Minister Has Hinted at a Potential Softening of the Government’s Stance on Proposed Ban on Gambling Advertising
DUBLIN, Ireland (October 27, 2023) — The Irish government is considering a proposed ban on gambling advertising that could affect the TV coverage of Irish racing. Minister Martin Heydon, a member of the Fine Gael party and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine, has hinted at a potential softening of the government’s stance on the issue. He has called for a “common sense approach” to address concerns within the racing industry regarding new gambling legislation introduced by junior minister James Browne.
One key aspect of Minister Browne’s gambling Bill is the proposal to ban gambling advertising between 5.30 am and 9 pm. This ban has raised concerns from TV channels like Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing, which hold broadcasting rights for Irish racing. They have threatened to leave the Irish market if they are not granted an exemption from the advertising ban, arguing that it would render their businesses in Ireland unviable.
Industry groups have also warned about the potential negative impact on the racing industry if live race coverage becomes unavailable. The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, in particular, has raised concerns about significant job losses and a decrease in the number of horses in training, as owners would not be able to watch live racing.
Some stakeholders argue that banning advertising will not effectively address problem gambling and could potentially drive punters to seek live racing pictures in other ways, such as visiting betting shops or signing up with online bookmakers.
As of the information provided, Minister Browne has not changed his position and maintains that punters in Ireland will still be able to watch Irish racing despite the proposed advertising ban.
Minister Martin Heydon, on the other hand, has expressed the need for “conciliatory dialogue” on the matter and emphasized the importance of finding a balance between implementing the legislation and not undermining the racing industry, which plays a vital role in rural Ireland and employs thousands of people. He believes that a common-sense approach can be achieved through further dialogue.
The proposed legislation is expected to be presented before the Dáil (Irish Parliament) soon, although there is speculation that it might be delayed until January due to the pressure of other legislative business.
Various figures within the racing industry, including champion trainer Willie Mullins, have expressed concerns about the potential advertising ban, arguing that racing should not be caught up in what they see as essentially a problem related to the broader gambling industry.
Racing and breeding are significant contributors to the Irish economy, supporting thousands of jobs and generating substantial revenue. The racing industry received €76 million in State funding in 2024, representing a 4.4 percent increase from the previous year, as announced in the budget.
SOURCE: LI ContributorTags: Ireland, Gambling Advertising Ban, online bookmakers