ time.

Straight to TV

It seems the world can’t get enough of the recent gambling scandal involving MLB player Shohei Ohtani, as the Daily Mail reported this week that the saga is set to be turned into its very own TV series.

The scandal, which is now expected to see Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara plead guilty to bank fraud and signing a false tax return, has captured the imaginations of sports fans the world over.

Mizuhara will likely be ordered to repay nearly $17m to Ohtani and more than $1m to the IRS.

He won bets totalling more than $142m using stolen funds which he obtained by impersonating Ohtani, but lost around $183m, leaving him with a net loss north of $40m.

And now, according to an initial report from the Los Angeles Times, Lionsgate Television is now working on making a scripted series based on the story.

The show will follow Ohtani’s story as he rose to become one of the world’s most popular baseball players, according to the article, but will also heavily feature the multi-million dollar theft carried out against him by Mizuhara.

It’s not yet clear when or where the new series will become available, but one thing’s for sure. Sports fans around the world will certainly be watching.

A Minnesota mess

Sportscasting brought us a bizarre story from Minnesota this week, as it reported that sports betting in the state “could fail to be legalised this session after a Senator was arrested for burglary”.

Senator Nicole Mitchell was arrested for burglary last Monday and was subsequently removed from her committee and caucus assignments, according to Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy.

Mitchell herself claims that “this entire situation has been blown out or proportion.”

According to her, she was arrested while trying to retrieve her deceased father’s ashes from the house of a relative, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“The situation escalated quickly,” Sportscasting reports, leading to Mitchell being taken in by the police.

The upshot of all this is that the future of Minnesota sports betting now hangs thoroughly in the balance, with Mitchell unable to vote on the legislation in a house which has 33 Republicans on one side, and 33 Democrats on the other.

The legalisation of betting has come to the fore in Minnesota thanks to the efforts of democratic representative Zack Stephenson, the article suggests.

If either of his two betting bills are to be passed, however, he’ll need Republican senators to sign onto it, which creates something of a dilemma.

What happens next remains to be seen, but the situation in Minnesota apparently remains on a knife-edge.

Of all the expected outcomes of Mitchell’s arrest, nobody would have bet on this happening.

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