Northern Ireland Assembly opens inquiry into how to approach gambling harm

The Northern Ireland inquiry is open until February 3.
The Northern Ireland inquiry is open until February 3.

An all-party group is calling on feedback from health professionals, academics and those with personal experience.

UK.- The Nothern Ireland Assembly’s All Party Group (APG) on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling has launched an inquiry into approaches to gambling-related harms. It’s calling on various stakeholders to give their opinions with a view to informing future policy.

The Stormont APG highlighted research suggesting that the current focus on individuals’ behaviours fails to recognise the wider impact on public health. It said that research from International Gambling Studies suggests that the typical problem gambler can affect around six other people.

It noted that 2.3 per cent of people in Northern Ireland have a gambling problem, according to a Department for Communities survey. That’s four times higher than in Great Britain and three times higher than in the Republic of Ireland.

APG chair Robbie Butler said a public health approach to gambling-related harm would shift the focus from the individual gambler to a broader consideration of the causes.

He said: “This approach has been used for other addictions, including food addiction, smoking and alcoholism. One of the key recommendations to emerge from the APG’s first inquiry on the future regulation of gambling was that gambling should be officially recognised as a public health issue.

“We are recommending that gambling be reflected in regulation that prioritises health, prevention of harm, and treatment. Gambling addiction should be fully integrated into all relevant strategies including mental health and suicide prevention.

“We call on health professionals, advocacy group representatives, academics, departmental officials and those with personal experience, among others, to take part in this inquiry.”

The APG was established in March 2020. The call for written evidence is open until February 3 2023.

James Browne clarifies details of new Irish Gambling Regulation Bill

The minister for law reform James Browne has presented Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill for its second reading in parliament. The bill, approved at its first reading, will create a dedicated gambling regulator for Ireland and introduce the regulation of online gambling.

The industry has largely welcomed the bill, but there has been concern about broad language on the subject of a prohibition of gambling promotions. In a speech to parliament, Browne clarified details on that and other matters.

Describing the bill as a “true milestone”, he said it was “designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland”.

He said that the bill’s main objective was to present the framework for a “robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector in Ireland” through the creation of the Údarás Rialála Cearrbhachais na hÉireann or the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.

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