Belfast Telegraph

Ex-GAA star McConville calls gambling ad ban a 'step in right direction'

By Lauren Harte

A television ban on gambling advertising is "a really positive step in the right direction", former Armagh All-Ireland winner Oisin McConville has said.

He spoke out after Britain's biggest gambling companies struck a deal to stop adverts during live sports broadcasts.

Following political pressure over the volume of betting advertising on TV, the Remote Gambling Association, which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, voluntarily agreed to a "whistle-to-whistle" advertising ban.

The deal follows extensive talks between firms to ensure no adverts will be shown for a defined period before and after a game is broadcast.

The ban includes any game that starts prior to the 9pm watershed, but ends after that time. Horse racing will be exempt from the restrictions - given the commercial importance of gambling on its viability - but all other sports will be included.

Ex-GAA star McConville (42) battled gambling demons for 12 years before finally turning the corner and is now a highly respected addiction counsellor.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "All we want is recognition that gambling is a huge problem which has a detrimental effect not just on the addict, but also their families.

"The fact this is now happening is very positive.

"Hopefully now the likes of the Premier League, which has affiliations with bookmakers and gambling sites, will also row in behind this move."

The father of a Co Fermanagh man who lost his son to a gambling addiction also welcomed the ban, but said that the move fell some way short of being really effective.

Lewis Keogh (34) was £50,000 in debt when he took his own life in November 2013.

His parents, Peter and Sadie, from Enniskillen, have since been campaigning to change the laws on gambling.

Peter (70) believes the advertising ban should be extended to also include shirt and league sponsorship and digital advertising around sporting grounds.

He said: "Some of the gambling companies are being really smart here and jumping before they are pushed.

"They are running scared and I believe that the tide is turning very quickly on them.

"A complete ban on all gambling advertising in the next few years is what we aspire to, so hopefully this is a sign of greater things to come."

Belfast Telegraph

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