Britain’s largest betting company has been accused of exploiting the pandemic as it reported a surge in business during the first three months of 2021.
Flutter – whose brands include Sky Betting and Gaming, Paddy Power and Betfair – saw its online revenue jump in the UK and Ireland by 35 per cent for the first quarter of the year, when compared to the same period in 2020.
The bookmaker also witnessed a 23 per cent year-on-year growth in monthly players, with its online business attracting 593,000 new customers over the same period.
Commenting on the figures, former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “These figures from the country’s biggest firm should send a chill down the spine of ministers dragging their feet over the tough regulation we need.
“Especially as we know the biggest losers are more likely to come from our poorest communities.”
gambling companies are cashing in on coronavirus as families are driven into debt and destitution Carolyn Harris MP
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (APPG), tweeted: “The third lockdown has been brutal for the legion of gambling addicts in the UK suffering in silence.
“These massive losses show that gambling companies are cashing in on coronavirus as families are driven into debt and destitution.”
Last year, the betting industry was shown to have used predatory tactics to tempt back former gambling addicts during the lockdown.
In June 2020, the APPG noted how the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted the need for more restrictions, especially online, where people were able to “gamble with ease from home, at any time of day and at any level, via a mobile phone”.
The Government is currently considering reforms to gambling law, which could see the most significant changes to advertising and the running of the industry since the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005.