lutter Entertainment announced on Monday the introduction of a range of proactive measures to its operations in Ireland to update its safer gambling policies and to mitigate the potential for harm.
The measures include the commitment of 1% of Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) to support the research, education, and treatment of problem gambling, the banning of credit card use on customers’ online and retail accounts, and a pre-watershed whistle-to-whistle advertising ban that will restrict advertising during live sport.
These measures are supplemented by a range of measures already in place to facilitate intervention when signs of harmful gambling behavior are identified through artificial intelligence and human monitoring.
"We welcome the Irish Government’s commitment to introducing gambling regulation during its lifetime," says Conor Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Flutter UK & I. "But gambling operators must act responsibly without being required to do so."
"We recognize 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."
New measures to be introduced
Flutter brands in Ireland, including Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet will cease to accept credit card payments from customers on all online customer accounts and in Paddy Power shops. Customers who currently have a credit card as their active payment method will have to replace that payment method with an available alternative. The implementation of required technology changes will occur over the coming 6 weeks and it is anticipated that the ban will be in effect from early April.
From May 1st, Flutter will introduce a restriction on TV advertising on all live sport before 9 pm. This removal of advertising will involve live sporting events including GAA, soccer, rugby, golf, tennis, boxing, basketball, athletics, American football, darts, and motorsports and will run from 5 minutes before the event until 5 minutes after. This will not include horseracing or greyhound racing.
Flutter will significantly increase its donations to Irish safer gambling organizations over the next three years. By 2023, 1% of Flutter’s Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) from Irish customers will be given to initiatives focused on the research, education, and treatment of problem gambling. Based on reported NGR achieved in 2020, this will amount to a contribution of circa €1.25m this year, rising to approximately €3m in 2023. Flutter already contributes €450,000 to the established Gambling Awareness Trust in Ireland. The commitment to donate 1% of NGR will be used to increase this contribution to the Gambling Awareness Trust, as well as supporting emerging initiatives around the country.
"There is an extensive range of safer gambling measures already in place in our Irish business," says Grant. "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."
These measures will complement existing measures that Flutter has introduced in recent years to ensure customers in Ireland are offered a safe environment in which to gamble, even before a Regulator is in place.
Flutter has invested significantly in a predictive model that uses behavioral analytics to predict the likelihood of someone suffering gambling-related harm. This model is constantly renewed and refreshed.
During 2020, Flutter also conducted a full impact analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic on gambling behaviors. Overall, the number of customers identified as being at-risk of problem gambling did not increase and Flutter also canceled its ‘cancel pending withdrawal’ facility for Irish customers.
Flutter has also increased its safer gambling signposting on all marketing channels, helped establish Safer Gambling Week in Ireland, and has developed robust policies and governance structures to ensure safer gambling is firmly embedded at the heart of its business.