Report supports introduction of new regulator and gambling levy in Northern Ireland

The All Party Group began an inquiry in 2022.
The All Party Group began an inquiry in 2022.

The report has made 57 recommendations.

UK.- The Northern Ireland All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling has published a report making 57 recommendations. It calls for gambling to be recognised as a public health issue and that a financial levy should be imposed on gambling operators to fund research, education and prevention.

According to the Belfast News Letter, the report says gambling should be treated similarly to alcohol and tobacco. It also backs up existing proposals for the creation of a new independent gambling regulator.

The All Party Group launched an inquiry into approaches to gambling-related harms in December 2022 and called on various stakeholders to give their opinions with a view to informing future policy. In the period to January 2024, it took oral evidence from 30 people and written evidence from 45 individuals and organisations.

It has 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.

The Stormont APG also 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.

The last legislative updates in Northern Ireland saw the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Bill become law in May 2022 after receiving royal assent, providing the first significant update to Northern Irish gambling legislation since the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985.

The legislation was intended as the first phase in a planned wider overhaul of regulations. It introduced a code of practice and allows betting shops to open on Sundays and on Good Friday. However, it doesn’t regulate online gambling, which is due to be dealt with in a second phase.

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