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Proposed restriction on gambling advertising in Ireland raises concerns

Ireland gambling industry overhaul

The proposed restriction on gambling advertising in Ireland, as part of the Gambling Regulation Bill, has reached a significant stage in the legislative process. The bill, which aims to protect gamblers and promote responsible gambling, includes a ban on gambling advertisements on television and radio between 5:30 am and 9:00 pm.

One of the primary objectives of the proposed ban is to safeguard children from being exposed to gambling advertisements. However, concerns have been raised by bookmakers and broadcasters, particularly those focused on horse racing, about potential disruptions to live sports broadcasts. Betting advertisements, including bookmaker logos and promotions, are often visible in stadiums and on athletes’ clothing during sports events.

The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) has highlighted the impact this ban could have on English Premiership League games, which enjoy significant viewership in the Republic of Ireland. Other major events, such as Cheltenham and Aintree, may also be affected due to the visibility of bookmaker ads to viewers.

The Labour Party in Ireland supports a total ban on gambling advertisements and believes that the proposed ad restrictions from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm are insufficient, as gambling addiction is not limited to specific hours. Senator Mark Wall has expressed concerns about the negative consequences of gambling and the association of sports with betting.

In addition to bookmakers, horse racing-focused broadcasters, such as Sky Sports Racing and Racing TV, have expressed worries about the proposed ban. They are evaluating the feasibility of their operations in Ireland if the legislation is passed as currently drafted. These broadcasters are seeking an exemption for horse racing channels, arguing that they already implement protective measures for their viewers through their subscription-based platforms.

Racecourse Media Group (RMG), the parent company of Racing TV, which recently secured exclusive media rights to broadcast from all 26 Irish tracks until 2029, has cautioned that their service may no longer be viable in Ireland if the ban is implemented. RMG’s CEO, Martin Stevenson, emphasised the importance of television coverage for any sport and expressed concerns about the potential negative impact on the racing industry if dedicated racing channels are lost in Ireland.

The Gambling Regulation Bill has passed the committee stage and is now proceeding to the report stage, where proposed amendments will be evaluated. It will then go through the final stages in both houses of Parliament before becoming law.

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