Flutter Entertainment Peter Jackson

Flutter’s Peter Jackson endorses ‘dynamic and adaptable’ Irish regulation

As authorities work to implement the biggest overhaul of Irish betting regulation in decades, one of the country’s biggest industry stakeholders has outlined his views.

Writing for The Irish Times, Flutter Entertainment Chief Executive Peter Jackson welcomed legislative changes, including the introduction of a new regulator – the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA). 

Pending Dáil Éireann parliamentary approval of the Gambling Regulation Bill, the GRA will commence operations in 2023, under the leadership of Anne Marie Caulfield as Chief Executive.

Jackson remarked that Flutter understands ‘the benefits of having a well resourced and dynamic regulator’ based on its international experience, whilst also noting that operators in Ireland had ‘not always got things right’ on safer gambling.

“Our experience suggests that a fit-for-purpose, properly enforced regulated market can accommodate the vast majority of customers who enjoy a bet safely, while protecting those for whom gambling can become harmful,” he continued.

The Group CEO’s comments echo those of Conor Grant, Flutter’s CEO for the UK and Ireland, who stated that the FTSE 100 group is a ‘long-standing advocate of evidence-based measures’ and a ‘well-resourced regulator’.

Going into specifics about the future of Irish betting, however, Jackson argued that the Irish regulator must guarantee two factors to be successful. 

First, it should be well-funded, and secondly it should be ‘dynamic and adaptable’ to meet the requirements of the ever evolving gambling industry.

Pointing to the British market, he explained that although it is admittedly responsible for a much more larger sector than the GRA will be, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has an expenditure of £45m for a team of 250, whilst regulatory spending in the Netherlands, Greece and Spain regularly exceed €10-20m.

Ireland’s new regulator needs to have access to the same reasons to address the same problems faced by these regulators, Jackson wrote, whilst it should also be adaptable enough to ensure that consumers are not affected disproportionately.

“It is critical that the authority’s chief executive designate has access to comparable budgets to ensure that the GRAI is optimally effective in achieving its mandate,” Jackson remarked.

“There is no reason why it can’t be a global leader in this area. If Ireland is home to the largest listed gambling operator in the world, as well as thousands of highly-skilled people working in the industry, it should have a world-class regulator to match.”

In Jackson’s view, as the authority matures it should gain access to more funding, partly to ensure effective talent recruitment – however, he also stated that the new framework should not hinder ‘responsible operators’.

He added: “New effective controls should strengthen protections for those who may need it, but not impact the many thousands of recreational customers disproportionately.”

James Browne, Ireland’s Minister of State for Justice, has laid out the remit and responsibilities of the ‘extremely powerful’ GRA as one of the main architects of the Gambling Regulation Bill. 

The regulator will be charged with creating a national gambling self-exclusion scheme, which must be offered to customers by all licensed land-based and online operators. 

Additionally, the GRA will establish and manage a ‘Social Impact Fund’ for gambling harms, backed by a mandatory contribution from operators, and will have the power to launch enforcement actions against licence holders.

Flutter’s CEO stated that the firm ‘fully supports’ the GRA’s core objectives of preventing gambling from being a source of crime, requiring safeguards to counter problem gambling and allowing companies ‘to make decisions with certainty’. 

Jackson concluded: “So, while there are many Irish-trained horses fancied at Cheltenham and Irish rugby fans dreaming of a World Cup in 2023, a more certain outcome is that an adequately-resourced regulator will deliver a safer and fairer gambling environment for consumers in Ireland.”

SBC News Flutter’s Peter Jackson endorses ‘dynamic and adaptable’ Irish regulation

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