Politicians Voice Concern over Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill

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The Irish government is facing growing opposition from politicians from all parties to certain parts of its proposed new Gambling Regulation Bill. Politicians in the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parties feel some parts of the bill may even lead to the closure of some racecourses in the country.

Most stakeholders in the gaming industry believe that gambling legislation in Ireland generally needs to change to meet the technological advances that have arisen in the modern era. However, some of the measures are seen as draconian, particularly the daytime advertising ban on media platforms.

Most commentators agree that there should be robust guidelines regarding responsible gambling in the gaming industry, but there is a worry about the potential unintended consequences any new legislation will have on the betting industry.

I and others are very concerned that the regulations will have unintended consequences when it comes to small racing tracks. While everyone agrees on the need for a regulator, if this Bill goes too far, it will become politically contentious.

Michael LowryTipperary TD

Daytime Ban on TV Gambling Advertising

One of the main points of contention seems to be the proposal to prohibit TV advertisements relating to gambling between the hours of 5.30 am and 9 pm. This is to stop children from being exposed to gambling advertisements.

This will also include the racing channels, Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing, even though these are subscription media platforms for adults only. As a result, the racing channels say this position is not sustainable and are threatening to withdraw from the Irish racing scene.

The revenue from gambling advertising during domestic racing hours is seen as vital for major stakeholders in the racing industry. The loss of this revenue and live coverage of horse racing could spell financial disaster for the industry.

Racecourses in Ireland have a significant impact on the local economy, especially in rural areas where they are an employer in the local community, and race days bring in additional resources to the local economy. These racecourses rely on revenue from the broadcast companies and could face closure under new legislation.

It will be seen as yet another anti-rural measure. For a huge coterie of people, the racecourse plays a huge part in their lives, be they owners or punters. A measure that takes away that way of life will generate huge anger, and a Government TD who is seen to be responsible for the closing of a much-loved racing track will not be forgotten or forgiven.

Michael LowryTipperary TD