The Gaelic Players Association has made formal contact with the Gaelic Athletic Association in a bid to see the banning of advertising by betting companies during the broadcast of live GAA games be written into GAA rule.
In doing so the GAA would become the first sporting organisation in the world to take such a step.
A proposal for this to go before this weekend’s GAA Congress in Croke Park was withdrawn but the matter will now be raised at Central Council.
Concerns over the impact of gambling on those whose lives it effects, as well as on the integrity of sport have been taking a higher profile in recent months with the FA ending a partnership with Ladbrokes in England and discussions taking place around self-regulation of TV advertising or a potential ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on TV advertising.
The GAA acted last year when formally banning and sponsorship at inter-county or club level from companies involved in gambling.
In August 2018 the Association rolled out a Gambling Awareness programme called ‘Reduce the Odds’ across its multiple units.
This proposed idea to impose a restriction as part of any future broadcast agreements would go one step further.
An ESRI report from December 2019 highlighted that gambling was a risk behaviour for inter-county players with 80 per cent of respondents believing teammates engage in gambling on either a daily or a weekly basis.
The matter is to be discussed as a policy change, by the GAA’s Central Council where the GPA’s representative, Seamus Hickey, will be pushing for support of developing a formal policy to prohibit gambling advertising during games.
“Gambling promotion during GAA games presents a heightened risk to the welfare of all members of the GAA but particularly children and those most vulnerable to the perils of this destructive addiction,” said GPA CEO Paul Flynn.
“The proliferation of online betting and the availability of betting advertising around Gaelic Games has helped develop a worrying cultural issue with gambling in the GAA.”
“We believe that the GAA, through its relationships with its broadcast partners, has the ability to prevent the broadcast of gambling ads during matches. Removing this intrinsic link between inter-county games and betting advertising reduces the risk of vulnerable members of the association developing issues with problem gambling.”
The GAA would have the right to impose restrictions as part of future broadcast rights agreements and would learn quickly whether such a stance was likely to impact on the value of those rights. It is unlikely to be the case.
It would not be possible though to extend to other media coverage which is undertaken without the purchase of rights, such as podcast, print and radio or online material.
Paddy Power is a sponsor of the SportsJoe GAA Hour Podcast with Colm Parkinson which is one of the most popular podcasts in the sport.
“It was clear from the ESRI Report that gambling is an issue that concerns inter-county players, added Flynn.
“The ESRI Reports, the GPA Student Report and other membership surveys allow us to listen to the voice of players and act accordingly.”
“This information informs us of their views on issues of great importance to them and their playing experiences. This guides our policy developments and strategy initiatives.”
“Both the GAA and the GPA have long been leaders in this area and we’ll now work with Central Council to take another big step towards removing the link between gambling and our games.”
Read More: GAA Rolls Out Gambling Awareness Programme