Congress to consider banning bookies as sponsors

Colin Regan, GAA Community and Health Manager. Photo: Sportsfile

Kevin Egan

Betting firms will be prohibited from engaging in any form of GAA sponsorship from 2019 onwards if a motion to the 2018 Annual Congress is passed later this month.

The community and health department of the association, supported by the National Health and Wellbeing Committee, has proposed that the sponsorship by a betting company of any GAA competition, team, gear, or facility be forbidden, in a move that is part of a wider package of measures currently under way to tackle problem gambling and issues surrounding the integrity and honesty of Gaelic games.

Currently there are very few high-profile sponsorships that would be affected by such a move, with the deal between Crossmaglen Rangers and Bar One racing perhaps the most notable ongoing arrangement, while Pyramid Bookmakers also sponsor some adult championships in Leitrim.

However, Louth and Derry have had large betting firms as their primary shirt sponsor in the past.

The GAA's community and health manager, former Leitrim footballer Colin Regan, is confident delegates will support the aims of the motion.


"Research shows that athletes are a particularly high-risk group when it comes to problem gambling, while we're also aware that adolescents in Ireland are more likely to engage in gambling than adults, which is another worrying sign as we look forward to protect their future health.

"Most units of the GAA are very socially aware so this won't affect very many clubs and teams, however we feel it would be best practice to simply eliminate any link."

Regan also confirmed that this was one of several measures that were being put in place to try and address the twin threat of problem gambling and match integrity.

At the 2017 Congress, Rule 1.15 was voted in by a landslide majority, which prohibits players, management and officials from betting on games in which they are involved, with sanctions ranging from an eight-week suspension to expulsion from the GAA.

The GAA in 2015, through a submission to the Gambling Control Bill, called on the government to ban betting on all juvenile sporting events.

A large number of the country's bookmakers ceased the practice in the aftermath of the publicity generated by the debate.

"As part of an awareness campaign for 2018, we've created we are creating a range of materials and presentation resources to give clubs the tools to address the topic of harmful gambling in their own setting, while we're also very happy with our ongoing memorandum of understanding with Paddy Power Betfair plc., and we hope to have something similar in place with the Irish Bookmakers Association very soon," added Regan.