Ireland’s parliament has released research into gambling advertising regulations, as pressure builds for a crackdown ahead of the country’s much-anticipated legal update.
“Children and problem gamblers are particularly influenced by gambling advertising,” the research concludes, suggesting these groups must be considered at the core of a new advertising framework.
Although the review does not make specific recommendations, it does highlight that some studies have found that sports-related gambling advertising influences problem gamblers more than casual sports bettors.
It also mentions the findings of a 2020 review of the available research evidence linking exposure to gambling advertising with increases in gambling and problem gambling behaviour.
Additionally, one of its “key messages” is that “a number of countries have introduced restrictions around gambling advertising, including watershed bans and in some cases have sought to limit overseas gambling entities advertising products in their country”.
Both the gambling industry and public health stakeholders called for advertising codes during several rounds of recent Joint Committee on Justice hearings that are part of pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the long-awaited Gambling Regulation Bill.
However, the two sets of stakeholders do diverge in their views.
Gambling industry representatives want advertising regulations to recognise “clear distinctions between different types of gambling advertising and avoid unintended consequences through over-simplistic approaches (such as measures which effectively ban any sponsorship of sport or which ban outdoor advertising)”, according to the review.
Whereas health stakeholders want “extensive restrictions on gambling advertising, particularly around sport (including a ban on gambling advertising before the watershed and strict penalties for targeting gambling adverts towards vulnerable groups)”.
A core function of the new Gambling Regulatory Authority under the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill will be to “develop appropriate safeguards to protect individuals from the harms of problem gambling through the regulation of gambling-related advertising”.
The gambling advertising regulatory framework in Ireland is based on guidelines set by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland.
Members of the Irish Bookmakers Association did introduce a safer gambling code in January 2022, which included a pre-watershed ban on Irish channels and a whistle-to-whistle ban for live sport, excluding horse or greyhound racing.
Separately, an update on the Gambling Regulation Bill was given by James Browne, the minister of state at the Department of Justice, in response to a question posed by politician Verona Murphy on July 26.
Murphy wanted clarification that it is not currently possible to be licensed to offer online gambling and that enforcement against illegal gambling is taking place, including the number of prosecutions over the past three years.
Browne ensured Murphy that enforcement was dealt with by An Garda Síochána, the national police, and said the pathway for the new licensing legislation is “progressing” and that the independent regulator will be operational in 2023.
Recruitment of the CEO of the new regulator is still “underway”, but the Department of Justice told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that the selection process was in its “final stages” in July 2022.