Flutter Entertainment is currently spending more than EUR 100 million ($112 million) yearly on safer gambling initiatives in Ireland and Britain. The increased responsible gaming efforts come as both jurisdictions move to tighten their regulations.
The industry giant’s chief executive for the UK and Ireland division, Conor Grant, estimates it spent GBP 48 million ($53.9 million) across the two countries in the first half of this year. In 2021, the total was GBP 93 million.
Back in August, the company shared its financial results for H1, showing its UK revenues fell by 4% when compared to the same period last year – a decline attributed to the implementation of safer gambling initiatives, ahead of the long-awaited reforms to gaming laws, along with a fall in user activity in the online verticals.
As reported by Irish Times, Grant acknowledged the company has “taken some pain,” but still believes that it is “the right thing to do.” He stated that it is all about the sustainability of the business, and argues that the vast majority of the group’s investors agree with this approach. “No one wants to benefit from others’ misfortune,” he added.
Regulation looks like it is finally coming to Ireland, which is significant for Flutter as it has its headquarters in the region, alongside its betting shops and websites operational there as well. The Government recently named senior civil servant Anne Marie Caulfield as chief executive-designate of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. Legislation is due to be published this fall, formally creating the new body and modernizing a 90-year-old law in the region.
The authority will license betting businesses, including websites, sportsbooks and casinos. It will have powers to sanction operators that break the law and remove their licenses in case it is required. It will oversee their advertising, and require them to contribute to a fund to aid problem gambling, give more general consumer protection and prevent fraud.
The new body is expected to be up and running next year, according to Grant, who stated the group always favors regulation as it creates “a level playing field for everyone.”
“Ireland has lacked a regulatory framework. From our perspective, it’s now a case of let’s make sure that this is well-funded and well-resourced,” he said, as reported by Irish Times. However, he pointed out that the Republic has tended not to provide statutory regulators with the resources that are needed and that there is a risk it will repeat the mistake again.
Anne Marie Caulfield However, former chief executive and board member of Flutter’s Paddy Powers Stewart Kenny questions Caulfield’s appointment as he believes the Government should have looked for someone with direct, international experience in dealing with the modern betting industry.
He considers the country should have looked to Australia or other nations and regions where they have made strides in tackling problem gambling in the online era. He also argues that neither the Coalition nor James Browne, the Minister of State responsible for publishing the new legislation and creating the authority, seem very interested in either the issue itself or the new regulator.
Even though there are no moves to update British laws, and a white paper due on the issue was shelved pending the outcome of the recent Conservative Party leadership election, Flutter stated it will continue to invest in its safer gambling division there. This year the company imposed a GBP 500 sterling a month deposit limit on all Irish and British customers aged under 25. It also bars customers from using credit cards to bet, replicating a UK statutory ban.
The brand’s digital alert system is designed to pick up on 270 separate “triggers” indicating that an individual customer may be on track to developing a problem. This is based on the group’s experience with those who have voluntarily excluded themselves in the past. These triggers include increased losses, behavioral changes and more.