he boss of gambling giant Flutter Entertainment said he watched the Fifa World Cup final “through my fingers” as the match cost the business heavily in payouts.
The Paddy Power and Betfair owner said it had seen a record number of customers take to its platforms every month though the last quarter of 2022, helped by the football tournament being moved to the winter.
The number of players who gambled with Flutter hit 12.1 million a month on average during the quarter, it said.
While the World Cup final was a real spectacle to watch and very entertaining, I was watching it through my fingers because it was a very expensive event for us
“While the World Cup final was a real spectacle to watch and very entertaining, I was watching it through my fingers because it was a very expensive event for us with all that goal scoring and Argentina winning,” chief executive Peter Jackson said.
“And then the Premier League came back and we saw a flurry of the favourites winning, so that cost us a lot of money at the back end of last year.”
The business said that “customer-friendly sports results” had cost it nearly £40 million in December.
Flutter’s revenue grew by 27% to £7.7 billion last year, with pre-tax loss hitting £275 million, down from £288 million the year before.
The company said that around 8% of its customers started using its safer gambling tools, bringing the total to around two in five.
Asked why customers had to opt in to using these tools, rather than forcing them to opt out, Mr Jackson said: “You have to look at the tools, there’s not a single tool that we ask everybody to use, there’s a variety of different tools available to customers.
“What we’ve found is that if customers set their own limits, for example, it’s much more effective in terms of them putting in place limits with which they’re comfortable.
He added: “For us to try to determine which of the dozens of different tools and capabilities we have we’d want to mandate for our customer base, I think would be quite difficult.”
The business does have deposit limits for everyone who is younger than 25 in the UK.