Paddy Power in bookies' drive to give problem gamblers help
Five of the biggest betting companies in the UK - including Paddy Power - have committed to a series of measures addressing problem gambling, such as a major increase in funding for addiction.
The move follows criticism from the UK government. The five companies - Bet365, Paddy Power owner Flutter, Ladbrokes owner GVC, Sky Betting and Gaming, and William Hill - have all agreed the measures to address problem gambling after discussions with the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
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The firms will significantly boost their financial support for safer gambling, increasing their commitment from 0.1pc of their gross gambling yield to 1pc by 2023.
This will result in roughly £60m (€67m) in funding support from the firms in 2023, and it will remain at that level for the future.
It comes after criticism over the amount of money gambling firms spend to help addicts, compared with marketing spending.
Last month, England's National Health Service chief executive Simon Stevens called for a tax on betting firms to pay for addiction treatment.
Over the next four years, the firms will cumulatively spend £100m (€112m) on addiction treatment and cooperate with health organisations to determine where support is most needed.
The companies have also agreed to "review the tone and content" of advertising and marketing, as well as increasing messages regarding safer gambling.
The five firms will be required to report on their progress to the country's Gambling Commission.
Flutter CEO Peter Jackson, representing all five gambling companies, said: "This is an unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration by the leading companies in the British betting and gaming sector to address gambling- related harm and promote safer gambling."
Aside from the large number of fixed-odds betting terminals, which are not allowed in Ireland, the UK has a tight regulatory regime when it comes to the gambling sector.
If a person or company wants to operate as a bookie or online betting firm in the UK, it must go through a strict and detailed application process.
The Gambling Commission, which regulates the sector, was set up 14 years ago.
In comparison, much of the current legislation which exists in Ireland is outdated, something the Government is working to change.
In March this year, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Gambling Regulation David Stanton announced the establishment of a gambling regulatory authority.
Once created, the body will become responsible for the regulation of all forms of gambling in Ireland, where the market is currently valued at between €6bn and €8bn per year.
Additional reporting PA Media