Flutter warns of ‘unintended consequences’ from new gambling laws

Paddy Power owner confirms exit from Irish Stock Exchange

Nobody wants new gambling laws to hit live TV sports coverage, according to Peter Jackson, chief executive of Paddy Power owner, Flutter Entertainment.

Fears are growing that provisions in the Government’s Gambling Bill that ban betting ads between 5.30am and 9.00pm could hit live sports broadcasts and damage horse racing, which earns revenues from coverage on specialist TV channels.

Speaking after Flutter said it grew revenue 8 per cent to €2 billion in the three months to the end of September, Mr Jackson noted that the provision could have “unintended consequences” but added that the group hoped this could be clarified before it becomes law.

“No one wants to see a situation where sport has to come off television in Ireland,” he pointed out.


Mr Jackson said that Flutter had “engaged” with the legislative process and met James Browne, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, who is promoting the Bill.

Instead of a blanket advertising ban from the moment the Bill becomes law, Flutter has asked the Government to consider giving the new Gambling Commission the flexibility to regulate advertising.

This would allow the authority to work out how to avoid a situation where TV channels halt sports broadcasts to avoid breaking the law.

Separately, Mr Jackson insisted that the group had “done the right thing” by long-serving Paddy Power staff taking redundancy following the bookie’s decision to close 21 shops around the Republic.

Workers leaving the chain said their redundancy packages amounted to little more than one year’s pay, despite decades of service in some cases.

He stressed that departing staff received their full entitlements and that the company paid statutory redundancy along with ex gratia payments.

Mr Jackson said that the group remained committed to its betting shops, and pointed out that it would have 230 outlets in the Republic following the closures.

Meanwhile, Flutter confirmed that it would exit the Irish Stock Exchange in early 2024 as it adds a New York listing. The group will remain on the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Jackson pledged that Flutter would remain headquartered and tax resident in the Republic.

The group flagged the exit earlier this year, saying it had encountered technical difficulties that hindered it from retaining its Dublin listing.

Flutter expects full-year earnings outside the US to be £1.44 billion, the lower end of a previously guided range of £1.44 billion to £1.6 billion.

The group blamed a run of sports results that favoured customers, which cost it £50 million, a £30 million bill for adverse currency movements, and weaker revenue from Australian racing, for lowering earnings predictions.

It expects revenue in the US to be about £3.75 billion, with earnings at £140 million, despite ongoing investment in new customer acquisition.

Flutter said revenue in the UK and the Republic was £566 million (€650 million) for the quarter, 11 per cent higher year on year, with momentum continuing throughout the three-month period.

Australia saw an 18 per cent decline in revenues to £262 million, while the international market was 16 per cent higher at £539 million.

Mr Jackson said the third quarter was strong for the company, with a 16 per cent rise in average monthly players.

“We are particularly pleased by the great progress we are making in the US. We are the first online operator to achieve structural profitability,” he added.

He predicted that strong earnings growth there in 2023 would continue into next year “and beyond” as margins expand.

“Outside of the US, our strategy ensures we can capitalise on the many growth opportunities which exist across our global markets. Our diversified portfolio of leading brands are well positioned to adapt to challenges and opportunities in their respective markets.”

Flutter shares were down 10.6 per cent at €140.85 in Dublin.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist