Paddy Power and PokerStars owner Flutter Entertainment has appointed former deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson as an advisor to the business, to help it develop new standards of safer gambling practices.
Watson has been tasked with examining all aspects of the business, and helping Flutter devise ways to protect vulnerable customers while offering a safe and entertaining experience for its customers.
This will see him evaluate everything from its Paddy Power retail estate to its stable of online brands, including current staff training, marketing and safer gambling operations.
“I have a long-standing interest in this sector and consistently called for action to protect those that may be potentially vulnerable to harm,” Watson commented. “In taking on this role in Flutter, I intend to get under the bonnet of the business – and the industry more widely – to understand how best to further develop and implement industry leading responsible gambling policies.
“I strongly believe that working collaboratively with Flutter in this way will allow me to continue to drive positive change.”
Watson, who served as Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East from 2001 to 2019 and was a keynote speaker at ICE London 2020, has long been a leading voice in calls for changes across the British gambling sector.
Working with special advisor Dr James Noyes, he was an early proponent of a number of regulatory changes to the sector, such as advocating for a ban on credit card gambling, and new advertising restrictions for the industry.
The ban on using credit cards to fund gambling was later adopted by the Gambling Commission, while operators voluntarily agreed to implement a so-called ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on gambling advertising around live sport broadcasts last year.
He also set out plans for new limits on spending, staking and game speed which are likely to be seriously considered in the government’s upcoming review of the 2005 Gambling Act. His description of that Act as “analogue legislation not fit for the digital age” has been picked up by all political parties.
“Bringing in someone with Tom’s gambling reform background is an important part of my commitment to lead the industry’s race to the top,” Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson said.
We have to work harder than ever before to find a way to continue to bring great products and brands to our customers while always having the need to protect the vulnerable clearly in mind,” Jackson explained. “Tom will hold a mirror up to help us make sure we are getting this balance right and I welcome the opportunity to work with him and hear what he has to say in coming months.”