Ireland’s GAA and GPA call for ban on betting ads during live games

Two of Ireland’s leading sports organisations, the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) and Gaelic Players Association (GPA), have argued for new regulations targeting gambling advertisements.

This is not the first time that the GPA has expressed its opinions on gambling’s presence within sports across the country. 

Last year, the GPA showed its support for a gambling overhaul, having been in discussions with broadcasters to limit the prevalence of betting advertisements during live coverage of Gaelic football and hurling.

Since then, both sporting bodies have implemented independent bans on gambling sponsorship, and are now arguing for the introduction of legislation at a national level.

“That’s something we still will be advocating strongly, in terms of banning advertising during the broadcast of live games,” remarked Jennifer Rogers, the GPA’s Player Welfare Manager, speaking to the Irish News.

“It will be prioritised as soon as COVID-19 settles down again. We’re using every opportunity we can to impact change, but our predominant concern is looking after players and making sure the supports are there for them when they need them.”

Prior to the recent announcement, the GPA had reached out to the GAA to encourage the latter to join them in calling for a ban on betting advertising during Gaelic games fixtures.

The organisation referenced a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute in which 80% of respondents believed that their teammates participated in gambling on a weekly or even daily basis.

Also speaking to the Irish News, Colin Regan, the GAA’s Community and Health Manager, argued that further government action was needed, and called for an alliance between Ireland’s various sporting bodies, not just the Gaelic games associations.

“It’s time for the government to properly tax the enormous amounts of money that the gambling industry is making off the back of Gaelic Games and direct it back into addiction services,” the former Leitrim GAA player remarked.

“In the space of gambling, services are basically null and void on this island bar private. Funding should be ring-fenced for health-enhancing programmes and initiatives directed through the sporting network.

“That’s not the GAA benefitting singularly, I think there’s an opportunity for pan-sporting initiatives to tackles issues associated, perhaps particularly focusing on men’s health issues around suicide rates.

“A united voice from GAA, rugby, soccer, athletics, hockey can reach an audience that public health messaging just can’t.”

Gambling advertisements are expected to be placed under the spotlight in 2021 after the Dáil introduced new legislation which laid the foundations for a planned sweeping reform and much needed modernisation of the nation’s gambling laws.  

These measures were followed by a declaration by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland which called for an ‘urgent ban’ on gambling advertising during sporting fixtures.

Professor Colin O’Gara, a Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist, stated: “We cannot continue to ignore the links between problem gambling and the current high volume of betting ads – be that in traditional TV ads or on team jerseys and side-line banners.”

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