In a raft of measures designed to show its commitment to responsible gambling, Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of brands like PaddyPower, Betfair, and SkyBet in Ireland, has announced it will ban all Irish customers from using credit cards to bet from April.
It comes at the same time as, across the Irish Sea, the UK government has announced that all credit card betting will be banned from April 14th.
‘In both cases, the rationale is the same. A significant minority of those identified as having a gambling problem, use credit cards as a principal means of payment. They are regarded as particularly problematic as it encourages people to bet more than they can afford. This is especially true where they have access to more than one card, and there have been instances if individuals racking up thousands in losses.
There is also evidence that holding a credit card encourages a gambler to chase losses.
The Irish online casino guide listed here details what payment methods are commonly accepted by operators, and for those who can no longer use their credit card, there are usually a number of alternatives.
At the same time, Flutter has also announced a ban on live sports advertising before the 9pm watershed – this covers sports like football, tennis, boxing, athletes but excludes horse and greyhound racing,
And to demonstrate their commitment to responsible gambling, Flutter has also committed to giving more money to initiatives devoted to tacking the issue of addiction and harmful behaviours.
They have publicly stated that by, by 2023, 1% of all NGR 9net Gambling Revenue) will e allocated top such programmes.
Cynics might argue that the company can afford it. Flutter enjoyed a bumper year in 2020 thanks to a strong performances in the US and Australian markets, where it added another 450,000 customers, it mirrors the general trend that the global pandemic has been a boon to the online casino business.
Flutter also will be aware that the gaming industry is a traditional easy target for governments looking to raise taxes. Many governments have had to go massively into debt to cope with the pandemic, and they will be looking to fill empty exchequers as a matter of priority.
If they are not seen to be proactive when it comes to problem gamblers, then this could just be the excuse needed to attack them, especially by opportunistic politicians looking for some favourable headlines.
Flutter will also be mindful of what is happening in other European countries. In Belgium for example, online gambling advertising has been banned completely, and live sports events are not allowed to carry ads promoting gaming.
Similarly, in Spain, the only time that adverts can be broadcast for online gaming is between 1 am and 5 am when few people are twitching and there is little live sport on which to bet being played.
Therefore, whilst what Flutter is doing will help address the issue of problem gambling, it is also an entirely pragmatic business decision as well. Seem to be doing something on their terms before somebody takes the power away from them.