Players' association calls for ban on gambling ads in GAA

25 February 2020

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA), the players’ association for Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) games, which include gaelic football and hurling, has called for a ban on gambling advertising in all GAA games.

The players’ association has called for the ban to be written into the laws of each game, which it says would make the GAA the “first sporting organisation in the world to take such a step.”

The proposed ban comes after the publication in December 2019 of a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute into sportspeople in gaelic games. The report said that 80% of senior inter-county GAA players believe their teammates engage in gambling on either a daily or a weekly basis.

“It was clear from the ESRI Report that gambling is an issue that concerns inter-county players," GPA chief executive Paul Flynn said. "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.”

The GPA added that, as well as fostering a culture of gambling in the sports, it believes gambling advertising poses a particular risk to children.

“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,” the association explained. “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.”

Gambling companies are already prohibited from sponsoring GAA teams or competitions, but television advertising during games is still permitted. 

The policy will be discussed by the GAA’s Central Council. Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey will represent the GPA and therefore argue in favour of the policy. If the council approves the change, it may be put to the GAA Congress prior to the 2021 season.

“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,” Flynn said.