Ireland’s Labour Party has enacted the Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021 which, if passed, will ban all gambling advertising, except sponsorship.
The bill has broad support from the Minister for Public Health and Fine Gael TD Frankie Feighan, although his firm backing will not be guaranteed until he has read the details of the legislation.
Describing gambling addictions as “a silent scourge across the nation”, Senator Mark Wall, who co-introduced the bill with TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, said: “In 2019, Ireland had the seventh-highest gambling spend in the world at €9.8bn.
“Our legislation to ‘#BeatTheAds’ will prevent unnecessary encouragement of gambling – banning all gambling ads across the media, on public transport, billboards and online outlets.”
Despite the legislation not moving to ban sponsorship, Wall expressed concern that the gambling industry had deliberately created a strong link in the minds of the public between sports events and betting.
He said 75.4% of sports broadcasts show at least one gambling advertisement, and that gambling ads outnumber any other shown during televised sports and are the seventh most common generally.
Ó Ríordáin added to the argument for enacting the ban by flagging evidence from the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland, which revealed a link a between the high volume of betting advertisements and higher rates of problem gambling during covid lockdowns.
Deputy Thomas Gould pointed to data on young people, which showed that problem gambling is more than twice a prevalent among Irish males between the ages of 15 and 16, than is the case in the rest of Europe.
The move also follows calls by two of Ireland’s leading sporting authorities, the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to ban gambling advertising.
Both organisations have implemented their own bans within Gaelic football and hurling. GPA player welfare manager Jennifer Rogers said the organisation would be “advocating strongly” for tighter regulation.
Ireland have been attempting to establish a gambling regulator since 2019 but has been delayed until later this year at the earliest.