On Thursday, at the Communities Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA indicated in response to a question from Sinead Ennis MLA there is “no doubt” Northern Ireland’s gambling legislation “needs changed”.
Northern Ireland’s gambling legislation dates back to 1985 before the advent of the Internet. A consultation on the gambling laws here concluded on Friday 21 February and is currently being analysed by the Department.
CARE NI submitted a response to the consultation and the charity have been heavily involved in supporting efforts to change NI’s existing gambling laws.
Available data suggests that Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of ‘problem gamblers’ than any other UK region. The 2016 Northern Ireland Gambling Prevalence Survey identified 2.3% of people as being problem gamblers in the UK; more than four times the figure for England, which stands at 0.5%.
Commenting on the Minister’s comments, CARE NI Public Policy Officer, Mark Baillie, said: “The comments from the Minister are hugely welcome.
“They suggest the issue of gambling related harms is being taken seriously by those in Government.
“Hopefully this will lead the way to a full and proper overhaul of our outdated gambling laws.
“There is a real problem with gambling in many communities across Northern Ireland and we need new laws that protect the vulnerable and hold the betting industry to account.
“Now that the public consultation has closed, people will be looking to the restored Assembly to take the lead and bring legislation forward.”