Students to be asked to vote in referendum on TCDSU boycott of gambling ads

A successful referendum would prevent the union from accepting sponsorship from gambling companies

Trinity students are to be asked to vote on whether Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) should take a long-term stance against accepting gambling advertisement as part of its commercial practices.

A motion passed at SU Council this evening mandates that union will host a referendum on making a boycott of gambling advertisements a long-term policy. 

A successful referendum would prevent TCDSU from accepting advertisements or sponsorship money from gambling and betting companies and mandate the union to lobby against targeted gambling advertisements. 

The motion was proposed by current TCDSU Ents Officer Hugh McInerney. Speaking to Trinity News, McInerney said that the motion is not “against gambling itself; what students do with their money is completely their business. This is to ensure we do not support the parasitic gambling advertising business”. 

He went on to emphasise the efficacy of targeted gambling advertisements and in-game mechanisms to maintain loss-making players as customers, saying “gambling companies know exactly who to target and how to do it”.

“In a recent premier league [sic] match from 15 mins before kickoff to the end of the game, gambling was mentioned, shown on screen or advertised over 200 times. Mandating TCDSU not to take their advertising would be a step towards ensuring we do not support an industry whose one goal is to make losing money as attractive as possible.”

STEM Convenor Daniel O’Reilly asked a question at Council on whether TCDSU had ever hosted gambling companies’ advertisements. In response, TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer, Philly Holmes, noted that requests “do actually come across our desk” but had been refused. He added: “I believe we should have a formal stance to oppose that form of advertising.”

Council is taking place this evening over Zoom, and a technical difficulty initially impacted the number of members who voted on the motion.

The vote was ran a second time and passed again, with 86 of 123 members voting in favour.

The position that will be put forward to referendum for students to vote on is: “TCDSU shall not accept advertisements or sponsorship money from any company that promotes betting or gambling.”

“The President, Welfare and Equality Office and Ents Officer shall lobby for the banning of gambling advertising and sponsorship in Ireland, in particular advertising that is targeted specifically at young people.”

Connie Roughan

Connie Roughan is the Unions Correspondent for Trinity News and a Senior Fresh BESS student.