Irish committee calls for pre-watershed ad ban and website blocking

| By Marese O'Hagan
Ireland's Joint Committee on Justice has published its report on the country's Gambling Regulation Bill, in which it recommends that gambling should not be advertised before 9pm, and that DNS blocking should be used for unlicensed sites.

The report comes in response to the pre-legislative scrutiny on of the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill, and makes a number of recommendations to adjust how gambling is regulated in Ireland.

The Bill aims to establish a gambling regulator in Ireland.

The report also includes information from meetings with stakeholders, which took place on 8 March and 22 March.

One of the most significant recommendations in the report is a complete ban of “all forms of gambling advertising” before 9pm.

This stemmed from members of the Committee highlighting concerns regarding gambling advertising and the effect it has on children and teenagers.

Representatives from the health industry echoed this, stating that advertising and sponsorship have a “disproportionate and detrimental impact on children and those who have suffered from problem gambling.”

The committee said that stakeholders also supported the pre-watershed ban, recommending that the same cultural attitude that led to cigarette ads being banned and alcohol advertising being reduced should be implemented with gambling.

Similarly, the Committee also stated that the relationship between gambling and sports should be “evaluated”, particularly in the case of advertising during sport aimed at young people.

It was also recommended that the introducing domain name system blocking for unlicensed websites should be considered. Under this system, internet service providers could be made to block websites that would not be licensed in Ireland.

The Committee also suggested that the General Scheme should include specific references to a ban on gambling with credit cards, along with a proposed ban on gambling with credit.

“In October 2021, Deputy James Browne, the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, forwarded the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill to this committee in accordance with standing orders for the purpose of pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme,” said Deputy James Lawless, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Justice.

“The Committee agreed to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny and has sought to scrutinise the proposed legislation and provide recommendations on areas where it believes change or amendments are warranted.”

“I hope that this report will help to inform the legislative process and make a valuable contribution to the forthcoming legislation.”

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