The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) and the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), two of Ireland’s leading sports organisations, have argued for new laws targeting gambling advertising.
This is not the first time the GPA has shared its views on the existence of gambling in sports nationwide.
The GPA displayed its support for a gambling reform last year, having been in talks with broadcasters to curb the occurrence of betting advertising during live Gaelic football and hurling coverage.
Since then, all sports organisations have adopted separate gambling sponsorship bans and are now calling for legislation at national level to be introduced.
Jennifer Rogers, the GPA’s Player Welfare Manager, speaking to the Irish News said: “That’s something we still will be advocating strongly, in terms of banning advertising during the broadcast of live games.
“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.”
The GPA had reached out to the GAA prior to the recent announcement to persuade the latter to join them in calling for a ban on betting ads during Gaelic gaming fixtures.
The organisation cited a survey by the Institute of Economic and Social Science in which 80 percent of respondents felt their teammates were engaged in gambling on a weekly or even regular basis.
Colin Regan, Community and Health Manager of the GAA, also spoke to the Irish News, argued that more government intervention was required, and called for an alliance between the various sporting bodies of Ireland, not just the Gaelic games associations.
Tax for addiction services
The former Leitrim GAA player remarked: “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.
“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.”
After the Dáil adopted new legislation which formed the basis for a planned sweeping reform and much necessary modernisation of the nation’s gambling laws, gambling advertisements are expected to be put under the spotlight in 2021.
‘Urgent ban’ on gambling ads during sports fixtures
A declaration by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland that called for a ‘urgent ban’ on gambling ads during sports fixtures followed these steps.
Professor Colin O’Gara, 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.”