Gambling Ban Passed at GAA Congress

The first motion to be passed at this weekend’s GAA congress was a ban on all forms of sponsorship by betting companies.

It was passionately advocated for by a succession of speakers who expressed their concerns over the impact of gambling on members of the GAA at all levels and within broader society.

The motion was passed by a 93 percent majority and comes into effect straight away though teams who have existing arrangements with betting sponsors will have time to transition out.

There are currently no inter-county teams sponsored by such organisations and the most prominent betting company with an existing sponsorship deal is Bar One Racing who are long-term supporters of Crossmaglen GAA Club in Armagh.

Central Council will likely need to define in clear terms the organisations that are now restricted so as to avoid potential challenges to National Lottery funding and the running of club lotteries.

It was also highlighted that potential changes to legislation in the promotion of betting would need to be monitored but this was a case where change was seen as clearly needed for the good of the broad membership of the GAA and has been acted upon with a very clear mandate.

Commercial partnerships with betting companies are a substantial driver of sponsorship income in the two main betting sports of horse racing and football.

In the English Premier League, nine of the 20 clubs have a shirt front sponsor that is involved primarily in betting. All clubs have at least one and often multiple sponsorship agreements with the sector as well and the English Football League, covering the second third and fourth tiers of the game is backed by Sky Bet.

All this happens despite a blanket ban introduced by the FA in 2016 prohibiting any betting activity by any player, coach or official working within the sport.

Betting sponsorship is also deeply embedded within horse racing, a more traditional fit with Boylesports, Paddy Power, Unibet and others having their names attached to the biggest races of the year.

In broad marketing terms, the big companies will continue to advertise and promote heavily in and around the sporting world. They will not now do so though on the shirts, stands or tournaments of the GAA.

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