Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 ( “Specification”), which will be issued on 2nd December 2022 and will introduce extensive regulation of gambling activities in Ireland. One of the key reforms under the bill is the proposal for stricter regulations on the advertising of gambling activities such as bets, games and lotteries.
In this three-part series, we’ll look at some of the provisions set out in Part 6 of the bill. This clause imposes a number of obligations on the person who has a license for gambling activities and others such as his platform or broadcaster online.
For more information on the general provisions of the bill and the proposed licensing regime under the bill, see this briefing.
What does the bill currently propose?
Under section 141 of the bill, television, radio or on-demand audiovisual media services ( “On Demand Service”) from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. This effectively creates a watershed time between 9pm and 5:30am where related gambling activities are advertised ( “Basin”). Section 141 also provides that the newly established Irish Gambling Regulator will regulate further aspects of such advertising in Watershed, such as time, place, event, amount, frequency and duration. .
The definition of “advertisement” under the bill is broad and “any form of communication, public or otherwise, intended to promote or sell gambling activities.” Examples of what constitutes communication are given and include communication by telephone, the Internet, newspapers, television, radio, or display of notices.
If the bill were enacted in its current form, it would mean that the gambling activity involved may not be advertised at all during the day on television, radio and on-demand services until the Watershed begins. This appears to include gambling advertising even if the individual has subscribed to the OnDemand Service pursuant to section 138 of the bill and has expressly consented to receive gambling advertising.
Who does this apply to?
The application of this provision can be very broad. Those immediately affected are licensees who wish to engage in related gambling activities and promote their products and services.
However, Section 141 also has important implications for broadcasters that broadcast or broadcast sporting events (both live events and replays) during the daytime (usually the hours during which the majority of sporting events take place). . Not only should broadcasters limit the gambling ads aired on their channels during these events, Section 141 could also affect how certain events are covered.
- Hoarding – If advertising hoarding at an event is used to advertise related gambling activities, can this be restricted under Article 141? While one might argue that the inclusion of the hoardings was not intended to promote gambling activity, the entity responsible for placing the hoardings knew that they would be included in the out-of-water broadcasts. It’s not clear if that could violate Section 141.
- Sponsorships – Further complications arise in relation to event and contest sponsorships by companies engaged in gambling activities. Sponsorship of events by companies engaged in gambling activities is not restricted under the bill, except for sponsorship of events or establishments with certain relationships with children, which is prohibited under Section 150. However, it is not clear how Watershed’s restrictions are intended to affect broadcasters’ references to such sponsorships (e.g., if a broadcaster were to include the bookmaker’s name in the title of a particular horse race). is it permissible to mention
- Odds – For certain events (such as horse racing or greyhound racing) it is common to refer to the odds available to broadcasters to bet on the outcome of the event. If these odds are associated with a particular bookmaker, it is clear that this is not allowed during watershed. It is less clear if simply referring to more commonly available odds would be restricted, but it would be nice if this was made clear in the bill.
One of the major remaining issues is the indirect but very significant impact that this provision (in addition to the other advertising restrictions proposed in Part 6 of the Bill) will have on the Irish horse racing industry. It is possible. The introduction of Watershed will limit the advertising of related gambling activities on live horse races, regardless of the time of day. At first glance, therefore, Section 141 would appear to have a significant impact on the value of the Irish racing industry’s products to broadcasters as well.
Read the rest of our series on the 2022 Gambling Regulation Bill here.