Northern Ireland’s All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling (APG) is preparing a list of recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive on gambling reforms, but legal changes are still likely many years away.
The APG, whose members are lawmakers from various political parties keen to tackle issues associated with gambling harm, held the final session of its inquiry into public health approaches to tackling gambling-related harms on January 22.
The session saw evidence provided by Raymond Caldwell, the director of curriculum and assessment at the Department of Education, who championed the “crucial role” education can play in addressing gambling-related harm, according to an APG press release.
The APG held its first session on February 13, 2023, including speakers from the Institute of Public Health (IPH).
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities (DfC), which is responsible for the development of gambling policy, told Vixio GamblingCompliance it “has no information” on what recommendations the APG “may be considering as a result of its most recent inquiry.”
“The possibility of introducing new legislation on gambling would be a matter for an incoming minister and Executive to consider,” the DfC said in response to a question about whether a lack of a deal to form a new Executive, which has not been done since May 2022, would be a hurdle to introducing new gambling laws.
Separately, the APG published its response to the UK government’s gambling regulation white paper in July 2023.
In the response, the APG explains that it supports the introduction of a statutory levy, wants parity between online and land-based gambling game design restrictions, backing a £2 stake limit, affordability checks for online and land-based players, more protections to prevent young people from seeing gambling ads online and establishing an ombudsman to resolve disputes.
The APG does not expect new gambling legislation to be enacted before 2027, “given the scale and complexity of the task, and the continued absence of an Executive and functioning Assembly here”.
Northern Ireland took its “first steps” to reform its gambling laws in March 2022, updating lottery rules, creating new offences designed to prevent underage use of gaming machines, as well as introducing the ability for the government to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators and issue a code of practice.
Northern Ireland, although part of the UK, is not covered by the Gambling Act and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Gambling Commission.