Michael Higgins Wants Gambling Ad Ban on Sports Broadcasts
Irish President Michael Higgins said he would like to see a blanket ban on the promotion of online betting sites during sports broadcasts. Higgins’ comments came during an interview on Sunday Sports, a program on RGT Radio 1.
The president of Ireland had been asked about several high-profile cases of Irish athletes who fell into gambling addiction. One example Michael Higgins discussed was the hurling player, Davy Glennon, who stole €70,000 from his former employer, J&C Kenny Wine Distributors, to fund his gambling habits.
Glennon barely escaped a prison sentence for his crimes, eventually received 240 hours of community service for his theft. His 2016 statements about gambling addiction were perhaps a mitigating factor, as his problem gambling was well known by the Irish public.
Irish Gambling Ad Ban
Speaking in general terms, Michael Higgins said gambling should be kept out of sports. The Labour Party leader gave his solution to problem gambling in Ireland, saying, “I just think sport should be protected from it. There is no one being heavy about it. What you can do is through education obviously, through the school systems.”
“But you can’t do everything through education. For too long in Ireland we often ignore problems that are staring us in the face.”
Michael Higgins’ prospective sports betting ad ban seemingly came out of nowhere, though Italy recently banned sports betting ads. Many politicians in Ireland seemed to think Higgins wanted an issue for the upcoming election this fall. Several members of Fianna Fail, the conservative opposition party, gave their support for a ban on sports betting advertisements. That has been Fianna Fail’s longtime stance on the issue.
Irish Gambling Regulations
If President Higgins or his opponents in the next election succeed in passing nationwide gambling regulations, they would be updating laws which have been on the books for decades — sometimes even generations. Irish gambling laws is regulated by the Betting Act 1931, the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and the Finance Act 1992.
At the moment, Ireland does not even have an Irish Gambling Commission. Any such updated law would create an official gambling commission as a national gaming regulator. Most western countries have some many of national gaming regulator of the same sort.
Sharon Byrne on Irish Gambling
Sharon Byrne of the Irish Bookmakers Association thinks Ireland is doing fine without a gambling commission. Replying to the Higgins interview, Sharon Byrne said that industry-led policies work fine for Irish gamblers.
The IBA director said, “I believe that gambling for the vast majority of people is an enjoyable, leisure activity but for a small percentage it can become a problem and as a responsible industry it is up to us to ensure that we have adequate services available and that people are aware of those services if gambling is becoming an issue.”
High-Profile Davy Glennon Case
Davy Glennon stole from J&C Kenny Wine Distributors on several separate occasions from November 1st, 2014 and July 8th, 2015 for amounts of €2,000, €6,050, €5,600, €4,180, €6,581, €8,301, and €7,528. Court records show he stole from the company 16 more times, bringing the total to over €70,000.
Geri Silke, the prosecuting barrister in the case, told the Galway Circuit Criminal Court that a “mystery donor” had repaid the family-run Galway company €65,000 of the debt. Another €5,000 had been paid to the business by others.
Hurling Star Given Community Service
Judge Rory McCabe said that Davy Glennon “had an arrangement between himself and the donor to deal with debt” to those who paid the J&C Kenny Wine Distributors. Thus, Glennon was given community service.
Ms. Silke originally called for a 4-year sentence for Davy Glennon. Later, she noted that the appropriate sentence was 2 years in prison. Judge McCabe noted that Glennon had apologized for his actions, repaid his debts, and was a low risk for re-offending. Presumably, that meant Glennon was low-risk to steal funds — not to continue his problem gambling.
Thus, one of the highest profile problem gambling cases in Irish sports for a while came to an end. The case highlights the dangers of problem gambling, though its connection to sports advertisements is small. Davy Glennon’s addiction was not driven by advertisements in the stadium or on the broadcasts, but by other factors.