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Online gambling in a time of crisis


Sir, – We are writing to ask that the chief executives of Paddy Power/Betfair, Boyle Sports, Ladbrokes and other gambling operators immediately implement mandatory deposit and spending limits on their online gambling platforms in Ireland for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdown. A system of mandatory deposit limits already exists for the National Lottery’s online platform.

Several European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Portugal, have already implemented restrictions on online gambling and advertising on the basis that people are more vulnerable to gambling problematically during the lockdown. On April 21st, the UK’s culture minister wrote to the chief executives of the five largest gambling operators to ask them “to take extra steps to protect players at this time of heightened risk”.

Live sport is extremely limited at the moment, so vulnerable people are turning to virtual sports, online slots and casino gambling. According to the Gambling Commission, 9.2 per cent who bet on casino games online had an addiction, in contrast with 2.5 per cent of online sports gamblers.

The UK’s gambling self-exclusion service, Gamstop, has experienced a large increase in people seeking to break their self-exclusion, since the lockdown began. In Australia, consumer spending on online gambling has increased by 67 per cent in recent weeks.

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