Updating safer gambling practices
Retail and online sportsbooks in Ireland will be implementing a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads during live sports broadcasts. The measure is part of an overall movement to enact higher standards of responsible gambling across the nation. During live sports that air before 9pm, there will no longer be any gambling-related ads from five minutes before the beginning of the event to five minutes after its ending.
Gambling companies will also no longer be able to sponsor television programs. Both greyhound and horse racing are exempt from this ban. The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) has updated its Code of Practice for safer gambling to reflect these changes.
Not all operators on board
Numerous operators have already begun implementing this change, including Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment. All IBA members need to have these changes in place before the end of this year.
IBA members such as Flutter, Entain, BoyleSports, and various independent operators have committed to putting this updated code into place. Major online operators such as Betway and bet365 have also stated that they will adhere to the updated code.
William Hill is not part of the retail-only IBA
One operator that has not yet committed to joining in on the IBA initiative is William Hill. The company is planning to wait until there is concrete legislation in place before it commits to making any changes. This reportedly is because William Hill is not part of the retail-only IBA; William Hill does not currently have any retail sportsbooks in Ireland. If the IBA expands its membership to cover online operators, William Hill reportedly would reconsider its stance. This code is not legally binding.
Moving towards a more responsible gambling environment
A similar type of whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads has been put into place in the UK and Australia in recent years. IBA members have also committed to no longer accepting credit cards as a form of payment.
ensure standards are increased for all”
Talking about the transition towards a safer gambling environment was IBA chairperson Sharon Byrne, who spoke about the importance of the industry continually improving and developing safer gambling standards, and stating that the incoming whistle-to-whistle ban is a “significant step.” She said: “We believe that these measures continue the journey the industry has been on in recent years to ensure standards are increased for all.”
The IBA has also been calling for the establishment of a gambling regulator in Ireland. IBA chair Byrne believes that a lot more can be done to create a safer gambling environment if there is a national regulator in place.
Reforming the gambling laws in Ireland has been an issue that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, but little action. The COVID-19 pandemic and political elections have caused disruption. The Irish Labour Party has called for a blanket ban on gambling ads, as well as no longer allowing gambling companies to sponsor sports teams in the country. The Sinn Féin party wants there to be an independent gambling regulator and has proposed a ban on gambling ads airing through online and broadcast media between 6am and 9pm.