Thursday, May 30, 2024

Offaly Euro candidate seeks change in ‘daft’ new gambling law

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OFFALY TD Barry Cowen, who is seeking election to the European Parliament, has claimed that new gambling laws could hit GAA fundraisers and even result in a ban on the Dublin city marathon taking place.

A Fianna Fáil candidate in the Midlands North West European constituency, Deputy Cowen is calling for an amendment to the Gambling Bill to stop GAA lotteries, radio bingo, radio and tv phone in competitions and charity fundraisers being banned.

“While the Bill set out to tackle a particular problem with gambling that we all support, the drafting of the Bill leaves a lot to be desired,” Deputy Cowen said.

“To my eye, it is barring things never intended to be caught up in overreach by the Department of Justice. The Bill, as drafted, will do major damage to the radio sector in Ireland and this needs to be reversed. Radio and local stations are the life-blood of Irish communities and any attack on them is unjustified.

“The ridiculousness of the drafting looks as if it will bar the Dublin City Marathon and other road races. As the marathon offers a prize of more than €3,000, the Bill will classify it as gambling as it will fall under the definition in the Bill of an activity engaged in by a person on the payment of money in the form of an entrance fee and in return for which he or she obtains an opportunity to win a prize of money. This is completely daft, as is the attack on the radio sector, the GAA lottos, other sports and charity lotteries, radio bingo and other things never contemplated by the Oireachtas as gambling.

Deputy Cowen is proposing an amendment that will exempt licensed broadcasters from the requirement to hold a gambling licence to conduct an activity that would constitute a game or lottery where that activity is conducted in connection with their editorial broadcast activities.

“The amendment is necessary because on its current terms the Bill may significantly limit the ability of broadcasters to run listener competitions. It is over-broad drafting like this by zealous officials which seeks to bar all enjoyment by ordinary people and impacts on sports, charities and broadcasters that gives governments a bad name and makes them look institutionalised,” he said.

“If the Bill is supposed to tackle uncontrolled gambling, problem gambling and to protect children, ending radio competitions and GAA lotteries was never what the Oireachtas envisaged. I am supporting broadcasters, the GAA, other sports organisations with lottos and the Irish Federation of Sports and Charities who want the Bill amended.

“An exemption from the operation of the Bill for licensed radio broadcasters, which are already heavily regulated, is appropriate because there is no cogent public policy basis for treating their listener competitions as gambling. Radio should also not have to pay for another regulator and it is questionable why the sector should be subjected to the watershed ban which was an invention for television advertising given its mass reach to children.”

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