Some charity draws not exempt from TV gambling ad rules after amendment is defeated

Minister of State James Browne says most of Bill received strong cross-party support despite a tsunami of lobbying from gambling and horse industries.

An attempt by the Opposition to amend the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 to exempt charity draws from a “watershed” TV advertising ban has been defeated in the Dáil after a protracted and heated debate.

The Bill is the first comprehensive effort to regulate gambling in the history of the State and reached Report and Final Stage in the Dáil last night. Two amendments to exempt charities from strict advertising rules were defeated by 69 votes to 55 and by 68 votes to 66.

While there has been strong cross-party support for the Bill, there have been some sections which have been strongly contested by Sinn Féin and some Independent TDs, not least what it has described as the “unintended consequences” of the Bill on the charity, sports and community sector.

Minister of State for Justice, James Browne and the Sinn Féin spokesman on finance Pearse Doherty traded insults over these provisions in the Bill that restrict advertising for draws and lotteries run by charities and clubs.


The legislation will allow draws by charitable and philanthropic organisations with prize money of €10,000 or less to be exempt from a ban on advertising from 5.30am until a watershed at 9pm. This provision was designed to prevent gambling companies from advertising at times when children were watching TV.

Mr Doherty described the section, as it applied to charity and sports clubs, as “bonkers” and as a “problematic piece of legislation.” In turn, Mr Browne portrayed Sinn Féin’s amendment as a “wild west scenario”, exempting that sector from every single safeguard, including money laundering and child protection.

Mr Doherty raised scenarios where GAA clubs and charities would be adversely affected when they offered prizes greater than €10,000. They would no longer be allowed advertise those draws until after the watershed of 9pm.

Mr Doherty said that the Donegal Hospice had a draw advertised on Ocean FM that offered a prize of €20,000. He said that many GAA clubs offered cars and houses as prizes to raise funds for a good cause. He said they would no longer be able to do that.

Mr Browne stood over his decision to impose a threshold of €10,000 saying that it applied only to advertising, not to the draws which could continue to offer prizes of greater value.

He said what Sinn Féin was looking for was a complete exemption for this sector.

“The effect of the amendments will be to remove all regulation insofar as it relates to to gambling from the sector. It would effectively result in a type of Wild West scenario where anyone could act as a charity without regulation, without limitation, or accountability.

“As legislators we are obliged to ensure that proper controls are in place to protect the wonderful work carried out by the charities in this country. And to prevent those that would masquerade as genuine charities from damaging the entire sector. This is a hugely important factor and we would be remiss in our obligations if we did not do so,” he said.

He said the watershed was recommended to protect children from the widespread proliferation of gambling advertising.

Speaking earlier in the day, Mr Browne told The Irish Times that relatively few amendments have been made to the Bill despite a “tsunami” of lobbying from the gambling and horse racing industries.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times