New Gambling Regulation Bill In Ireland Could Wipe Out €2bn Industry, Say Critics

A new gambling regulation bill in Ireland is being introduced to help save the lives of people affected by gambling addiction. [Image:]

Black market New gambling laws in Ireland could damage Irish horse racing following the introduction of a gambling bill, this according to some in the horse racing industry.

The Gambling Regulation Bill, from Ireland’s Junior Minister James Browne, is intended to save the lives of those affected by problem gambling. However, critics of the bill claim that it will wipe out the €2bn ($2.18bn) industry while gamblers could end up in jail for tweeting.

pushing bettors to the black market

Tomorrow, Browne is expected to explain why his bill will help thousands of people. There are fears, though, that if modifications aren’t made, there will be consequences such as pushing bettors to the black market.

Currently, gambling advertisements are banned between 5:30am and 9pm in Ireland. The only channels that show Irish racing are Racing TV and At the Races. They have indicated they will leave once the bill is enacted.

Horse jockey Ruby Walsh doesn’t disagree with the bill, just how the Irish government is going about it.

“I’m not naive to think Irish racing with disappear overnight but it will begin the slow decline,” Walsh said. “When that starts it’s very hard to turn the wheel.”

Out of sight Walsh believes that while the bill won’t impact people’s lives in urban areas, in rural ones there will be a massive difference.

talented people will move to where the work is

Some of the biggest rural players in horse racing include the Irish counties of Carlow, Limerick, and Tipperary. Because of the potential impact the bill may have, Walsh thinks that talented people will move to where the work is.

Even Walsh, who was the 2000 Grand National winner, thinks he’ll struggle to find something else to do if racing fades away.

“For me, I know you say I should retrain and go back to college but that’s difficult enough in your mid-40s when you have to earn to support a wife and kids,” he said.

He also thinks that horse racing will quickly become unsustainable with ad restrictions, adding that horse racing doesn’t have the same appeal to advertisers as soccer or golf. “It’s a niche market. Horse racing has always been intrinsically linked to gambling,” Walsh said.

Affordability checks The news of Ireland’s new gambling bill comes as the UK government is introducing affordability checks on bettors.

won’t cause any financial harm to the horseracing betting industry

Sports minister Stuart Andrew has told a select committee that affordability checks wouldn’t cause any financial harm to the horseracing betting industry.

Yet, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) believes this won’t be the case because of the “unique relationship between British racing and betting,” adding that if affordability checks are conducted on players, the process should be as “frictionless as possible.”

In January, the UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) stated that the potential for stricter affordability checks could lead to more people turning to black market platforms. It was reported that 250,000 people accessed unlicensed gambling sites in December 2020.