The Irish Government is moving forward with plans to suspend gambling advertising on television channels as part of a major regulatory move that could see the two local dedicated racing channels blocked.
James Browne, the Department of Justice’s Junior Minister, has informed his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil that granting Sky Sports Racing and Racing TV with exemption from the provisions of the Gambling Regulation Bill would not be legally sustainable. As explained by Mr Browne, the move will probably boost the tension among the coalition Members of Parliament (TDs) who have been heavily lobbied by the horse racing sector to grant such a derogation from the total gambling advertising ban on TV broadcasts in the country from 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM.
Currently, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is the one owning a media rights contract with the two aforementioned channels for the period between 2024 and 2028. The governing body of Ireland’s horseracing industry has warned that it would not be viable to air the channels in Ireland on a separate TV stream from the one broadcast in the UK. Moreover, such a move would mean they would be effectively banned from local airwaves.
According to an internal briefing note of the Government, establishing a separate feed would cost Racing TV about €2 million. Officials have explained that developing a separate broadcasting stream for the country that does not involve gambling advertising is a good idea.
Irish Horseracing Industry Trying to Win Exemption for Dedicated Subscription-Based Horse Racing Channels
The governing body of the country’s horseracing sector has been trying to convince Irish politicians to give up the daytime advertising ban in terms of dedicated subscription-based horse racing channels. Recently, HRI representatives had a meeting with Mr Browne and his officials.
In a recent email sent to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, the Junior Minister of the Department of Justice noted that the proposed measure would effectively provide the two horse racing channels with a monopoly on gambling advertising in Ireland. At the time, he pointed out that the rights deal was agreed on a few months after the implementation of the ban was first suggested by the Government.
Mr Browne further shared that the HRI proposal raised a few issues. In the first place, he believed it violated the principle of the gambling advertising ban, as it fully disagrees with the statement of the Government and the Oireachtas Committee on Justice. On the other hand, he noted that an exemption for the horse racing sector would jeopardise competition principles under the existing legislation that covers broadcasting companies and could be considered discriminative against other sports, so it would not be legally sustainable.
According to the Junior Minister, there is no legal obstacle that arises from the gambling legislation that would endanger horse racing broadcasting, as it is currently aired. He also noted that gambling-related harm is extremely dangerous and that the watershed ban on gambling advertising is the most appropriate step at present in order to protect local residents from negative effects associated with extensive access to gambling and a massive number of gambling adverts.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.