Betting firm caps losses for young gamblers… at £500 a month: Paddy Power giant becomes first bookmaker to limit the amount younger clients can lose – while the wealthy will be allowed to dodge rules
- Gambling firm said around 35,000 under-25s sometimes lost more than the cap
- People who can afford to lose more will go through process to check finances
- Government prepares to introduce tougher gambling laws amid ongoing review
The betting group behind Paddy Power and Betfair has become the first bookmaker to limit the amount young gamblers can lose – in a bid to curb the ruinous impact of addiction.
Flutter, the brands’ parent company, said customers under the age of 25 will be limited to £500 worth of losses per month.
The Irish giant, which is the UK’s biggest online gambling firm, said around 35,000 under-25s sometimes lost more than the cap in the UK and Ireland.
The betting group behind Paddy Power and Betfair has become the first bookmaker to limit the amount young gamblers can lose – in a bid to curb the ruinous impact of addiction (file image)
The ‘small number’ who can afford to lose more than £500 will go through a ‘detailed process’ to check their finances before the limit is increased, it added.
Yesterday’s announcement comes as the Government prepares to introduce tougher gambling laws within weeks amid an ongoing review.
But it was met with derision by critics who said the timing of the new policy had ‘the whiff of self-preservation’.
And they added that the cap was still above the £450-a-month which the Gambling Commission estimates most gamblers can afford.
Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the NHS’s top gambling addiction expert, said: ‘Capping losses for under-25s at £500 a month should not be applauded.
‘Even £100-a-month losses would be disastrous. Self-regulation by industry does not work and this is a clear example.’
Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of the NGO Clean Up Gambling, said: ‘It’s welcome that a large operator has recognised the need for limits.
‘But most people can’t afford to lose anywhere near £500 a month – let alone under-25s.
‘The threshold should be set at £100 per month, with proper affordability checks for those who want to bet more.’
However, Flutter said its decision to limit younger gamblers was supported by more than three-quarters of its ‘regular’ customers.
Company sources added that internal research found under-25s had not developed a full understanding, making more stringent protections necessary.
Conor Grant, chief executive of Flutter in the UK and Ireland, said: ‘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.
The ‘small number’ who can afford to lose more than £500 will go through a ‘detailed process’ to check their finances before the limit is increased (file image)
‘We want anyone who decides to gamble when they come of age to get in the habit of setting sensible spending limits.’
The prospect of monthly loss limits has been the most contentious element of the ongoing review.
Health campaigners have argued that current thresholds – which run to many thousands of pounds – allow binge gamblers to rack up ruinous debts in a matter of hours.
Earlier this year, Paddy Power co-founder Stewart Kenny sparked controversy when he demanded ‘mandatory deposit limits’ – curbs on the amount customers can put in their betting accounts each day, week or month.
Writing in the Daily Mail in February, he said: ‘“At-risk” customers [need] to avoid self-destructing at a point where rational behaviour has been compromised.’
But the gambling industry has hit back saying punters should be free to choose how to spend their cash and should not be asked for sensitive financial information by their bookmaker.
The Mail has been campaigning for tougher laws to protect young and vulnerable gamblers – including the introduction of loss limits – under its Stop the Gambling Predators campaign.
It has won a series of victories including a ban on credit card gambling and curbs on television advertising.
Read More:Paddy Power caps losses for young gamblers… at £500 a month