Flutter boss calls for gambling review but warns against 'cosmetic gestures'

All MPs from the House of Parliament should be invited to 'National Racehorse Day'
The government is expected to launch its gambling review in the coming weeks

The chief executive of the world's biggest betting company has said the government's long-awaited gambling review is "badly needed" as gambling rules have failed to keep pace with technology.

However, Flutter Entertainment boss Peter Jackson warned against what he described as "cosmetic gestures" and also called on the government to recognise the "special relationship" between the betting and racing industries.

Prime minister Boris Johnson's election manifesto last year promised a review of gambling legislation to bring it into the digital age, and it is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

Writing in the Racing Post, Jackson proposed that protections should be introduced for young adults, suggested a recommended maximum length of time that an individual should spend gambling be put in place and that questions be asked about online spend and stake limits.

Why a review of gambling laws is badly needed - Flutter chief executive

"If we get the balance right then we can build a much better industry which commands the support of its customers – and also wider society too," Jackson said.

Peter Jackson: 'We can build a much better industry'
Peter Jackson: 'We can build a much better industry'

The government has faced increasing calls to take action against the gambling industry in its review, with stake limits and more stringent affordability checks among the measures being demanded.

Jackson said: "It may surprise you to hear this from the CEO of a leading betting company – but I believe this review is badly needed. The rules for gambling in this country have not kept pace with how society has been changed by technology."

Jackson said regulation had progressed in some areas while some operators had introduced their own measures.

"However, the downside to this organic piecemeal approach is that it can lead to inconsistencies and gaps which the less scrupulous can exploit with less regard for customer welfare," he added.

"While it is true that problem gambling rates are stable and low by international standards, it is equally true that we have not always got it right as a sector."

Flutter's portfolio of brands covers some of the biggest names in the betting industry, including Paddy Power and Sky Bet, and it could be one of the operators most affected should the government bring in strict new rules in areas such as advertising and sports sponsorship.

Jackson said the government should "avoid cosmetic gestures that sound good in the headlines but don’t achieve anything meaningful".

He added: "It has been suggested in recent weeks that football clubs should be banned from carrying sponsorship by betting brands. But, unlike tobacco, gambling is not inherently harmful for an individual if done responsibly and commensurately with someone’s financial means."

Jackson said the government should acknowledge the impact of policy changes on "the wider ecosystem including the racing industry".

He added: "The racing industry is a key stakeholder in this process, and now more than ever it is vital that our two sectors support each other."

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Bill BarberIndustry editor
Published on 9 November 2020Last updated 20:07, 9 November 2020