The Irish Times reported this week the astonishing news that online gamblers may have more difficulty securing a mortgage than other applicants. Michael Dowling, a spokesman for the Independent Mortgages Advisers Federation (IMAF), told The Irish Times that banks now regarded online betting very negatively.
Dowling said that while indications that the applicant gambled online would not automatically disqualify that person from being granted a loan, it was one of the criteria being applied “in a market where they are looking for any excuses” to reject applications.
“The banks will never admit it,” said Mr Dowling, but “it is . . . being discussed . . . I don’t think online gambling is to be encouraged if people are making a mortgage application, in particular if there are regular amounts going out.”
The Times said that even punters who had mortgages could be at risk. "People betting as little as Euro 30 or Euro 40 a week might be putting their mortgage applications at risk," the Times opined. “Banks are paying a lot more attention to bank statements now . . . and if they see even Euro 150 going into an online gambling account each month they frown on it,” it reported, quoting Dowling.
Online gambling has mushroomed in recent years and Irish gamblers’ losses generate about Euro 100 million in annual profit for the industry, the newspaper claims.
A spokeswoman for Bank of Ireland refused to comment on whether it viewed online gambling accounts negatively on mortgage applications.
Ronan Sheridan of AIB said that while there was no policy that explicitly said online gambling would prevent a person getting a mortgage, he said the bank examined “anything that could impact on an applicant’s ability to repay”.
Earlier this week bookmaker Paddy Power announced that its online operating profit grew 34 per cent to Euro 42.8 million last year and said its web business had generated over 70 percent of its operating profit in the second half of last year.
The industry had the last word, with Paddy Power's communications manager Ken Robertson observing trenchantly: “Talk about double standards, Irish banks are the biggest gamblers in society!”
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