Thursday, May 30, 2024

Flutter warns over ‘serious’ consequences from parts of gambling bill

Must read

Company says new rules will have an ‘unintended’ impact on Exchequer, the racing industry and safe gamblers

The horse-racing sector warned in recent months that the industry would become unviable due to a ban on gambling advertising that would extend to subscription channels.

The new gambling laws – which will also formally establish a gambling regulator – are expected to be enacted soon.

Section 141 of the bill bans gambling ads on TV, radio and other audio-visual media services between 5.30am and 9pm.

The Government said it is intended to protect children from the “widespread proliferation” of gambling advertising across such media platforms.

Horse Racing Ireland wants the time ban replaced with a complete ban on advertising all day, but with subscription services provided with a derogation from the ban.

“We are very supportive of the gambling bill regulation and the creation of the new regulator,” said Flutter chief financial officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson.

“We want strong regulation in our markets that we operate in and we agree with 99pc of the bill,” he added as Flutter – the owner of Paddy Power – released first-quarter results on Tuesday.

“But there are a small number of specific areas where the bill as currently drafted could have serious unintended consequences to the Exchequer and the horse-racing industry in Ireland and the vast majority of Irish people who gamble safely.”

The horse and greyhound racing industries receive financial support from the State via the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund.

This year, the fund has been allocated €95m, with €76m going to Horse Racing Ireland and the remainder to Greyhound Racing Ireland.

Betting duty – the tax levied on every bet in Ireland – is just 2pc, which is much lower than in other European countries.

Mr Edgecliffe-Johnson claimed that planned advertising and betting incentive restrictions could result in “forcing a large number of Irish citizens into the black market”.

Flutter – the world’s largest online gambling firm – is spending about $100m (€92m) a year on safer gambling measures, according to the chief financial officer.

It can tout such measures in the face of increasing legislation aimed at closing the net on gambling businesses.

In the United States, where Flutter’s FanDuel unit has by a country mile become the biggest sports-betting provider in the country, the group has become a founding member and biggest funder of the new Responsible Online Gaming Association.

Flutter is providing $10m a year to the body.

But the surge in online gambling in the US has raised fears that it is laying the foundations of a potential future mental health crisis.

Flutter reported on Tuesday that its FanDuel division currently has a 52pc share of net gaming revenue in the US, while its FanDuel Casino arm is the number one online gaming brand.

It had nearly 3.4 million average monthly players in the US in the first quarter, which was up 15pc year-on-year.

Its US revenue jumped 32pc in the first quarter to $1.4bn and it made adjusted earnings before profit, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $26m, compared with a $53m loss in the first three months of 2023.

Latest article