A researcher in Ireland has defended a recent gambling study’s findings that Flutter Entertainment’s chief executive said were inaccurate. Peter Lunn, an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) professor, led the study that found that about 1-in-30 adults in Ireland are problem gamblers, which equates to about 130,000 people.
Flutter CEO Peter Jackson claimed that the ESRI used outdated sources to conduct the research, pointing to an NHS survey that showed gambling risk to be 0.4% of the total population, which would be the equivalent of 1-in-250 people.
ESRI’s data is “peer-reviewed, publicly available and, therefore, open to scrutiny”
Speaking to the Business Post, Professor Lunn claimed that Jackson’s sources are old and said that a more recent report from the UK Gambling Commission actually has a much bigger estimate of problem gambling rates in comparison to the ESRI’s findings. Lunn also remarked that the ESRI’s data is “peer-reviewed, publicly available and, therefore, open to scrutiny.”
More realistic survey methods
Peter Jackson was speaking last week on the day that Flutter reported its total 2023 revenue of £9.5bn ($12bn). He admitted to not personally seeing the ESRI report and was told that it suggests that gambling is a “bigger societal issue than our real-life experience or any of independent research that we’ve seen would indicate.”
levels of at-risk gamblers were ten times greater than in a 2019 study
The ESRI report was eye-opening as it showed that the rates of problem gambling in the country were much higher than previously estimated. The levels of at-risk gamblers were ten times greater than in a 2019 study and these people account for over a quarter of the total sum gambled each year in Ireland.
Lunn explained that the much higher results in 2023 were because the previous estimates came from face-to-face interviews rather than anonymously. He said that people are usually more upfront about their true behavior when they can answer questions secretly.
Big changes coming to Ireland
The Department of Justice and the Implementation Team that is supporting the creation of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland commissioned the ESRI to conduct the study. The October publication came at a time when many industry stakeholders were lobbying against certain curtailments that the anticipated Gambling Regulation Bill would introduce when it likely goes into effect in the coming months.
Flutter Entertainment is headquartered in Ireland and has more than 12.3 million average monthly players around the world.
One of the big concerns relates to a ban on gambling-related ads on television between 5:30am and 9pm every day. Racing broadcasters, in particular, believe that this move could make televising the action “economically unviable.”
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