MINISTER James Browne has again dismissed appeals from horseracing broadcasters seeking an exemption to a proposed ban on daytime advertising by gambling companies.

Both Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing say it will not be viable for them to continue to service the Irish market if the Gambling Regulation Bill becomes law in Ireland and betting adverts are banned from early morning to late in the evening.

The Minister has batted away approaches from Horse Racing Ireland and other industry stakeholders, claiming that this legislation is a public health issue and that there is nothing in the Bill to hinder the broadcasting of live racing.

Speaking in the Seanad this week, the Minister said: “We have gone to extraordinary lengths in the legislation to ensure that the horse racing and greyhound racing sector is protected. For example, we could have put blanket bans on sponsorship. We have put provisions into the legislation to ensure that what we call incidental advertising does not impact on the showing of horse racing.

“Therefore, anything that can be seen at a horse race today can still be seen after the legislation passes. A hoarding that might be at the back of a track, naming a race after a gambling company or people from gambling companies appearing to say what the odds are, can all still be shown. There is no impact on the horse racing industry.

“Some in the horse racing sector has asked that racing channels would, in effect, be given a monopoly on showing gambling advertisements in the Republic. At the moment, it is two British TV stations. That exemption would not be for anything related to horse racing but anything to do with gambling. If we were to give two TV stations a monopoly on gambling advertising into the country, it would not survive under competition law. This would give them an extraordinary monopoly providing enormous financial worth to those companies. It is not something that would work in this State. It would not survive under the EU TRIS directive. I do not think the Irish State giving a monopoly on gambling advertising into a European Union state to two third-country TV stations would survive.”

Technical impediment

The Minister went on to reject Racing TV’s statement that, unlike the Sky network, it was not in a position to send an ‘adverts free’ feed to its Irish customers.

“It is completely untrue that there is any kind of technical impediment from them showing different advertisements in two different states,” he said. “It does not stand up to any kind of scrutiny. In fact, TV stations now have the software to show two people in two houses beside each other different ads at the same time. Therefore, there is no technical difficulty there.”

The Irish Field understands that Racing TV plans to respond directly to the Minister on some of these points.


Last week’s edition of The Irish Field reported that Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing had prepared a ‘Plan B’ which would see the channels show an increased number of appearances by betting company representatives if gambling advertisements were banned or greatly restricted.

However, Racing TV issued a statement to say that no deal has been reached on this issue.

“Having bookmakers’ contributions on the channel as a replacement for ads or stings is completely against the regulator OFCOM’s advertising regulations,” the statement said. “We can categorically say that no deals have been reached with bookmaker partners on this.

“As we stressed [last week] our position has not changed. The drafting of the Bill, as it stands, makes it unviable for Racing TV to continue broadcasting in Ireland.”

During this week’s Seanad debate, Senator Garrett Ahearn (Fine Gael, Tipperary) spoke in favour of amending the legislation to allow the racing channels to continue broadcasting in Ireland without hindrance.

He said: “I have no problem with the ban on advertising between 6am and 9pm. The question I have is with regard to having the ban on paid platforms such as Racing TV or Sky Sports, where people must apply for a subscription and they have to be over 18, have a credit card and must give personal information.

“There are examples of other countries that have done this. Australia is a very good example, where laws are in place on time bans for advertising online gambling but paid TV stations are exempt. I suggest that we look at it further and perhaps look at the Australian model where it has been done successfully in recent years.”

The Bill moves to Committee Stage next Tuesday.