Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing Seek Exemption from Ireland's Gambling Ad Ban

Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing seek exemption from Ireland's Gambling Regulation Bill, which bans gambling ads between 5:30am and 9pm. The bill would make their businesses unviable in Ireland, relying heavily on betting advertising revenue.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing Seek Exemption from Ireland's Gambling Ad Ban

Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing Seek Exemption from Ireland's Gambling Ad Ban

Racing TV (RTV) and Sky Sports Racing are seeking an exemption from Ireland's impending Gambling Regulation Bill, which would ban gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9pm. The channels argue that this ban would make their businesses unviable in Ireland, as they rely heavily on betting advertising revenue.

Why this matters: The proposed ban on gambling advertising has far-reaching implications for the sports broadcasting industry, potentially setting a precedent for similar restrictions in other countries. If the ban is implemented without exemptions, it could lead to a significant loss of revenue for sports channels and potentially impact the quality of coverage for fans.

The Gambling Regulation Bill has passed through the final stage of the legislative process in Dáil Éireann and is scheduled to go through a similar process in the Seanad before being signed into law by the president. RTV's parent company, Racecourse Media Group (RMG), stated that the bill "would make their coverage of Irish racing 'unviable' due to the proposed ban on gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9pm."

RTV currently has a €47 million per year media rights deal with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and the Association of Irish Racecourses, which covers streaming, betting shop services, and direct-to-home coverage. However, the bill would require RTV to invest in a separate channel for Ireland, which RMG's CEO Martin Stevenson called "prohibitively expensive" for a small, independent broadcaster.

Stevenson also rejected claims that increased contributions from bookmakers could fill the void caused by the advertising ban, stating, "Having bookmakers' contributions on the channel as a replacement for ads is completely against the regulator Ofcom's advertising regulations. We can categorically say that no deals have been reached with bookmaker partners on this." He emphasized, "The drafting of the bill, as it stands, makes it unviable for Racing TV to continue broadcasting in Ireland."

Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive, Suzanne Eade, has expressed concerns that the ban would be disastrous for the sport and that the ruling body cannot allow pictures not to be broadcast in Ireland. Exemptions from advertising restrictions for specialist racing channels operate in other jurisdictions, such as Australia.

As the Gambling Regulation Bill moves closer to becoming law, the future of racing coverage in Ireland remains uncertain. RTV and Sky Sports Racing maintain that without an exemption from the proposed advertising ban, their services would cease to be viable in the country, potentially leaving Irish racing fans without access to live coverage of the sport they love.

Key Takeaways

  • Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing seek exemption from Ireland's Gambling Regulation Bill.
  • Bill bans gambling ads between 5:30am and 9pm, threatening channels' viability in Ireland.
  • RTV's €47m media rights deal with Horse Racing Ireland could be impacted.
  • Exemptions for specialist racing channels exist in other jurisdictions, like Australia.
  • Future of racing coverage in Ireland uncertain without exemption from ad ban.