Flutter has become the first bookmaker to limit the amount young gamblers can lose to £500 per month.
The Paddy Power and Betfair owners said around 35,000 under-25s sometimes lost more than the cap in the UK and Ireland. There will, however, be a special exemption for those deemed to be able to afford to lose more than the limit, but they will need to go through a ‘detailed process’ to check their finances before the limit is increased.
The idea for a loss cap was first suggested by critics of the industry, however Flutter’s decision to impose this regulation on itself has not impressed anti-gambling campaigners.
“Capping losses for under-25s at £500 a month should not be applauded,” said Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the NHS’s top gambling addiction expert, in a tweet. “Even £100-a-month losses would be disastrous. Self-regulation by industry does not work and this is a clear example.”
Despite her expertise, Bowden-Jones presented no evidence that this is the case; a glaring omission for someone whose job it is to know the data before they make declarations. Flutter, on the other hand, pointed to internal research that had found under-25s had not developed a full understanding, making more stringent protections necessary.
“People under the age of 25 are likely to be experiencing a number of significant life changes such as gaining independence for the first time and learning how to manage their finances,” said Conor Grant, chief executive of Flutter in the UK and Ireland. “We want anyone who decides to gamble when they come of age to get in the habit of setting sensible spending limits.”
ONLINE OPERATORS SEARCH FOR SINGLE SOLUTION TO AFFORDABILITY PROBLEM
As with the amusements industry’s search for a single solution to the problem of an increasingly cashless society, the online industry is currently searching for a one-stop-shop to address all its affordability-related issues.
Allan Auning-Hansen, CEO of Danish operator CEGO, explained that operators can do more to successfully explore affordability in order to accurately understand how player’s fund their gambling activity – but that the solution to do it at scale has not yet emerged.
“This is a huge challenge to overcome; the process needs to be automated without interfering with the sign-up process,” he said. “There are some solutions already in the market, such as BeBettor, but they are local and as an operator you really need a single solution that works across all of the markets where you are active.”