Paddy Power backs bet limits to protect staff, but not customers
Aaron Rogan, Senior Ireland Reporter
October 13 2018, 12:01am, The Times
Stewart Kenny, co-founder of Paddy Power, said that protecting staff but not customers was “deeply cynical”JAMES MORGAN PHOTOGRAPHIC CONCULTANCY
Betting firms should be forced by law to limit the amount of money people can lose online, Fianna Fáil has said.
The Times reported this week that Paddy Power staff can open accounts with the company but are limited to gambling €500 a month. The rule mirrors a call from the founder and former chief executive of Paddy Power for the company to restrict the amount that a customer can lose online to protect people who may have a gambling problem. However, it will not be extended to all people who open accounts.
Jack Chambers, a Fianna Fáil TD, said his party would consider including the restrictions in a law to regulate gambling, due to come before the Dáil. “Mandatory limits are a useful method for preventing gambling addicts losing hundreds or thousands of euros in a very short space of time,” he said.
“If Paddy Power is serious about tackling problem gambling and helping people with addiction, it needs to immediately roll out this option to all its customers and stop prioritising profits over people’s health and wellbeing.”
Stewart Kenny, the co-founder of Paddy Power who quit the board over failures to deal with problem gamblers, said that protecting staff but not customers was “deeply cynical”.
“I’m glad they now accept that deposit limits should be on imposed on accounts,” he said. He has called for customers to be forced to set a limit on how much they can top up their account when they register a betting account. Gamblers could change this limit but with a cooling-off period so that they do not chase their loses by repeatedly topping up. Staff at Paddy Power have said that large amounts of money are lost in online casino games in the early hours of the morning, and likened the games to fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are banned from Irish betting shops. The British government has imposed a maximum stake of £2 on FOBTs because of fears that they are causing problem gamblers to lose large amounts. A spokesman for Paddy Power Betfair said that customers were able to set deposit limits on their accounts voluntarily.
Paddy Power Betfair’s results for 2017 showed a 13 per cent rise in revenue to £1.75 billion, driven by 16 per cent growth in sports revenue. Peter Jackson, chief executive, said the company’s developers would work on improving ease of use and on new casino apps.
The Gambling Control Bill proposed by Fine Gael in 2013 is subject to an interdepartmental review after undergoing the normal parliamentary scrutiny three years ago.
Fianna Fáil has tabled its own bill based on the same legislation because of the lack of progress on the government’s bill, which has reached the committee stage.