Irish Football Association to host fair debate on ties with gambling sponsorsBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsAugust 23, 2018 at 8:02 amAlthough John Delaney, the Chief Executive Officer of Ireland’s Football Association, remains tight-lipped on any firm plans to cut ties with gambling sponsors, the FA has just announced an open conversation to be held on the matter which will begin internally. Some outlets have reported that stronger plans are in the works, but they remain unconfirmed by the CEO at this time.No specific timeline has been given for this debate, other than that it will take place this year, and that more details will be forthcoming after the initial internal phase.The Gaelic Athletic Association already voted earlier this year to ban all gambling sponsorship, and speculation has abounded since then as to whether the FA would follow suit. However, Delaney also indicated that funds directed towards good causes were one result of such sponsorship, and that these positive aspects should be weighed in any consideration of the topic.Still, there is something of a tide of public opinion on this matter putting pressure on the FA to lean towards establishing some degree of restriction. A huge wave in online betting options over recent years, a low tax burden on operators, and an abundance of gambling advertising in sports and live broadcasts has meant that the public in Ireland, as in the UK, have gotten somewhat sick of the stuff. There is an expectation that the result of such a debate may head toward either a ban or other forms of restriction.Ireland faces an eventual and much-needed reform of its gambling laws, a possible tax hike from the enviably low 1% tax burden on operators, and mounting concerns about its gambling addiction rates, the weight of which are still not fully known. It seems that this is a natural time for a review like the FA’s. Still, it remains unclear how the sport would be affected by removing all gambling sponsorship – for starters, would sponsors in another field be in position to offer the same levels of financial commitment?In the end, some partial restrictions, rather than a total ban, seem to be the most coherent and reasonable option. This stands in contrast to Italy, where all gambling ads will be banned at the turn of the year other than those for the National Lottery. A total ban seems unnecessary in terms of protecting the public; similar protection could likely be achieved by limiting advertising methods, times and frequencies, and by supporting those at risk of problem gambling in a more comprehensive manner.The problem with all of these responses is that the gambling industry as a whole, echoing the tactics of many other industries in recent years, has worked towards a bottom line of maximum returns in the short term, regardless of long-term impact or prospect. The UK gaming industry has effectively been running wild for years, and any industry which harms its customers too much will suffer its own losses in the longer term, not to mention leaving it vulnerable to facing much stronger regulation and restriction than it might have had it taken a more conscious and responsible approach.