Paddy Power commits to do more to help addicts following criticism
Five of the biggest gambling companies in the UK have committed to a series of measures to address problem gambling, including a major increase in funding for addiction, following criticism from the UK government.
The companies - Bet365, Paddy Power-owner Flutter, Ladbrokes-owner GVC, Sky Betting and Gaming and William Hill - have agreed the proposals after discussions with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The gambling 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 spend.
Last month, NHS England 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 co-operate 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 increase messages regarding safer gambling.
The five firms will be required to report on their progress to the Gambling Commission.
Peter Jackson, chief executive officer of Flutter, 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.
"The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban was a good start; now we are funding a significant expansion in treatment and we continue to work on a number of areas of collaboration and best practice.
"Our aim is nothing less than a step change in how we tackle gambling-related harm."
Aside from the large numbers of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are not allowed in Ireland, the UK has a tight regulatory regime when it comes to the gambling sector.
If you want to operate as a bookie or online betting firm in the UK you must go through a strict and detailed application process.
The Gambling Commission, which regulates the sector, was set up 14 years ago.
In comparison, Irish Cabinet approval to set up a gambling regulatory authority only happened this year.