An independent Irish investigation shows the country’s biggest online betting companies continue to allow credit card betting through their apps, despite industry rules saying this shouldn’t happen.

One of the companies, BoyleSports, was also found to allow betting and withdrawals without account verification or photo ID, despite industry age rules requiring verification.

Another company, Paddy Power, said there is a “loophole” for credit card betting in Ireland as it does not have the same strict gambling laws as the UK. The briefing comes as a leading expert on gambling addiction in Ireland says the number of problem gamblers here could now be three times higher than official estimates of 40,000.

And former Paddy Power chairman Fintan Drury told the Irish Independent The pace of the government’s plans to appoint a gambling regulator to tackle issues such as credit card betting is “abysmal”.

Credit card gambling is described by experts as particularly dangerous and is severely restricted in countries like the UK, which has stricter gambling laws than Ireland.

The government has said here that it intends to restrict credit card betting by appointing a gambling regulator, which is expected next year.

“Credit card betting is a major problem,” said Barry Grant, CEO and Founder of Problem Gambling Ireland and an adviser specializing in gambling addiction.

“Most of the people we work with have access to many credit cards. And there are plenty of workarounds, with things like PayPal being related to credit cards. Many of the big betting companies here should answer to the UK gambling regulator, but we don’t have any here.

Asked how many people suffer from gambling addiction in Ireland, Mr Grant said the previously quoted figures of between 30,000 and 40,000, or 0.8% of the population, are “a long way off”.

“It’s maybe up to three times that figure, if you consider that across the border in the North it’s 2.3%,” he said.

“And there is another 5pc considered at risk.”

Most major betting companies in Ireland have signed up to the Irish Bookmakers Association’s voluntary Safer Gambling Code, which prohibits credit card gambling.

However, two of the biggest companies – Paddy Power and BoyleSports – have defended credit card betting as it goes through ‘third party’ payment apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Revolut.

They said betting companies cannot see which Apple Pay, Google Pay or Revolut payments come from credit or debit cards.

This way, a spokesperson said the companies were not technically in breach of Safer Gambling Code rules.

However, Revolut has over 1.2 million users in Ireland, while industry figures show Apple Pay and Google Pay are now a common contactless payment method for credit card holders.

Online gambling is now a central part of betting company revenue, rising from 26% to 39% of the multi-billion dollar industry here, according to a recent industry report.

Nearly half of online betting is done from phones, with companies investing heavily in their apps.

Asked about the “loophole” in credit cards in Ireland that companies are using to justify accepting more bets, a spokesman for Deputy Justice Minister James Browne declined to comment specifically.

“The (Gaming Regulatory) Authority will have the discretion, based on its expertise, to react quickly and resolve all issues and concerns related to payment methods and the risks associated with them,” he said. he said, referring to the regulator’s prerogative to include the credit card. payments within its attributions.

Last week the Irish Independent revealed that another betting app, LiveScore Bet, refused to delete a betting account despite six direct requests.

The company, which now exclusively streams hundreds of European football matches in its app for those who sign up, apologized for the incident.