The Irish Labor Party has published a bill to ban all advertising of gambling in the jurisdiction.
If entered into force, the 2021 Bill on Gambling (Advertising Ban) would prohibit all forms of gambling advertising except sponsorship. The party said the bill would separate the gambling industry from everyday enjoyment of sports, politics and entertainment.
While Labor is in opposition, Public Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Frankie Feighan has already said he would support “the core” of the bill, but he would need to read it before determining whether he would support the bill itself .
“Gambling addiction is a silent scourge across the country, which is why the Labor Party has passed laws to address this national problem,” said Labor Sports Spokesman Senator Mark Wall, who co-introduced the bill with TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
“In 2019 Ireland had the seventh highest gaming spending in the world at € 9.8 billion (or € 379.51 per capita). Our #BeatTheAds legislation prevents unnecessary gambling promotion – banning all gambling advertisements in the media, on public transport, on billboards and in online outlets. “
Wall said the gambling industry has worked hard to forge a strong link between sporting events and public betting.
Describing advertising for sports broadcasts as bombing, he stated that 75.4% of programs show at least one gambling advertisement and that gambling advertisements are the most common type of advertising shown on television and the seventh most common form of advertising that is shown generally.
He went on to say that changes brought about by the increased availability of games of chance on mobile devices mean anyone can now play any amount of money in the blink of an eye, while previously the need to go to a betting shop to gamble added potential harm limit.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin added: “Gambling is an addiction and should be treated as such. We are introducing laws to prohibit manipulation by industry. This is a step forward in addressing this issue. “
“This should be treated as a public health issue and we need to ensure that adequate support is available to help addicts.”
Ó Ríordáin referred to evidence from the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland showing a link between the high volume of advertising and an increase in gambling problems related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“They see the consequences of gambling addiction every day and are calling for an immediate ban on all gambling advertising,” he said.
“This is what our legislation does, it is informed by medical professionals who are at the forefront of this particular public health problem.”
Ó Ríordáin urged the Irish public to share their gambling experience and the targeted advertising they are receiving from the industry with the government on how to “break the link between enjoying sports and betting once and for all “.
In a debate by Dáil Éireann on addiction and homelessness today, Labor Party leader Alan Kelly said, “During the pandemic, I can guarantee that we will have a gambling crisis because people are spending so much time in isolation, alone or in family settings. It’s so deadly dangerous. It needs to be fully regulated and advertising needs to be dealt with. “
Kelly asked Feighan if he would support the bill, saying that Wall and Ó Ríordáin would consider changing their legislation.
“I haven’t seen the bill, but I would support its core,” replied the minister. “I don’t know what’s on the bill, but his mood is something I would support.”
Adding concern about the Irish youth population, MEP Thomas Gould said: “European school survey data show that Irish men between the ages of 15 and 16 gamble more than twice as much as the general population.”
In 2019, Minister of State David Stanton announced that the creation of a new gambling regulator in Ireland would take place over a period of around 18 months.
In September last year, it was announced that the start of the regulator would be postponed until at least 2021.
The new regulator was an aspect of the Irish Games and Lotteries Act (Amendment) 2019, which was incorporated into the Act in December 2019 and which came into force in December 2020.