Paddy Power head steps down

Flutter is to change its auditor to Deloitte.
Flutter is to change its auditor to Deloitte.

Joe Lee is leaving Flutter Entertainment after 12 years.

Ireland.- Flutter Entertainment executive Joe Lee, most recently head of Paddy Power in the UK and Ireland, is ending a 12-year stint at the FTSE100 betting group. Lee announced on LinkedIn that he had made the decision to step down to take up new opportunities. 

Lee started at Paddy Power in 2008 as US sports senior trader at the company’s Dublin headquarters. He went on to serve in a number of senior management roles over 12 years, working in sports trading strategy and sportsbook product development. He oversaw the development of the Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) international sportsbook portfolio.

This position covered the optimisation of trading capacities for Sportsbet Australia and FanDuel US. In 2016, Lee was made Paddy Power’s Head of Trump Betting, with responsibility for overseeing market pricing for the volatile US presidential election.

Lee said: “The business transformation from what it was back in my initial Paddy Power days can only be described as immense, and I’m privileged to have been a little part of something so significant. I’ve learned so much along the way I’ve likely forgotten half of it – I’ll take that as a sign of a great place to work rather than old age!

“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of those colleagues I’ve interacted with throughout my time with the group be that in Europe, Australia or the US. People will always be the linchpin of any business and I’ve met some truly great ones all across Flutter.

“I’ll be taking time out to work on some personal projects and add to my list of Top 100 golf courses played, before embarking on my next challenge.”

Flutter seeks startups to enhance Paddy Power retail offering

Flutter Entertainment is seeking new startups to help it enhance the retail offering at its 625 Paddy Power betting shops in the UK and Ireland.

The company’s Alpha Hub “global innovation community” has opened a call for firms with “tenacious ideas” for the use of data and analytics, in-store experiences and the future of self-service terminals. 

Flutter said it wants to attract retail customers with a shop experience that “can’t be replicated online”. Amid the move to online and omni-channel betting verticals, Flutter says it wants to develop a “frictionless, intuitive self-service” offering, using reliable hardware and software. 

It wants to improve its in-store product and also enhance data collection and analysis from its shops to better use customer insights. Interested companies are also invited to share ideas on safer gambling and improving the retail-entertainment experience in general.

In February, Paddy Power announced plans to update more than 40 of its retail betting shops in the UK and Ireland with digital displays provided by BoscaSports. The upgrades will be complete by the end of 2022 trading, the bookmaker said.

Flutter to switch auditors

Meanwhile, Flutter Entertainment will switch its auditing services from KPMG to rival Deloitte after 20 years. The change comes because of a 2016 EU rule that comes into effect in 2024, obliging public-interest entities (PIEs) to change audit firm after 10 years. The rule aims to ensure auditors’ independence and objectivity.

Many companies are having to make changes as a result, creating what The Times has called a “merry-go-round for auditors” with the “big four” of KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY rotating big-name clients among themselves. However, Flutter is a particularly notable case, being “one of the most lucrative audit assignments in corporate Ireland” according to The Times’ report.

In 2021, KPMG earned £5.5m from its auditing of Flutter’s accounts.

The Times said: “More than £1.6m (was) received by the big four firm in Ireland and the balance paid to KPMG offices in Britain, America, Australia and other countries where Flutter has operations.

“Just six per cent was for non-audit services in 2021, with Flutter capping fees for these services at 70 per cent of what it pays for the audit.”

Flutter stressed that there was “no compelling reason” for its decision to change auditors other than the new EU rules.

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