Ireland Has Gambling Advertising In Its Crosshairs

October 26, 2021
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An Irish cross-party parliamentary committee wants to immediately suspend any legal standing for gambling adverts that can be seen by children online.

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An Irish cross-party parliamentary committee wants to immediately suspend any legal standing for gambling adverts that can be seen by children online.

The recommendation will be made by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht when it publishes its response to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill next month, according to several local media reports.

The committee is set to demand a “moratorium on advertising to children online, including, at the very minimum, advertisements of junk food, alcohol, high fat/salt/sugar (HFSS) foods and gambling”.

Gambling advertising in Ireland currently lacks specific legislation.

Operators comply with relevant general advertising rules included in laws such as the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

Additionally, since 2016, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has specifically applied a code of rules to gambling marketing.

However, the ASAI rules do not apply to the marketing communications of the National Lottery, which are within the remit of the National Lotteries Act 2013.

A bill that would ban gambling ads is currently active in the Seanad, Ireland’s upper house of parliament, but its progress has not been updated since April 2021.

More recently, the government’s General Scheme of Gambling Regulation Bill aims to have a new independent gambling regulator operational by 2024.

Gambling advertising, including sponsorships, will be under the remit of the new regulator across all platforms and will have the power to issue new codes, as well as sanctions for breaches.

This includes the ability to limit the volume and frequency of gambling advertising, including during sports broadcasts.

Beyond the creation of a new advertising code, gambling adverts will not be allowed to be displayed on video-sharing platforms by default and must only appear if consumers agree to opt in to them.

All adverts or forms of promotions will have to include responsible gambling messages and information for players seeking help, a risk warning and messages reiterating the prohibition of children from engaging in gambling activities.

Any licensed operator will only be allowed to advertise on social media, by phone call, text message, email or any other remote means until consumers have given their consent to receiving them.

Social media providers must also provide consumers with an easily accessible “opt-out” from receiving the ads.

Breaching the advertising rules will lead to a warning, a fine, a suspension or part suspension of a licence or even prosecution proceedings.

Unlicensed operators that breach the code will be subject to the related broadcasting or advertising codes.

Separately, Ireland’s President recently criticised the proliferation of gambling advertising that accompanies major sporting events.

Additionally, Sinn Féin, Ireland’s second-largest political party, has repeatedly called for gambling advertising regulations to be updated as part of its “26 County Gambling Strategy”.

In September, Irish Bookmakers Association members agreed to implement a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban as part of its recently updated code of conduct.

This means that for sporting events before 9pm, gambling ads will not be shown from five minutes before the kick-off until five minutes after.

Major companies set to follow the code include Flutter, Entain, bet365 and Kindred.

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