Paddy Power Betfair warns against Irish gambling ad ban

CEO Peter Jackson insists other methods should be explored to tackle problem gambling


Paddy Power Betfair CEO Peter Jackson has hit out at proposals to introduce a blanket ban on gambling advertising in the Republic of Ireland, saying lawmakers in the country should consider other ways to tackle problem gambling.

Last month, President Michael Higgins suggested introducing a ban in order to protect the “integrity” of sport in the republic.

Higgins claimed that dropping ads from live sport broadcasts would help tackle problem gambling in Ireland and underlined that the country should not “ignore” such problems.

However, Jackson has criticised the plans, saying that although the bookmaker is keen to see progress on controlling problem gambling, an outright ban is not “necessarily the right answer”.

“We’d like to see some progress made on the [gambling control] bill,” Jackson added, according to the Irish Independent newspaper. “We will operate within the framework that's put in place – that countries and politicians decide.

“We’ve been a very good supporter of responsible gambling in Ireland.”

Jackson cited the recent decision by Italy to implement an outright ban on ads as an example of how the system can be “very restrictive”. The ban has drawn criticism from the industry and sports clubs in the country that were supported by betting sponsors, with the European Gaming and Betting Association branding the ban a “counterproductive”. Jackson said he is keen for Ireland to avoid a similar environment.

“Some countries chose to put in place very restrictive legislation,” he added. “We’ve just seen in Italy, where advertising is effectively going to be banned. I’m not sure that necessarily is the right answer.”

Jackson was speaking after Paddy Power Betfair this week reported its results for the second quarter, during which profit before tax increased 4% to £106m (€117.9m/$136.3m) but earnings slipped by 1%.

Paddy Power Betfair also said full-year earnings before deductions and interest, “pre-US sports betting”, is now expected to be between £460m and £480 – down from the previous expectation outlined in the Q1 trading update of between £470m and £495m.