Labour introduce bill to ban gambling ads

Senator Mark Wall
19 April 2021
  • Bill would ban all advertising of gambling in Ireland
  • 75% of people know a problem gambler
  • Experts report increase in gambling disorder referrals since Covid lockdown

As experts continue to report rises in problem gambling and gambling addiction, the Labour Party has introduced the first Bill in the country to ban gambling ads. To stop the gambling industry prying on those at risk of addiction, the Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021 would ban all gambling ads across digital, print and broadcast media.

The strategy by the industry to target the enjoyment of sports, politics and entertainment has worked as in 2019, Ireland had the 7th highest gambling spend in the world at €9.8 billion, the equivalent of €379.51 per person per year. Introducing the Bill into the Seanad, Labour sports spokesperson Senator Mark Wall said this legislation is particularly timely as experts report more and more young people seeking help for gambling addiction.

Senator Wall said:

“The time to rein in the gambling industry is now and I am proud that the Labour party is tackling this issue. We know that gambling addiction is something that affects a huge amount of people throughout the country. Our research shows that three in every four of us know at least one person with a gambling addiction. To protect these people and to end the cycle of the industry recruiting potential addicts, we need to break ties once and for all with the manipulation of gambling through advertising.

“As the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland indicates there is a concerning rise in gambling disorders referrals since Covid the ‘lockdowns’, there can be no delay in enacting legislation to protect those vulnerable to developing an addiction. 80% of people we surveyed noted an increase in these ads in the past year. It’s clear that while everyone stayed at home to protect themselves from the virus, the industry has used this as an opportunity to sow the seeds of another illness – gambling addiction.

“As I introduce this legislation into the House today, I would urge all parties to come together and work with me to progress this legislation as swiftly as possible. We have a real opportunity to be global leaders in this space if we just have the ambition to do so. When a ban on smoking indoors was first smoking people never thought it would happen, but now we can go to pubs, restaurants and businesses without risking our lung health. All it took was political will.

“Gambling is an addiction and it needs to be treated like smoking, alcohol and other behavioural addictions. The stresses of COVID-19 have challenged the resilience and coping strategies of us all, but particularly individuals with addictions who are finding it even harder to continue in their recovery and avoid relapse. With people staying at home, cutting social contacts and having more time on their hands, it is almost inevitable that problem gambling will continue to rise, especially given current online gambling availability.

“There’s nothing wrong with putting a few bob on a match or a horse, that’s not what this Bill is about. Our research shows 63% of people reported that seeing an ad makes them more likely to place a bet. We just need to break this cycle and leave those who wouldn’t otherwise gamble alone while protecting vulnerable people in recovery from addiction. Let’s end this silent scourge and take back control from the industry. We can #BeatTheAds if parties come together and work with Labour to do so.”

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