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The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected the bipartisan plea to review gambling laws, opting not to consider any changes to the existing legislation.

Despite the 1985 order on betting, gaming, lotteries, and amusements in Northern Ireland being under review since 2019, there has been a noticeable lack of progress in modernising the gambling laws. The current regulations, particularly in the context of online gambling, are inadequate. It is interesting to note that there has been no tangible movement towards implementing new regulations or amending current laws to enhance consumer protection.

The All-Party Group (APG) inquiry recommends measures to reduce gambling-related harms and has also urged for a revamp of the laws in Northern Ireland. After conducting a consistent two-year inquiry, they have put forward 57 recommendations to identify problem gambling as a public health concern and establish an independent regulator for gambling activities. Furthermore, they have suggested implementing restrictions on gambling advertisements, which includes proposing a ban on TV gambling ads between 5:30 am and 9:00 pm.

Advocates’ concern

Concerns have been raised by advocates regarding the insufficient measures for evaluating the impact of problem gambling in Northern Ireland. They have emphasised that the level of accountability in this regard is not meeting the standards set by the UK and other European nations. This decision is likely to fuel further debate as stakeholders continue to push for a comprehensive review of the gambling laws to address the pressing concerns related to gambling-related harms in Northern Ireland.

Following the recent General Election, a new Assembly composition has been established, with Sinn Féin leading as the largest party in Westminster. This assembly comprises six parties and one independent member representing the 18 constituencies of the devolved nation.

The Department for Communities (DfC) also announced that the proposal for a new Gambling Bill may not be included in the Assembly’s agendas. Minister Gordon Lyons said, “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.”

Stay in the loop with the latest updates and news for the upcoming SiGMA East Europe Summit powered by Soft2Bet. The summit will take place in Budapest from 2-4 September. 

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