Flutter Entertainment Hires Tom Watson to Help Strengthen Problem Gambling Controls

Tom Watson

Flutter Entertainment looks to strengthen controls regarding problem gambling with the hiring of former deputy leader of the UK Labor party, Tom Watson.

For gambling companies, it is important to have problem gambling controls in place, as well as a solid plan to help players in need of assistance. Most regions require operators to focus on problem gambling and to follow certain restrictions in order to avoid servicing players with a problem. For Flutter Entertainment, the operator has decided to hire a new advisor to assist in strengthening their problem gambling controls. Tom Watson is the former deputy leader of the UK Labor party who is now helping the Irish operator to ensure they are taking the right steps in player protection.

Advising Flutter Entertainment

Watson will provide advise to the operator, who is in charge of several major brands including Sky Betting & Gaming, PokerStars and Paddy Power. Watson’s role will include determining the best practices to use at betting shops as well as with anti-money laundering procedures, marketing campaigns and customer service.

Flutter has been talking with Watson for some time and have finally agreed to a deal. Watson will receive a retainer for his advising role which will be no more than six figures, but the exact amount is unknown.

For quite some time, Watson acted as an anti-gambling lobbyist, working to see the government reform gambling law in the UK. His work paid off as the gambling law is expected to be reviewed this fall. Watson has pushed for many changes, including implementing a credit card gambling ban. This change was made in April, with players no longer able to use a credit card to fund accounts.

Protecting Vulnerable Players

The appointment of Watson to Flutter Entertainment comes at a time when the gambling industry has faced tough criticism regarding player protection. Media reports have shown companies and their questionable practices to bring in vulnerable gamblers as well as reports showing operators who have failed to stop self-excluded players from gambling.

Once reports started surfacing, the UK Gambling Commission got to work quickly to chastise operators. Several big fines were placed on companies that offer gambling and betting services. Big players in the industry have committed to improving anti-money laundering practices as well as responsible gambling measures.

Paddy Power was one such company facing criticism. Back in August, it was revealed that a player named Liam McCarron complained that Paddy Power took bets from him over a three year time frame and it should have been obvious to them that he was vulnerable and could not have been employed.

Ladbrokes Coral was also a part of the case. McCarron was a business owner and had a medical procedure completed where he was severely injured. His speech and movement was impaired and he was given compensation for the harm inflicted. Ladbrokes staff members reportedly knew of this payout.

McCarron claims he had apparent problem gambling behavior and was gambling beyond his means. The two bookmakers are accused of failing to interfere with the excessive gambling which caused the player to lose hundreds of thousands.

Stepping Up their Efforts

Watson has commented on his appointment with Flutter, stating that the company convinced him that they were serious about letting him learn how they operate and share his thoughts on what they are doing.

According to Peter Jackson, the CEO of Flutter, he wanted to bring in Watson to lead the race to the top of the industry by way of responsible gambling. Jackson feels that Watson will hold a mirror up to the company and help them make sure they are getting the balance right. It will be interesting to see what Watson finds within the company and if any changes are made based on his review.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.