Sunday 26 March 2017

Overseas FAI fans must gamble to watch games live

John Delaney
John Delaney
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Requirements for overseas soccer fans to set up online betting accounts, which must be active in order to access League of Ireland games online, is a "dangerous and risky move", says one GAA star.

Niall McNamee, Offaly footballer and recovering gambling addict, told the Sunday Independent that he is "disappointed" and "deeply concerned" by this element of the FAI's new deal, whereby every 2016 SSE Airtricity League game will be available for streaming outside Ireland from the start of the next season.

"This type of outrageous move just normalises and promotes gambling and I think there is a risk here - especially for young and vulnerable minds," he said.

"It implies that there is no danger associated with gambling and people are forgetting about the wellbeing of the people in this country and the wellbeing of people in any other country where the games will be viewed," he said.

Last Thursday, the FAI announced the plans to stream over 250 games after the organisation agreed a partnership with specialists in live streaming, data collection, betting and video analysis, Trackchamp.

John Delaney, FAI chief executive, said the introduction of the new technologies would "increase global reach". However, the next day, Martin Füreder of TrackChamp explained how the system works.

"The first distribution will be through betting operators, but we are also aiming at, and have already discussed with the league, additional platforms where people can access the streams," he said.

"What is industry standard is that you need to have an account registered and have some activity on the account. This maybe differs from website to website, but to our knowledge, our betting operators use it," he told RTE 2fm radio show Game On.

Mr McNamee, who placed his first bet at the age of 16, says public concerns are being "pushed aside".

"We heard great news a few days ago about this big deal, but here we go - now we're getting the real facts and it's not as rosy a deal as it seemed at the start," he said, adding that one-in-eight people who place a bet can potentially develop an addiction problem.

A spokesperson for the FAI said the organisation is "fully aware" of all aspects of the deal.

Many football leagues and sports have done similar data and betting deals.

These include: Northern Ireland Football League (also TrackChamp), English Premier League, Scottish Professional Football League, English Football Conference, Spain's La Liga, German Bundesliga, Russian Premier League and many more.

Organisations outside football include: ATP Tour (men's tennis), WTA Tour (women's tennis) and World Snooker.

Sunday Independent

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