Irish Government Dismisses Proposed Betting Advertising Ban Amendment
Despite considerable industry lobbying, the government of Ireland is not planning to exempt horseracing-facing television channels from a coming daytime ban on all betting sites gambling advertisements.
The Gambling Regulation Bill is currently making its way through the legislative process and contains a provision that would prohibit gambling and betting sites from advertising their wares via Irish television between 5:30am and 9:00pm.
Advocates of this embargo argue that the move is part of a public health campaign that will help diminish the prevalence of problem gambling in Ireland by limiting the exposure of children to such marketing.
Ireland’s Minister of State for the Department of Justice, James Browne, met with representatives from the Association of Irish Racecourses and Horse Racing Ireland earlier this week after the two bodies had raised concerns the proposed ban could potentially endanger the future of an industry annually worth approximately €2.46 billion ($2.66 billion) and currently employing some 30,000 locals.
In a letter to his Fianna Fail parliamentary party, Browne stated that Horse Racing Ireland used the summit to push for an exemption for two horseracing-focused broadcasters as it had recently entered into an arrangement ‘regarding the sale of exclusive television rights to Irish racing between 2024 and 2028 inclusive’.
However, Browne proclaimed that this deal was only inked in May after the preliminary tenets of the Gambling Regulation Bill were approved by a cross-party committee and been accepted by a majority of parliamentarians.
The 47-year-old politician additionally expressed his concern that Horse Racing Ireland could be seeking such a release ‘as this would be more commercially advantageous’.
Browne went on to pronounce that the exemption proposal from Horse Racing Ireland would breach ‘the principle of the gambling advertising ban’ and be ‘completely at odds’ with the stated aims of the cross-party committee and the government of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
He moreover asserted that such a deal ‘would not be legally sustainable’ as it could ‘discriminate against other sports’ and be ‘anti-competitive’ under current broadcasting rules.
“This proposal would in effect give a monopoly on gambling advertising in the state to these two channels,” Browne wrote.
Ireland is home to approximately 5.1 million people and Browne asserted that gambling ‘is not a harmless activity’ with any rise in the prevalence of problem gambling being ‘extremely dangerous’.
The minister additionally declared many have urged him to go further in terms of tough regulations on the betting industry but that he currently believes the coming watershed advertising prohibition ‘is the most appropriate position’.
Browne stated that the technical amendments for the Gambling Regulation Bill are expected to be brought forward soon but will not include any prohibitions on trackside betting, the number of races, the sponsorship of jockey’s colours or the presence of on-course advertising.
“In short, there is no legal impediment arising from the gambling legislation that in any way inhibits the showing of horseracing as is currently broadcast,” Browne wrote.
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