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Flutter reveals £30m safer gambling hit and slump in UK online betting

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Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment has revealed a £30 million hit from safer gambling measures while online revenues slumped as punters bet less following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

The group revealed that first-quarter UK and Ireland online revenues tumbled 20% compared with a year earlier when the UK and Ireland were in lockdown and it also enjoyed a run of favourable sports results.

It said the impact of proactive steps taken ahead of safer gambling regulations due to come in across the UK had cost it £30 million over the past year.

Bookies are waiting for the Government’s White Paper on its review of the Gambling Act, expected in the next few weeks, for clarity on what safer gambling measures will be needed in the UK.

Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson said he hopes the White Paper will “help to level the playing field and encourage other players to put in place similar measures”.

The group’s update also showed that its UK betting shop estate bounced back close to pre-pandemic levels as punters return to high street bookies.

The group said first-quarter revenue in the UK chain recovered to stand 6% lower on a two-year comparison.

But it warned that the Irish betting shop chain will take longer to rebound and remained 24% lower than the same quarter in 2019 “reflecting the higher level of societal caution with respect to Covid”.

Mr Jackson said the group is not yet seeing signs of an impact from the cost-of-living crisis on its customers.

But he added: “There’s no doubt cost of living will impact customer’s expenditure.

“The sense to which that impacts our business we’ll need to see.”

Overall, Flutter said first-quarter group revenues rose 6% to £1.6 billion in the first three months of 2022 as its fast-growing US business, FanDuel, offset the UK impact.

It said the US market accounted for more than half of all stakes for the wider group over the first quarter.

US revenues surged 45% to £429 million and helped Flutter notch up a 15% jump in average monthly players to 8.9 million worldwide.

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