The Players’ Panel, created by Ladbrokes owner Entain, criticised for giving false impression of grassroots campaign

A plan to amplify the positive side of betting via a handpicked group of customers has hit controversy, amid racist social media posts and allegations of similarity to controversial “astroturfing” campaigns.

Last month, Ladbrokes owner Entain launched an initiative called the Players’ Panel with the help of CT Group, the political consultancy run by Lynton Crosby, a former adviser to Boris Johnson and Theresa May.

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