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Bookmakers have cautioned that Ireland’s proposed ban on gambling advertising could block Premier League football and other live sports from being broadcast in the country.

Ireland is currently in the midst of updating its gambling legislation, with the Gambling Regulation Bill currently being debated in its parliament.

However, as first reported by the Irish Times, the Irish Bookmakers’ Association (IBA) raised concerns over a provision that would ban gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9:30pm to protect children and young people from exposure to gambling.

They argued that the ban, if not phrased correctly, could inadvertently block live sports broadcasts from other countries, including English Premier League football, where gambling companies are frequently displayed through advertising and sponsorship.

The bookmakers have written to Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister of State James Browne, emphasising that the broadly drafted nature of the provision is causing confusion while urging for clarifications to be made.

The provision reads: “A person shall not knowingly advertise, or cause another person to advertise, a relevant gambling activity on television, radio or an on-demand audiovisual media service between the hours of 5:30am and 9:30pm.”

The IBA highlights Premier League football as an example, but suggested the provision could also impact broadcasts of prominent horse racing events such as the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, or any overseas events where betting ads are visible to viewers.

Further concerns

The Gambling Regulation Bill aims to establish a new licensing regime and create a new agency, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, to oversee the industry.

The IBA, while supportive of the bill, also cautioned that other sections, as currently formulated, may not provide optimal consumer protection and could lead to future legal challenges.

They specifically highlight concerns about the definition of inducements to gamble and provisions related to the closure of inactive online betting accounts, maximum stakes, and payouts.

The association stressed the importance of a clear and unambiguous legislative framework with robust consumer protections.

They acknowledged the time pressure faced by the Department of Justice to advance the bill before the summer recess, but urged officials to address the issues raised by all stakeholders before final passage.