Irish horseracing fears impact from proposed gambling ad restrictions


Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill proposes a ban on gambling advertising on TV before 9pm.

Ireland.- Irish horseracing stakeholders are concerned about the potential impact of a proposed ban on television gambling advertising between the hours of 5.30am and 9pm. The measure, contained in the Gambling Regulation Bill, is intended to reduce children’s exposure to gambling advertising.

However, those representing Irish tracks, racehorse owners and trainers fear the ban could harm revenue and horse ownership in an industry that employs 30,000 people and generates €2.46bn a year. Racing TV, which has extended its agreement to screen Irish racing, says that the proposed ban could put the viability of its coverage in doubt.

Any reduction in programming could reduce the revenue that racecourses receive from media rights. IT could also put owners off buying horses. Regina Byrne, manager of the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, told the Irish Times that since many members are not Irish, they rely on TV to see their horses run.

She said: “We’re talking about more than 30,000 jobs here and €240m in training fees annually, and that’s not counting the other quarter of a billion that they are spending on buying the horses in the first place.”

The Oireachtas has yet to grant final approval to the Gambling Regulation Bill, which also establishes the creation of a new Irish gambling regulator. Last month, the Irish parliament’s Select Committee on Justice made several changes in the first stage of the amendments process but retained the proposed advertising restrictions.

Some stakeholders in the horseracing sector are asking parliament to amend the bill in order to exclude specialist channels like Racing TV from the ad ban to avoid unintended consequences. Paul Hensey, chief executive of the Association of Irish Racecourses, has highlighted that the UK and Australia have provisions recognising specialist broadcasters.

He warned that racecourse revenue could suffer otherwise. He said: “A lot of our revenue would come from the exposure of our pictures to different audiences, both close to home and further afield.”

Ryan McElligott, chief executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association, said a complete ban could have “a huge impact on rural economies” where racehorses are bred and sold. He noted that Racing TV subscribers must be over 18.

Meanwhile, the Irish Bookmakers Association has raised concerns the wording of the bill could ban live broadcasts of sports in which gambling ads or logos are visible at venues.

See also: Irish sports minister backs calls for rise in betting levy

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