Flutter Entrainment has this morning announced an update of its safer gambling commitments within the Republic of Ireland.
As the operating company of Paddy Power, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker (retail and online), Flutter stated that it has chosen to ban credit card transactions and will further implement a whistle-to-whistle TV advertising ban across all sports programming.
In addition, the firm will donate 1% of Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) to support Ireland’s education and treatment of problem gambling and has set a target of raising €3 million by 2023. Prior to the announcement, the firm had already contributed roughly £450,000 to Ireland’s Gambling Awareness Trust.
Flutter’s decision to update its safer gambling commitments comes ahead of the implementation of imminent regulatory changes by the Dáil. The legislature is set to revise a new gambling advertising bill put forward by the Irish Labour Party last week.
Last December, legislators finally approved the delayed passing of the ‘interim Gaming and Lotteries Act’, a bill establishing the foundations for a planned sweeping reform of the nation’s gambling laws in 2021.
“We welcome the Irish Government’s commitment to introducing gambling regulation during its lifetime”, said Conor Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Flutter UK and Ireland. “But gambling operators must act responsibly without being required to do so.”
“We recognise that gambling has undergone a technological transformation over the past two decades. The influence of the smartphone, social media, and on-demand streaming has been profound. We understand that legislating for these developments is complex and may take some time.”
“We have decided to introduce several measures, well in advance of the legislation, to enhance the effectiveness of our safer gambling policies in Ireland.”
Sports included in the advertising ban include association football, Gaelic football, American football, hurling, rugby, tennis, boxing, athletics, basketball, darts and motorsports. However, horse racing and greyhound racing will be exempt.
Calls for a review of Ireland’s betting advertising regulations have been growing in recent months, both inside and outside the halls of government.
Two of the country’s leading sports authorities, the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), joined the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland in arguing for an ‘urgent ban’ on gambling advertising, pointing to potential links to problem gambling.
Additionally, since 2010, Paddy Power’s leadership and founders have been urging consecutive Irish governments to immediately overhaul the nation’s gambling frameworks – as Ireland remains the only European Union state to have no digital policy governing its gambling laws.
The passage of the Interim Gaming and Lotteries Act has seen the government pledge to establish a new independent regulator, responsible for modernising legislation that had not been updated since the 1930s.
Grant added: “There is an extensive range of safer gambling measures already in place in our Irish business. There are clear benefits if these or similar measures were to be adopted market wide in Ireland.
“We have not always got it right as an industry and we must ensure collectively that we are doing all we can to prevent problem gambling. The reality is that protection and promotion measures will continue to evolve over time and new measures will need to be considered to promote moderation, safety and enjoyment in this era of digital gambling.”