Ireland Could Restrict Gambling Ads In Sport, Say Researchers

January 9, 2023
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Ireland needs a targeted focus on higher-risk groups of the population such as sports players in its pending legislation, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute.

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Ireland needs a targeted focus on higher-risk groups of the population such as sports players in its pending legislation, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The ESRI provides evidence-based research used to inform public policy debate and decision-making.

Its conclusions are based on an analysis of the longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study, which revealed “almost a four-fold increase in engagement in online gambling among a nationally representative cohort of young people in Ireland between the ages of 17/18 and 20 years”.

The data was gathered from more than 4,500 young people who were interviewed in 2015-16 when the study participants were 17/18 years and followed up in 2018-19 when they were 20 years old.

“Of particular interest was the association between gambling behaviours and team sports participation over time,” said researchers.

Other potential influences on gambling behaviour include sex, education, employment and socio-economic background, as well as health-related risk behaviours including smoking or drinking alcohol.

The group suggested that legislation could be introduced to restrict gambling advertising in sports as an effective method of protecting some of those who are especially vulnerable to gambling harm.

There is already a proposed watershed prohibiting gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9:00pm, a credit card gambling ban and regulator powers to prohibit inducement offers and promotions in the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022.

Despite this, the ESRI study is just the latest in a growing chorus of commentary warning stricter rules may be needed.

Similar concerns were raised by Michael Guerin, an addiction counsellor at Cuan Mhuire, a residential addiction treatment provider.

Guerin told local media he has seen an eight-fold increase in women seeking treatment for gambling addiction in just four years and a 20-fold increase in people seeking treatment for gambling and drug or alcohol addiction.

The counsellor believes more education and prevention treatment are needed, including more specialised treatment centres for gambling-related issues.

Several other gambling treatment and charity stakeholders have also begun to voice their concerns with the contents of the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 in the press.

Organisations such as Extern Problem Gambling, an Irish-based non-profit, have called the lack of affordability checks a “big miss”.

Extern also criticised the lack of a unified self-exclusion system and the absence of loot box regulations.

The bill completed the second stage in the Dáil (the lower house) on December 6 and is now before the Oireachtas for consideration. It sets out the framework for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, and a regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector.

Affordability checks are not provided for in the bill as published, although the bill prohibits the offer or extension of credit (of any kind) or loans or similar facilities to players of licensed services or activities, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“This means that where a player has exceeded the amount they have deposited they will not be able to avail of any credit options, credit notes, tokens, loans, etc., and will have to pay via a permitted payment method to continue playing,” the Department of Justice said.

Additionally, the bill empowers the new regulator to set limits on the amount of money that may be bet when gambling online and limit the number of bets a person may make with licensees within a particular timeframe, the spokesperson added.

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