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Gaelic PA want ban on betting ads during live sports broadcasts

Ireland gambling industry overhaul

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) are lobbying the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to introduce a ban on bookmakers running adverts during live broadcasts of hurling and football fixtures. This development could potentially mirror the situation in the UK, where gambling firms have committed to a voluntary ban on betting-related commercials from five minutes before an event begins until five minutes after the end of the match.

The GPA are the representative body for Gaelic football and hurling players in Ireland, focusing on welfare of members and allowing them to express an opinion about key issues related to their sports. The organisation have been recognised by the GAA since 2010, so there is some weight in the request to look at the effect of gambling adverts during TV coverage of matches.

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There has been a proposal for a motion to be heard in the GAA Congress, but that idea has been rejected in favour of a discussion at Central Council. If a ban is introduced as part of an official rule change, the GAA would be the first sporting organisation in the world to adopt such a measure. Seamus Hickey represents the GPA and he will try to get support from the Central Council to introduce a formal policy. The objective is for a rule change to be passed at the 2021 GAA Congress.

Another contentious issue for debate and a possible vote is the proposed introduction of black cards and sin bins in hurling matches. A recent survey of more than 1,100 inter-county players showed that 89 per cent of hurlers opposed the move. The CEO of the GPA, Paul Flynn, summed up the reaction to his members’ concerns by saying: “We’re urging all delegates to support the views of the players at Congress.”

The GPA elaborated on why the players feel there should be an initiative to prohibit betting adverts during live TV coverage of Gaelic football and hurling. They also highlighted the cultural element of betting in Gaelic sports and outlined the association’s plans to work with broadcasters to remove the link between gambling ads and the GAA.

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“Gambling promotion during GAA games presents a heightened risk to the welfare of all members of the GAA but particularly children and those most vulnerable to the perils of this destructive addiction,” the GPA said in a statement.

“The proliferation of online betting and the availability of betting advertising around Gaelic Games has helped develop a worrying cultural issue with gambling in the GAA.

“We believe that the GAA, through its relationships with its broadcast partners, has the ability to prevent the broadcast of gambling ads during matches. Removing this intrinsic link between inter-county games and betting advertising reduces the risk of vulnerable members of the association developing issues with problem gambling.

“The GPA provides 24/7 counselling support to all members and see first-hand the impact of gambling addiction on players who have accessed support. In light of the impact of gambling addiction has had on many of our members, the GPA wish to remove any direct link to gambling advertising and our members.”

In the UK, the gambling industry has been forced to self-regulate in the face of negative press and a lack of support from the British parliament. Although UK bookmakers have agreed to an advertising ban during live sports broadcasts, there are questions over the effectiveness of such measures. Betting firms have a history of exploiting regulatory loopholes, while shirt sponsorships, pitch-side advertising and online marketing provide plenty of opportunities for bookies to get their message across.

It will be interesting to see if the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in England follow in the footsteps of their Irish counterparts. It seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, as many football clubs in the English Premier League and EFL Championship have commercial partnerships with online bookmakers.

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