Ad Ban Remains ‘Stumbling Block’ in Irish Gambling Bill

January 22, 2024 | Sponsorship

Section 141 remains a significant hurdle, according to The Association of Irish Racecourses

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KILDRED, Ireland (January 22, 2024) — The fear that sponsorship could be curtailed as a result of the Gambling Regulation Bill has been dispelled after positive talks between industry representatives and the Irish government.

However, Section 141, which incorporates the controversial gambling advertising ban, remains a significant stumbling block, according to Paul Hensey, chief executive of the Association of Irish Racecourses.

The bill, which has been in the report stage in the Dail,  the Irish parliament, since July 12, paves the way for the introduction of a watershed that prevents gambling advertising between 5:30 am-9 pm local time, which Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing have warned will render their racing coverage in Ireland economically unviable.

Hensey revealed AIR and Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) had engaged in discussions with James Browne, the junior minister responsible for drafting the legislation, in the autumn, and that Browne gave clarification on a number of aspects within the bill that were potentially catastrophic for racecourses.

Hensey said: “We met James Browne in September and had a positive meeting. We spoke about our concerns in the bill as it is currently drafted and we got assurances on aspects such as bookmakers’ sponsorship on a racecourse, bookmakers’ signage, and winners’ rugs. He made a clear distinction between advertising and sponsorship, so that was all positive.

“We also spoke about betting shows on television, for example, if a betting correspondent is in the ring referring to market movers, and he said that was all fine given it is information, so that would be permitted for authorized racecourses.

“There were also other bits and pieces of concern, such as clauses 150 and 168-170 which referred to ATMs and bars. He accepted they were written for high street betting shops, so we got a lot of reassurances regarding on-course activity.”

Despite those discussions being largely positive for racecourses, there still seems to be a deadlock surrounding Section 141, and the threat of losing the television coverage of Irish racing looms large.

Hensey said: “The one stumbling block we still have is clause 141, which prohibits bookmaker advertising on television or radio between 5:30 am and 9 pm, and we haven’t made any more ground on that yet.

“We’re continuing to engage with the government on this. My understanding is that the bill is in the report stage, so we’re continuing to make representations. The meeting we had with the government was a joint representation, with AIR joined with HRI.”

While there is no clear timeline, it is understood that Browne is treating the bill as a matter of priority and that there will be a relatively short period between finalization and enactment, given the government already has an implementation team in place and a CEO for the new Gambling Regulatory Authority.

The Department of Justice published its spring legislative program recently and the bill was included along with six other pieces of legislation at the report stage.

“We don’t have an indication on a timeline yet and if or when the legislation does come in,” said Hensey. “We also don’t know whether it will be a gradual phasing in or more of an immediate implementation.

“I do think Section 141 is a very important issue. If it was to come through in its current format and it resulted in Racing TV not showing Irish racing in Ireland, that would be a very serious situation.”

By: Conor Fennelly/Racing Post

SOURCE: BloodHorse (

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