HomeGambling'Non-stop, incessant' lobbying to water down new gambling laws 

‘Non-stop, incessant’ lobbying to water down new gambling laws 


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Under proposed gambling laws, measures include a ban on advertising during the day, the establishment of a social-impact fund to support problem gambling initiatives, and the creation of the country’s first gambling regulator with sweeping powers in the sector.

Analysis of the lobbying register so far this year shows significant lobbying of politicians in Leinster House around gambling legislation which is still making its way through the Oireachtas.

Professor Colin O’Gara, a consultant psychiatrist and head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital, told the Irish Examiner there has been “non-stop, incessant pressure” from the gambling sector on junior justice minister James Browne to water down the bill.

“The whole idea of this legislation is we get it through in a timely fashion,” he said. “That time has elapsed. It’s been too long.”

As well as bookmakers and horse-racing representatives, much of the lobbying has come from charities worried about how their fundraising activities, such as lotteries and raffles, would be impacted.

In correspondence with TDs and senators, Arthritis Ireland said its national raffle would suffer from the advertising watershed, and a potential loss of €25,000 from its annual income would have a “detrimental impact” on its ability to provide services and supports to people with arthritis.

Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice and Multiple Sclerosis Ireland were among those writing to politicians seeking to have charities exempted from the laws. The Jack and Jill Foundation called for an examination of how the laws would impact fundraising income.

James Browne said the Government would consider amendments to exempt charities from some of the measures in the legislation. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

In the Seanad this month, Mr Browne said the Government would consider amendments to exempt charities from some of the measures in the gambling legislation.

Prof O’Gara said he understood where the minister was coming from but was worried about the proliferation of gambling in Irish life and concerned the bill could be diluted.

Lobbying also came from Horse Racing Ireland, Paddy Power owner Flutter, Boylesports, and the Irish Bookmakers Association. Both Flutter and the bookmakers’ association said they wanted to make politicians aware of the “unintended consequences of the bill”.

Horse Racing Ireland wrote to Tánaiste Micheál Martin to make him aware of “the implications of the proposed bill on the horseracing industry”.

Mr Browne said the Government has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to ensure the horse and greyhound racing sectors are protected, but said gambling was creating a “tsunami of social problems” and causing “extraordinary damage” to society.

Prof O’Gara said the minister has been pushing back against much of the lobbying so far, which is the “right thing to do”.

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