Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has introduced some new measures through the Assembly. In her opinion, they will help the local authorities make gambling safer in Northern Ireland.
Minister Hargey took part in the Safer Gambling Week, an initiative led by the gambling industry and aimed at raising people’s awareness of gambling, and more specifically, of safer gambling.
Speaking at the official start of the initiative, Ms Hargey has shared that she was bringing a piece of legislation through the Assembly. As she explained, the proposed bill contains a number of provisions that are aimed at providing any future Minister with the legal opportunity to introduce a statutory levy on the gambling sector of Northern Ireland. The proposed piece of legislation is also aimed at creating new offences that would ban young people under the age of 18 from being in areas that feature high-stake gambling machines. Furthermore, the bill seeks to clarify the rules around prize competitions in the country.
As Minister Hargey has noted, gambling addiction has been a serious problem across local communities. That is exactly the reason why she believes that tackling problem gambling-related issues needs to be addressed by a number of agencies. So, she had established a Cross-Departmental Working Group to take care of areas of prevention, education and treatment of problem gambling.
Consultation on Mandatory Code of Practice Launched in Northern Ireland
Apart from introducing some measures aimed at tackling problem gambling through Northern Ireland’s Assembly, this week Minister Hargey is also launching a short consultation with major stakeholders in the gambling industry. The consultation is specifically focused on a Mandatory Code of Practice for the gambling sector of Northern Ireland.
She has revealed that requirements within the aforementioned Code of Practice will include a stricter crackdown on so-called fixed-odds betting terminals, also known as FOBTs. It will also see credit cards banned from being used in gambling transactions. The practice of reverse withdrawals and the location of ATMs in gambling venues are set to be suspended, too. The Mandatory Code of Practice will seek to establish further protection for children and young people in Northern Ireland, including some age verification standards in the country’s gambling sector.
Ms Hargey has revealed that she is willing to make gambling companies comply with the Code as a condition to get an operating licence in the country. She further noted that she will continue to work to drive up standards in the gambling industry and make gambling companies that offer their services in Northern Ireland more responsible when it comes to gambling-related harm.
Northern Ireland’s Gambling Bill on the Way to Getting “Long Overdue” Amendment
The gambling laws of Northern Ireland are one step closer to getting a long-awaited update.
In September, the Getting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill entered the country’s Assembly and passed through the first stage of the process to become a law. If the bill comes into force, it will bring an amendment to the existing betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and will bring the most significant changes to the country’s gambling regulation in more than thirty years.
The UK Gambling Act of 2005 does not apply to Northern Ireland, and the local gambling industry is not regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). At the time when the new bill entered the Assembly, Communities Minister Hargey shared that the reform of the legislation that dates back to 1985 was long overdue.
The proposed legislative changes follow a public consultation, which showed that the public in Northern Ireland were pretty much comfortable with relaxing some of the strict measures controlling the sector, as long as the Government and the gambling industry itself were both engaged in preventing problem gambling.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.