In May 2020, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly formed the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling in order to address issues associated with gambling related harm in the region.
Its counterpart within the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, has today (23 June 2020) published the following press release:
Politicians Combine to Tackle Problem Gambling
Politicians at Stormont and Westminster are joining forces to toughen up gambling laws on both sides of the Irish sea.
The recently-formed All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling at Stormont is about to launch an inquiry into how best to reform Northern Ireland’s obsolete gambling legislation.
Meanwhile the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster has just completed its own inquiry into online gambling and is demanding tough new laws, including a total ban on gambling advertising in GB and stake limits for online gambling.
The Stormont APG Chair, Robbie Butler MLA, said:
“From our perspective the timing could not be better. We’ve been in touch to exchange notes and we’ll be asking the Westminster chair Carolyn Harris MP to give evidence to our inquiry when it begins in the autumn.”
The Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm published a hard-hitting report last week after a year-long inquiry. It calls for a complete overhaul of gambling law and its 30 recommendations include:
- Stake limits for online slot content of no higher than £2 given the potential to cause harm
- A ban on all VIP schemes and inducements
- A ban on all gambling advertising
- A complete overhaul of gambling regulation in the UK. It states the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose.
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the GRH APPG, said:
“This multi-million pound industry has destroyed people’s lives. They have shown time and again that they will not effectively self-regulate. The Westminster APPG has set out over 30 recommendations to reform our online gambling industry and these changes cannot come soon enough. We are looking forward to sharing our experience of calling for gambling reform with Stormont colleagues and working together where we can in the coming weeks and months to make gambling safer, fairer and better regulated in both GB and NI.”
Philip McGuigan MLA, Vice Chair of the Stormont APG said:
“I’ve studied the Westminster report carefully and there is much in it that will help our members in our deliberations. Gambling harm is a major issue on this island and in Britain. It is important, therefore, that as we try to address that issue and modernise our legislation here in the North so that it is fit for purpose that we learn and share best practice with others.”
The Stormont inquiry is expected to start taking evidence in September.
Robbie Butler concluded:
“This is not about banning gambling; it is about protecting the vulnerable and making our laws fit for purpose. Our members are from across the political divide and there is a very strong sense of common purpose between us. Working with our peers at Westminster will bring obvious benefits to the inquiry.”