Bookmaker William Hill has rejected calls to adhere to the Safer Gambling Code which has been endorsed by betting companies operating here.
e code calls for a ban on live television advertising and, above all, credit card payments.
But the British bookmaker’s stance threatens to create a rift in the industry, as it has meanwhile emerged that Paddy Power has paid An Post €1.75 million for money stolen from the semi-state company by an employee.
Post office worker Tony O’Reilly siphoned off money from An Post to fund his online account which he opened with his credit card, beginning a treacherous journey to ruin and prison.
The Carlow man was sentenced to four years in prison in 2012 and he later told his story in shocking detail in a book co-authored by journalist Declan Lynch.
Paddy Power’s payment to An Post for debt, first reported in the Sunday business post, is seen as devastating for an industry struggling in the wake of the regulations.
Paddy Power and its parent company Flutter Ent have since signed the Irish Bookmakers Association’s Safer Gambling Code. But the refusal of William Hill caused strong tensions in the sector.
The British bookmaker’s stance has undermined attempts by the IBA to improve behavior ahead of significant government developments in the coming weeks, with the appointment of a CEO designate for gambling regulation.
A spokesperson for William Hill claimed he had not signed the code of practice because he was not a member of the IBA.
“William Hill cannot become a member of the Irish Bookmakers Association as the body only represents retail operators in Ireland,” he said.
“If this were to change, we will explore the option of
join the IBA.
“We look forward to an evidence-based review of gambling law by the Irish government, and we will, of course, comply with any updated regulations in the new state legislation.”
Without directly naming William Hill or its affiliates, Irish Bookmakers Association chair Sharon Byrne said that all other betting companies that operate in Ireland, including those that only have an online presence (rather than in the window), have signed the code.
“I can’t force people to pass legislation, but in recommending codes of practice we’re seeing tremendous buy-in and buy-in from our members,” she said.
“I am not a regulator, so we can only encourage our members’ best practices on customer protection, anti-money laundering, GDPR and other issues.”
With the appointment of a CEO for betting regulation due to take place by the end of the year, the IBA Code is seen as vital for the industry to lead and support change in the industry. industry for the better.
Ending the use of credit cards to fund betting accounts and banning television advertising – especially “Whistle-to-Whistle” commercials
broadcast immediately before and during live televised events – the IBA said it was vital for the industry to lead by example.