Flutter Entertainment, the proprietor of Sky Casino, Sky Vegas and the casinos offered at Betfair and Paddy Power, have introduced their own unique responsible gaming measures in Ireland that are currently not required by law.
Among the features they are introducing are a complete ban on credit card deposits, which brings the Irish side of their business in line with the protocol that has been in place in the UK market since April.
Flutter have also revealed that they will be voluntarily pulling their TV advertisements during live sporting events, while committing 1% of their annual net gaming revenue – around €3 million per year based on recent figures – to research, education and treatment for problem gambling in the country.
Conor Grant, the firm’s UK chief executive, believes that operators should do more to protect their players from harm.
“We recognise that gambling has undergone a technological transformation over the past two decades,” he said. “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.”
Flutter already utilises a number of safer gambling techniques, which includes the monitoring of gaming activities and a range of time out and exclusion tools.
“There is an extensive range of safer gambling measures already in place in our Irish business,” Grant said.
“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.”
Looming Law Changes for Irish Operators
It is expected that the rather liberal regulatory framework in Ireland might be set to change in 2021.
The Labour Party has already introduced a bill that calls for an end to non-sponsorship based gambling advertising, in an attempt to ‘divorce’ the gambling sector from the worlds of sport and entertainment.
“In 2019, Ireland had the 7th highest gambling spend in the world at €9.8 billion (or €379.51 per head). Our legislation to ‘#BeatTheAds’ will prevent unnecessary encouragement of gambling – banning all gambling ads across the media, on public transport, billboards and online outlets,” said Senator Mark Wall, Labour’s spokesperson on sport.
And the Irish government has also been working on amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act that governs gambling in the country, with some of those tweaks already introduced.
The main course of action has been to toughen the licensing requirements of operators, ensuring that only high quality firms are given the green light to legally offer their services to Irish players.
There has also been an increase in the minimum age allowed to play the National Lottery from 16 to 18 – a measure that is likely to be followed in the UK in the near future.
Nobody can advertise gambling products or services in Ireland without a licence as part of those Gaming and Lotteries Act amendments.