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Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland launches consultation into gambling

By - 13 January 2020

The Department for Communities (DfC) in Northern Ireland has launched a public consultation on the new gambling laws to find out ‘whether changes are now necessary to ensure Northern Ireland has a more flexible and modern licensing framework capable of responding to the many societal and technical changes which have occurred in the industry.’

A consultation paper has been drafted to seek public opinion on the current gambling law in Northern Ireland, and to seek views on whether changes are now necessary to ensure Northern Ireland has a more flexible and modern licensing framework capable of responding to the many societal and technical changes which have occurred in the industry. We are keen to hear the views of all parties with an interest in gambling in Northern Ireland, so that relevant views and evidence can be taken into account in any future policy decisions. The consultation period will last until February 21, 2020, and covers a range of issues, from the categorisation of gaming machines, the regulation of remote gambling, rules on gambling advertising and the law on promotional prize competitions and draws.

Gambling legislation expert James Griffiths said: “With the existing legislation dating back to 1985, it really fails to address the social and technological realities of gambling in 2020. Reform is long overdue, and this renewed consultation exercise is an important first step in reframing Northern Ireland’s laws covering a diverse range of areas such as gambling, gaming, lotteries, prize competitions and advertising.”

“I know that the gambling industry is an important employer in Northern Ireland and that gambling is an activity which is enjoyed responsibly by a large number of people. However, it is very important to recognise that for some people, gambling has the potential to cause considerable harm. Any future changes to the law must balance the interests of the gambling industry with the need for regulation to protect vulnerable people,” Tracy Meharg, permanent secretary of DfC, said.

“There is no doubt that the current legislation is outdated and has not kept pace with industry and technological changes. This consultation will allow everyone with an interest in gambling to share their views on the current legislation and will put the department in a position to offer the best advice to an incoming minister on the future regulatory framework,” Meharg said.

Caption: James Griffiths

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