Bookmaking giant Paddy Power Betfair has announced that from now its websites will feature new tools to help customers combat problem gambling. Reports detailed how these new features will enable customers to set daily, weekly and monthly limits on their stake, as well as limit how much money they can lose over time.
In addition, the company – the world's largest online betting operator – has established account history, deposit limits, reality checks and loss limits at both its Paddy Power and Betfair websites. A company statement on the new tools said:
“We want all of our customers to enjoy their gambling responsibly over a long period of time, only using discretionary funds and not putting themselves in financial distress. All of our brands and products offer a variety of responsible gambling tools to help customers stay in control and we are dedicated to funding the education, research and treatment of problem gambling in every market we operate in.”
According to the GC’s statistics, almost £4.7bn was bet online in 2016-17. This represents a whopping increase of more than £428m from the year before. Moreover, the GC believes more than half of all gambling in the near future will be done online.
And as such it insists operators must be doing more to help prevent problem gambling. "With such growth comes a responsibility", it warned. Some experts believe integrating responsible gaming tools into the online gambling arena is definitely a step in the right direction.
Dr Colin O’Gara, a consultant psychiatrist and head of addiction services at Saint John of God Hospital in Dublin, believes providing gamblers with information about their losses could help to stop enjoyable hobbies from becoming full-blown addictions.
In addition to introducing more ways to help stop problem gambling, Paddy Power Betfair reiterated its call for the Irish government to establish an independent regulator. The company’s head of communications, James Midmer, said Paddy Power Betfair wanted the delayed Gambling Control Bill to be be brought in:
“at the earliest opportunity... [as] it’s in everyone’s interests to have a credible, properly funded regulator who can work constructively with the industry”.
The Irish government is still in the process of updating its gambling bill (which was approved in 2013) to establish an independent regulator and cover online gambling and social media advertising. The Gambling Commission has called for increased scrutiny in the UK too.