Ireland Lawmakers Push Gambling Advertising Ban, Claims Industry ‘Poisoning’ Families

Posted on: February 21, 2021, 11:03h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2021, 08:09h.

A group of lawmakers in Ireland are calling for a ban on gambling advertising everywhere other than in sports.

Ireland Gaming Advertising
A Paddy Power sports betting bus stop shelter board is seen here in Dublin, Ireland. The Labour Party wants to reduce the number of gambling advertisements in the republic. (Image: EPA)

The Labour Party, currently part of the opposition in both legislative houses, believes gambling advertising is harming the population.

[Gambling is] poisoning individuals and families across the country,” said Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the party’s spokesperson.

Senator Mark Wall (Lab-Kildare) says gambling should be treated in the same manner as alcohol and tobacco.

“Gambling advertising is in your face. It’s constant, and what we have to do now is try and address that,” Wall stated.

The Labour Party published a draft bill this week that seeks public input regarding gambling advertising. After it receives feedback, the party says it will introduce a final piece of legislation that will seek to overhaul regulations regarding gambling advertising.

The Senate recently heard a report that up to €10,000 (USD$12,117) is spent online on gambling each minute, 24/7, in Ireland. The study found that there are at least 29,000 people in Ireland who classify as gambling addicts.

The Case Against Sports Betting

While legal sports betting has only recently emerged nationwide in the US, it’s long been rampant throughout Great Britain, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. The Labour Party, as well as some mental health experts, argues that the close relationship between sports betting and professional sports has wrongly normalized gambling.

“Betting has become strongly linked with the enjoyment of sports. We are normalizing gambling as a behavior,” said Colin O’Gara, a professor at the College of Psychiatrists, to the Irish Times.

Much like tobacco, in ten years, I think we will look back on the proliferation of gambling advertising in sport and entertainment and ask ourselves how we let it get so out of control,” O’Gara added.

The Labour Party gambling advertising bill does not currently go so far as to call for an immediate ban on gambling advertising during sports. But leaders say the conversation should be had.

Current Gambling Advertising Regulations

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) is an independent body organized and financed by the advertising industry. The group is designed to promote the highest standards of marketing communications.

ASAI says any gambling-related advertising should always include a message encouraging responsible play. Gambling advertising, the ASAI explains, should not encourage or promote socially irresponsible gambling behavior, or suggest that gambling could be a way to resolve financial problems.

Ireland is home to Paddy Power, a bookmaker that has a long history of testing advertising standards. The company’s most notorious incident is when it offered odds on whether President Barack Obama would be assassinated in his first term. It also faced scolding for running an ad during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign that asked, “Orange is the New Black?”

As for alcohol and tobacco, advertisements must not run during television programs that are primarily intended for children. Actors in such commercials should be at least 25 years of age and look as such. Ads for both categories should warn of the dangers of alcohol and tobacco consumption.