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Our gambling laws need radical reform



Our gambling laws need radical reform

They also talk about the insufficient support available when they need it most and the lack of preventative measures in legislation that could have stopped it all.

For some families, there are only the bad memories of the damage it has done as they live with the consequences after loved ones have taken their lives as a result of the despair gambling caused.

Stormont’s all-party group on reducing harm related to gambling has been taking the issue and its consequences seriously.

A recent report, which said a “complete overhaul” of legislation was needed, recommended a series of measures to reduce the damage.

Among them was a call for a gambling regulator.

However, at the moment, Northern Ireland is getting nothing, at least under the current shortened mandate of the Assembly.

Campaigners have been told it “would be impossible for a Bill of the magnitude and complexity required to be drafted and to have made its way through all Assembly scrutiny and legislative processes within the current mandate”.

The current laws contained in the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 pre-date the rise of online gambling and, consequently, contain no provisions relating to online sites and the ease with which they can be accessed.

In the Republic two years ago, the Gambling Regulation Bill was proposed by the Irish Government.

The planned laws aim to create a “modern, robust regulatory and licensing regime” for the gambling sector and will pave the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator who will have the powers to regulate advertising, betting websites and apps.

However, those in Northern Ireland seeking greater safeguards enshrined in legislation which the gambling industry must abide by are being left on the sidelines.

A consistent dragging of heels over matters which have the ability to save lives and families continues to dog the local political arena.

With the Department for Communities saying the matter is complex and will require a considerable amount of time to get right, will some mechanism be put in place to at least start the process and prevent further heartache in the future? Don’t bet on it.

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