Flutter Entertainment Commits to New Safer Gambling Measures in Ireland

  • Flutter will introduce three changes to “enhance the effectiveness” of its safer gambling policies
  • A ban on credit cards will begin in April, while the ad measure will take effect in May
  • The company intends to increase safer gambling charity donations to 1% of its Irish revenue
  • The move comes as Ireland’s MPs mull changes to the country’s outdated gambling regulations
Paddy Power sign in Dublin, Ireland
Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment will introduce a series of new safer gambling measures for its Irish brands, including a ban on credit card use. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Three new pledges

Gambling operator Flutter Entertainment has announced a series of new safer gambling measures for its brands in Ireland, including Paddy Power, Betfair, and Sky Bet.

In a company statement released on Monday, Connor Grant, CEO of Flutter’s UK and Ireland division, said the business aimed to “enhance the effectiveness” of its safer gambling policies in Ireland. Flutter announced the move on its Twitter page the same morning:

The changes include three measures. Flutter will prohibit the use of credit cards for both online and retail gambling and will introduce a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on television advertisements during live sporting events. In addition, the company has agreed to increase its investment in safer gambling research, education, and treatment to €3m ($3.6m) by 2023.

Further details of the measures

In its Monday statement, Flutter agreed to implement its credit card ban in early April. The operator said that a number of technological changes will occur in the coming weeks to allow that to happen. The move will prohibit Irish customers of Paddy Power, Betfair, or Sky Bet from adding credit cards or using existing ones on their accounts.

The ad ban will run from five minutes before sporting events to five minutes after.

In regards to its “whistle-to-whistle” ad ban, Flutter said the changes will take place starting May 1, 2021. Similar to a measure imposed in the UK in 2019, it will see advertising restricted on live sports broadcasts before 9pm. The ad ban will run from five minutes before sporting events to five minutes after. This excludes horse racing and greyhound racing.

Studies conducted after the introduction of the UK’s “whistle-to-whistle” ban showed positive results. Enders Analysis research in 2019 found that the number of ads children saw during commercial breaks fell by 97%. Total exposure to betting ads during live sports fell by 78%. The Betting and Gaming Council has praised the success of the measure.

In its final commitment, Flutter revealed plans to increase donations to Irish safer gambling organizations over the next three years. The €3m total will ultimately reflect 1% of the company’s net gaming revenue from Irish operations. This will mainly go toward the Gambling Awareness Trust, in addition to other “emerging initiatives.”

Getting ahead of legislation

Commenting on the introduction of the new measures, Flutter UK and Ireland boss Connor Grant described a need to respond to gambling’s “technological transformation” with the emergence of mobile gaming and social media. He said the company decided to introduce the measures “well in advance” of any new gambling legislation.

Irish gambling law is based on legislation passed in the 1950s

Similar to the UK, Ministers in Ireland have been mulling an overhaul of the country’s gambling law for some time. Current Irish gambling law is based on legislation passed in the 1950s. The country’s market is still without an official regulator, and the rise of sports betting and iGaming has led to the call for change.

Just last week, an Irish senator proposed the introduction of a €100 ($122) limit for all online gambling wagers in the country. He pointed to Ireland’s 29,000 gambling addicts in his reasoning, in addition to an estimated €10,000 ($12,131) per minute spent on gambling websites.

As part of this reform, the Irish government intends to introduce an official gambling regulator by this fall. James Browne, Ireland’s Minister of State for Law Reform, has pledged to introduce further amendments throughout 2021 to update the country’s gambling laws.

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