Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sligo/Leitrim TD fears that Gambling Bill will hinder fundraising efforts of clubs and groups

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The Bill will form the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) to regulate the industry, enhance consumer rights, protect vulnerable people and establishes a fund to combat problem gambling.

The bill also aims to ensure compliance by gambling providers with restrictions imposed on advertising and sponsorship, including a statutory watershed prohibiting gambling advertising between the hours of 5.30am and 9.00pm on television, radio or on-demand audio-visual media.

However, Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny has said that the government’s Gambling Bill must be amended to avoid punishing sport clubs and charitable organisations across Sligo and Leitrim.

His comments were made during a debate with the Taoiseach in the Dáil, where he said that the bill conflates fundraising with gambling.

When raising the issue with the Taoiseach, he mentioned St Mary’s GAA in Carrick who raffled a car last year, and intend to raffle a house this summer with Mohill GAA.

He also mentioned Northwest Hospice who raise vital funds to support their palliative care services through the Northwest Hospice Radio Bingo since 2016.

Deputy Kenny believes failure to address this issue would cost local sporting clubs and community organisations in the northwest thousands of euros in necessary fundraising.

Speaking today, Deputy Kenny said sporting clubs and charities have significant concerns regarding the impact the government’s Gambling Bill will have on fundraising efforts.

“The bill, as it is currently drafted, would place considerable barriers in place for local organisations, drastically restricting their ability to fundraise.

“This bill conflates fundraising lotteries with gambling, despite there being no evidence of gambling harm provided to justify such onerous regulations.

“The government’s sweeping measures, brought forward by Fianna Fáil, would have a far-reaching and negative impact on local sporting clubs, hospices, tidy town groups and many other philanthropic organisations.

“We have so many organisations across the northwest who stand to be directly affected by this legislation.

“These clubs and organisations rely on fundraising to keep the show on the road, especially in the northwest.

“The effect of this bill would be to leave them with one hand tied behind their backs,” said Deputy Kenny.

Deputy Kenny said there is broad agreement that gambling companies require significant regulations and an empowered regulator but he believes this bill completely oversteps that.

“In spite of the concerns raised, the government has ploughed ahead with blunt measures that would leave the local community groups and clubs in Sligo, Leitrim and across the northwest, counting the cost.

“Sinn Féin moved a number of amendments, including one which would exempt charities and sports clubs from the provisions of the Bill, provided that the funds from any activity are for their benefit alone.

“This bill must deliver for ordinary people, voluntary organisations and those in recovery, while preserving jobs and protecting sources of fundraising.

“Its current wording does not do that, and Sinn Féin will have to reflect on our support if the government does not address these concerns,” said Deputy Kenny.

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