Friday 17 August 2018

Paddy Power Betfair boss: ad ban is 'not right answer'

Stock image: Paddy Power Betfair/PA
Stock image: Paddy Power Betfair/PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Paddy Power Betfair's chief executive has said that the President's recent call for gambling advertising to be banned in sport is not necessarily the right thing to do.

"If I had my way, I wouldn't have advertising or any access to gambling platforms in sport at all," said President Michael D Higgins last month.

The betting giant says it will abide by whatever laws are in place, but boss Peter Jackson said: "We've been a very good supporter of responsible gambling in Ireland.

"We would like to see some progress made on the [gambling control] bill. We will operate within the framework that's put in place - that countries and politicians decide."

The Gambling Control Bill is still being drafted by the Department of Justice, although proposals were laid down in 2013. The bill will propose a new and comprehensive framework for the regulation and licensing of gambling in Ireland. A new regulatory body would be established under the plans.

Last month, Italy approved a ban on gambling advertising that comes into effect next year.

"Some countries chose to put in place very restrictive legislation," said Mr Jackson.

"We've just seen that in Italy, where advertising is effectively going to be banned. I'm not sure that necessarily is the right answer," he added.

Mr Jackson was speaking as Paddy Power Betfair published its first-half results.

The World Cup helped to lift profits for the period, but its shares slumped as much as 7.1pc as it predicted that its underlying, full-year earnings will be hit by additional taxes in Australia and the inclusion of losses from its recently acquired US-based FanDuel sports business.

Its first-half revenue rose 7pc in constant currency terms to £867m (€962.8m), while its pre-tax profit was 4pc higher at £106m (€117.7m).

The group, which has been focusing on reinvigorating its Paddy Power brand, said that the World Cup accounted for £23m (€25.5m) of its total first-half revenue.

But the group's total revenue from the World Cup, which ended after the Paddy Power Betfair's second quarter finished, was £45m.

The tournament generated an £8m (€8.8m) profit for the gambling group.

Paddy Power Betfair said it expects its full-year, underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, without taking account of its US sports betting, to be between £460m and £480m (€510.8m and €533m).

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