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Ad ban survives in first set of amendments to Irish gambling bill

| By Marese O'Hagan
A gambling ad ban proposed in Ireland's Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 has survived the first stage of the amendments process in the Oireachtas, Ireland's national parliament.
Irish ad ban

The Gambling Regulation Bill was first approved in November 2022. The newest version of the bill, published 12 July, included a number of amendments. These amendments were made in the select committee on justice.

But the controversial proposed ban on gambling ads across the country remained in full. This is despite opposition from industry bodies and broadcasters, particularly in the racing sector.

The bill proposes a watershed ban on gambling advertising for radio and television between 5.30am and 9pm. This effectively wipes viewable hours for advertising from broadcaster’s rosters.

The ban also essentially covers all aspects of electronic communication, including video-sharing platforms, text message, email and social media. The choice to opt-in to social media gambling advertising was proposed in another version of the bill, published in December 2022.

The gambling ad ban could result in a class A fine or a maximum 12 months in prison or both, if convicted under summary conviction. If convicted on indictment, the accused could be handed a fine or imprisoned for a maximum of five years.

Although the ban has faced criticism from some industry actors, the bill itself has received support within the industry. In April, Ireland’s Department of Justice voiced support for the progression of the bill, outlining it as one of its “key priorities” for 2023.

Various amendments

While the proposed ban on gambling ads has remained firm, the amended bill would have a wider influence on other laws.

If the bill is passed, it would amend Ireland’s Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996. This would occur by inserting a new section prohibiting the employment of under-18s in gambling activities.

Elsewhere, the bill would establish a main regulatory body for the country, called the Údarás Rialála Cearrbhachais na hÉireann – the Gambling Regulatory Authority. The body would regulate, licence and authorise all gambling in the country.

Another reform included in the bill is the ban on free bets. This formed part of the effort to de-influence children and vulnerable groups from gambling.

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