Rishi Sunak’s turbulent campaign has been engulfed by the gambling scandal in recent weeks, as it emerged that two candidates bet on the timing of the election.

After much pressure and backlash, the Prime Minister removed his support for both candidates. The Gambling Commission is continuing its investigation into what is being dubbed ‘gamblegate’, which further escalated this week.

A Conservative Party spokesman stated: “As a result of ongoing internal enquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as Parliamentary Candidates at the forthcoming General Election.

“We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”

This response was criticised by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who emphasised his belief that it should have happened earlier as soon as the news came to light. 

Shortly after this though, Starmer was forced to stand by his words as Labour candidate Kevin Craig bizarrely bet against himself winning his Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency seat – prompting an investigation from the UKGC. 

Craig said in a statement: “Throughout my life I have enjoyed the odd bet for fun whether on politics or horses.

“A few weeks ago when I thought I would never win this seat I put a bet on the Tories to win here with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities. While I did not place this bet with any prior knowledge of the outcome, this was a huge mistake for which I apologise unreservedly.”

He added: “It is right that the party upholds the highest standards for its parliamentary candidates – just as the public expects the highest standards from any party hoping to serve in government. I deeply regret what I have done and will take the consequences of this stupid error of judgement on the chin.

“I am deeply sorry to the many dedicated and loyal local Labour party volunteers who have been supporting my campaign. I will comply fully with the investigation.”

Most recently, Tory cabinet minister Alister Jack became the latest politician to be embroiled into the scandal as he told the BBC he made over £2,000 betting on the election. 

Jack later retracted the statement and emphasised that he is ‘very clear he never, on any occasion, broken any Gambling Commission rules.”

He continued: “I did not place any bets on the date of the general election during May – the period under investigation by the Gambling Commission.”

With the scandal coming to light so close to the election, one of the challenges remains for both parties is that the ballot papers have largely already been printed, with the removal of candidates not a viable option even if a party withdraws its support for said candidates.

Furthermore, as the integrity of the government has been a vocal point of this election campaign, the issue has resonated with voters – specifically causing further damage to the already volatile campaign of Sunak. 

The whole scandal raises questions around the framework for political betting and what stakeholders are able to bet on. The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, revealed that he believes there is a need for an ‘urgent review’ around the regulations. He said: “The idea that people who had privileged access in No 10 and may well have known the date of the general election, placing a bet when they knew the outcome, that is wrong.”

Labour leader Starmer, however, detailed his belief that the issue isn’t with the rules, but is instead with the politicians that have opted to place bets. 

Amidst varying revelations and statements, it was reported earlier today that a serving Cabinet Minister,  Mel Stride, has gone as far to suggest that MPs should be barred from betting altogether.