News & Media

Linking of sports and gambling continues at pace

12 July 2021

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport

Speaking in the Seanad today, Labour sports spokesperson Mark Wall said there is an urgent need to enact Labour’s Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021 which would ban all gambling advertisement in Ireland. Highlighting the many personal stories shared by people impacted by problem gambling in Ireland, Senator Wall said this legislation is informed by medical experts like the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland who are at the coalface of this particular health issue.

Senator Wall said:

“We have a national problem with gambling in this country. In 2019, Ireland had the 7th highest gambling spend in the world - €9.8 billion (€379.51 per head). This spend is encouraged and cultivated by massive advertising campaigns by  gambling companies across all forms of media. Gambling ads are the most commonly shown ads during televised sporting events in Ireland, and the 7th most common form of ad shown in general. These statistics don’t account for the incessant pop up ads on phones, on websites and traditional banner advertisements.

“Since introducing this legislation into the Seanad, I have been inundated with messages and calls from people wanting to share their experience or offer their support for our bill to ban all gambling advertisements. 80% of people who took part in our online consultation noted an increase in gambling ads in recent years, no doubt due to the huge profits these companies are making off the back of problem gamblers. These are real people where the highly addictive behaviour takes over their lives.

“The gambling industry has worked hard to create a strong link in our minds between major sports events and betting - even politics is targeted by these companies. It’s deeply concerning to read that children as young as six years old are asking parents questions about these ads that they are seeing on TV, this early association will only lead to problems in the future. We need to stop linking betting with the enjoyment of sports and entertainment. Gambling destroys people’s lives, families lives and damages communities. Many brave people like Oisín McConville and Cathal McCarron have shared their personal story to highlight the urgent need to ban gambling advertising and rein in the industry once and for all.

“The Government need to wake up to this live issue and stop with tokenistic responses. The level of addiction and affliction in communities up and down this country demands serious action. We had this argument around the tobacco. Time is ticking. We are storing up a serious health problem for this country by not acting now."