Monday, May 20, 2024

Charities to be exempted from planned gambling advert ban

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Charities are set to be exempted from a controversial betting advert ban proposed by the Government’s new gambling legislation.

Politicians are due to debate a Bill on Wednesday that aims to create a new licensing regime and authority to oversee the Republic’s betting industry.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice James Browne proposes to carve some charities out from a blanket ban on broadcast betting advertising between 5:30am and 9:00pm included in the Gambling Regulation Bill.

His amendment will allow advertising for gambling “for a charitable or philanthropic purpose” where the maximum win does not exceed €10,000.

Mr Browne tabled this change following concerns raised by politicians about the ban’s likely impact on charities.

Specialist channels, including the paid-for Racing TV, have warned that the wider ban could threaten day-to-day coverage of Irish horse racing.

Racing figures fear that this will hit the sport and the industry supporting it, which employs an estimated 30,000 people, mainly in rural Ireland.

Horse Racing Ireland, the State agency that administers the sport here, raised the issue with Mr Browne and his officials recently.

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The organisation noted on Tuesday that it had “very positive discussions” with the Minister and civil servants.

The industry is seeking an exemption from the ban for specialist subscription channels, including Racing TV, which broadcasts Irish racing.

Racecourse Media Group, owner of Racing TV, has warned that the proposed law threatens the “economic viability” of its Irish coverage.

The company says the ban would require it to establish a separate channel to screen Irish racing, adding to its costs. Racing TV subscribers must be over 18.

UK gambling laws exempt specialist racing channels from advertising bans.

The Minister is also proposing that betting businesses can only advertise on someone’s social media account where that person has expressly opted to receive those adverts in the first place.

Another amendment that the Minister has put forward will allow bookmakers and other licensed gambling businesses to offer “inducements” to the general public.

However, they cannot offer them to individuals or specific groups and the Minister can impose conditions on inducements in consultation with the industry regulator.

The racing and betting industries say they support the legislation and its aims, but fear that some provisions have “unintended consequences”.

Earlier this week, Boylesports chief executive Vlad Kaltenieks urged politicians to balance protecting the vulnerable with the need to support jobs in Irish racing.

The Bill is due before the Dáil for its fourth stage on Wednesday evening, after which debate on the legislation moves to the Seanad.

Bookmakers, casinos and other betting businesses will require licences, while a new Gambling Regulatory Authority will oversee the multibillion-euro industry, under the Bill’s terms.

The Government appointed Anne Marie Caulfield as chief executive designate of the authority in August 2022.

Her office will be responsible for enforcing a new regime that includes bolstered consumer rights and a requirement for betting businesses to contribute to a fund to aid problem gamblers if politicians pass the Bill.

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