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GAA pressures Government on gambling law

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Government faces pressure from the GAA to change part of its proposed gambling law that Tom Ryan, the organisation’s director general, warns will hit clubs’ fundraising efforts.

The Dáil is due to debate the Government’s proposed Gambling Regulation Bill, which includes a proposed ban on broadcast betting advertising between 5:30am and 9pm, on Thursday.

According to a letter from Mr Ryan to county organisations the GAA views the only proposed change to the ad ban as “insufficient and unworkable” for the association’s clubs’ efforts to raise money.

He asks executives from the Republic’s 26 counties to ensure TDs know of the Bill’s “serious consequences” for long-established and essential GAA fundraising.

Mr Ryan wants county executives to ask TDs to exert any influence they can on Thursday to help achieve the GAA’s aims and to support Deputy Catherine Murphy’s amendment to exempt not-for-profits and charities from the advertising ban.

She tabled her amendment as last week’s session headed to adjournment, so will have the floor when the debate resumes.

The GAA, the Federation of Irish Sport and Charities Institute of Ireland highlighted fears about the ban to James Browne, the Minister of State promoting the Bill, and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice.

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They believe it will hit their ability to raise cash from club lotteries and online raffles offering houses, cars and other gifts as prizes.

The groups asked Mr Browne and the committee to reconsider including sports and charity fundraising in the legislation. At a minimum they asked that the law exclude organisations recognised and funded by Sport Ireland and registered charities from the 5:30am to 9pm ban.

“Despite reassurances that our concerns had been heard the only relevant amendment (of 60 brought forward) proposed exempting draws or lotteries with a total prize value of not more than €10,000 from the advertising restriction,” says Mr Ryan.

He warns that the organisation does not believe Mr Browne will table further changes or return the Bill to committee stage as the Opposition requested, a move sources say could delay its passing by months.

If the Dáil concludes its debate on Thursday the Bill will go the Seanad, where Mr Ryan tells county organisations the GAA will still have the chance to highlight its concerns.

The Bill aims to create a new regulator, reform licensing, boost consumer rights and require the betting industry to contribute to a fund to aid problem gamblers.

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