News & Media

Labour Launches Bill to Beat Gambling Advertising

17 February 2021

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
  • Bill would ban all advertising of gambling in Ireland
  • Experts report increase in gambling disorder referrals since Covid lockdown
  • Public consultation launched to tackle scourge of gambling

The Labour Party today published draft legislation to end the link between entertainment and betting by banning the advertisement of gambling. If enacted, the Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021, would ban all gambling advertisement in Ireland, divorcing the gambling industry from the everyday enjoyment of sports, politics and entertainment. The #BeatTheAds campaign has been broadly welcomed by key stakeholders including members of the GAA and the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland.

Publishing the Bill, Labour spokesperson on Sport Senator Mark Wall said:

“Gambling addiction is a silent scourge across the nation, which is why the Labour Party has published legislation to address this national problem. In 2019, Ireland had the 7th highest gambling spend in the world at €9.8 billion (or €379.51 per head). Our legislation to #BeatTheAds will prevent unnecessary encouragement of gambling – banning all gambling ads across the media, on public transport, billboards and online outlets.

“The gambling industry has worked particularly hard to create a strong link in our minds between major sports events and betting. Watching a match, we are bombarded with reminders to download gambling apps, or put a few bob on the score. In broadcast media alone, 75.4% of sporting broadcasts show at least one gambling advertisement. In fact, gambling ads are the most common during sporting events televised in Ireland, and the 7th most common form of ad shown in general.

“This legislation is more important now than ever. There have been big changes in recent years in the ease with which people can gamble due to our smartphones. Whereas previously there was some limit to the damage that could be caused as a result of people having to go to betting shops, now any one can gamble any amount of money on their phone in an instant.

“The stresses of COVID-19 have challenged the resilience and coping strategies of us all but particularly individuals with addictions who are finding it even harder to continue in their recovery and avoid relapse.”

Speaking about the legislation, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“Gambling is an addiction and it should be treated as such. We’re introducing legislation to ban the manipulation carried out by the industry which is one step forward in addressing this issue. This should be treated as a public health issue and we need to ensure that there are adequate supports in place to help those suffering from addiction.

“In its Gambling Disorder Position paper, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland notes anecdotal information that indicates a concerning rise in gambling disorders referrals since Covid lockdowns due to isolation, with more opportunity to gamble while working from home and higher levels of targeted online advertising.

“They see the consequences of gambling addiction on a daily basis and they have called for an immediate ban on all gambling advertising. That is what our legislation does, it is informed by medical professionals who are at the coalface of this particular public health issue.

“We are now asking for the public to share their experiences of gambling and the targeted advertising that they receive from the industry. We want views on how we can break the link between the enjoyment of sports and betting once and for all.”

ENDS

The public consultation is available at this link: https://www.labour.ie/gambling

The draft Bill is available at this link: https://www.labour.ie/assets/files/pdf/draft_gambling_prohibition_of_advertising_bill.pdf