Saturday 21 April 2018

Betting companies booted out of sponsorship in the GAA

Oisin McConville, who has had gambling problems himself in the past, wearing a Crossmaglen jersey sponsored by a betting company
Oisin McConville, who has had gambling problems himself in the past, wearing a Crossmaglen jersey sponsored by a betting company
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Sponsorship of GAA activity by bookmakers has been outlawed with immediate effect except where agreements are already in place.

GAA Congress voted by a 93-7 per cent majority to ban "sponsorship by a betting company of any competition, team, playing gear or facility".

The only surprise was that seven per cent of delegates (20 approx) voted against the proposal, which was sponsored by Central Council.

Michael Rock, Connacht Council chairman, said that after introducing a rule last which precludes players and officials from betting on games in which they were involved, this was the logical next step.

He was supported by former Galway hurler, Alan Kerins, who spoke on behalf of the Gaelic Players' Association.

He said that it was step in the right direction at a time when gambling problems were on the increase across all strands of Irish society.

He revealed that of 77 players who presented to the GPA for counselling last year, over 50 per cent related to gambling.

Galway's Noel Treacy said that gambling destroys careers and lives so it was entirely appropriate for the GAA to distance itself from betting companies.

No county team is currently sponsored by bookmakers but some clubs and county boards have local arrangements with betting companies. Crossmaglen Rangers, who are sponsored by Bar One Racing, is the highest-profile example.

They - and others in a similar situation - will be given time to wind down the deals. It's understood they will be allowed to continue until existing contracts run out.

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