Fears of Gambling Advertising and Sponsorship Bans

Advertising by betting companies looks to be in big trouble particularly in Ireland. This week saw a Justice Committee report about regulating the gambling industry recommend a ban before the 9pm watershed.

A Gambling Regulation Bill is due to become law in Ireland next year. The recommendations of the Justice Committee are expected to form a major part of that legislation.

The report gave evidence of the number of 15 and 16 year-olds who are “engaged in problem gambling in Ireland.’ The figure of 3,400 illustrates the depth of the problem in the country. One of the other recommendations of the report is to look at the way in which high profile personalities are used, particularly relating to horse racing.

It believes that their presence in advertisements may possibly be influencing minors to take up gambling. In the UK, there is an upcoming ban on the use of such personalities in betting advertisements.

Opposition to gambling advertisements came from the health industry. Their representatives told the report that: “It is hard not to see a gambling advert when turning on the radio, TV or (when looking) at social media.”

The gambling industry believe they should have a right to advertise their products. This should be part of any regulatory framework, they say. They feel that if there was a total ban, then “this would equalise the position of unregulated offshore providers.” The fear of driving customers to such providers is always there when strict regulation of licensed providers is imposed.

Ensuring that underage players don’t gamble is always a target of those looking to further regulate the industry. The report suggests the use of automated software that can be used to verify the age of a customer when they are registering with them.

Allowing background checks on those wanting to join sites is also recommended so that “financial vulnerabilities” may be evaluated. The report also looks at how much people can bet with stake limits a possibility. However, they fail to say whether any limits should be set by the gambling industry or imposed on them.

It’s unsure just how any ban would affect advertisements on billboards and in newspapers. How would bookmakers shops be affected? That’s not clear either after comments last year by Minister-of-State for Law Reform, James Browne.

He said that the shops might have to undergo change. Many have posters in their windows with details of the latest offers. That can clearly be seen as a form of advertising their products.

Meanwhile in the UK, the gambling industry is still waiting for the publication of a white paper about the review of the 2005 Gambling Act. There is talk of a ban on gambling companies sponsoring Premier League teams. A nervous few months therefore lies ahead.