Peter Jackson, the CEO of Flutter, has disputed the findings of a study conducted by ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) regarding problem gambling rates in Ireland. Jackson claimed that ESRI used outdated sources for their research and pointed to an NHS survey that showed a gambling risk of only 0.4% of the total population, which would be equivalent to 1-in-250 people.
In response, Professor Lunn, speaking to the Business Post, stated that Jackson’s sources were outdated and pointed to a more recent report from the UK Gambling Commission, which had a much higher estimate of problem gambling rates compared to ESRI’s findings. Lunn also highlighted that ESRI’s data is peer-reviewed and publicly available, making it open to scrutiny.
The debate arises from the ESRI report, which revealed that the rates of problem gambling in Ireland were much higher than previously estimated. At-risk gamblers were found to be ten times higher compared to a 2019 study, accounting for over a quarter of the total sum gambled each year in Ireland.
Jackson admitted to not personally seeing the ESRI report but acknowledged that it suggested gambling to be a bigger societal issue than his real-life experience or independent research indicated.
The study was commissioned by the Department of Justice and the Implementation Team supporting the creation of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. The findings come at a critical time when industry stakeholders are lobbying against potential curtailments in the anticipated Gambling Regulation Bill, set to go into effect in the coming months.
Flutter Entertainment, with its headquarters in Ireland, has expressed concerns about proposed changes, particularly the ban on gambling-related ads on television between 5:30 am and 9 pm every day. This move is contested by racing broadcasters, who believe it could make televising the action economically unviable.
Overall, the conflicting views on problem gambling rates in Ireland are causing a stir in the industry, with implications for potential regulatory changes and the future of gambling-related advertising.