Irish Lawmaker Demands Gambling Ad Ban Ahead Of Key Debate

July 11, 2023
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An Irish senator has called on the government to “take a brave stance” and introduce an outright ban on gambling advertising.

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An Irish senator has called on the government to “take a brave stance” and introduce an outright ban on gambling advertising.

The demand by Mark Wall, the Labour Party sports spokesperson, comes as a key Select Committee on Justice debate on the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 is set to take place at 4pm today (July 11).

Once the bill has passed the committee stage, which is highly likely, it will enter its final stage in the Lower House before advancing to the Seanad Éireann, Ireland’s upper legislative house.

The bill in its current form would introduce a watershed prohibiting gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9:00pm, as well as a raft of other restrictions.

However, Wall feels these limits do not go far enough as people are “bombarded” with gambling ads in all forms of media and that the “sheer volume of these ads is having a huge impact on people vulnerable to gambling addiction”.

The senator says legislation, such as Labour’s recent bill that proposes to ban gambling ads, is the solution.

Labour’s Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021, introduced on April 19, 2021, would restrict gambling advertising. However, the bill has stalled and has not seen any progress since March last year.

Wall thinks that the upcoming debate is a good opportunity to scrutinise the advertising proposals in the primary gambling bill, as he does not believe they are currently fit for purpose.

“Too much grey area remains, with key elements left purposely vague. We cannot allow the betting industry to capture this piece of legislation that aims to regulate an industry that is currently a law unto itself,” Wall said.

His comments on the clarity of the bill echo those recently made by Regulus Partners in a four-part blog post published on June 30, which argue there are “serious drafting issues” with the bill “that are likely to undermine the purpose of the legislation”.

Regulus highlighted marketing and inducements restrictions as one of its four key concerns, claiming in its current form the bill addresses the issue in a “prescriptive and vague” manner which will likely end up “flooding courts” with legal challenges.

Wall said legislators still have time to “fix” the legislative problems and that it would be an “achievement” if the “Oireachtas sent a clear message to everyone struggling with addiction in this country”.

Labour in Ireland is only the fifth largest party in terms of election seats, but a push for more ad restrictions has also been made by other groups working with the government.

An Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) review commissioned by the Department of Justice and the implementation team for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) has 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.

The ESRI also found that Irish problem gambling has probably been underestimated and causes “serious harm”.

Regulating advertising will be the responsibility of the GRAI; however, it will not be fully established and operational until later this year.

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