Stormont and Westminster align to tackle problem gambling

Politicians from Stormont and Westminster are to join forces to tackle problem gambling and toughen up gambling laws across both jurisdictions.

The collaboration will see the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling at Stormont launch its inquiry into reforming ‘Northern Ireland’s obsolete gambling legislation’ which will hear evidence from Carolyn Harris MP, chair of Westminster’s GRH APPG.

Harris explained: “This multi-million pound industry has destroyed people’s lives. They have shown time and again that they will not effectively self-regulate. The Westminster APPG has set out over 30 recommendations to reform our online gambling industry and these changes cannot come soon enough. 

“We are looking forward to sharing our experience of calling for gambling reform with Stormont colleagues and working together where we can in the coming weeks and months to make gambling safer, fairer and better regulated in both GB and NI.”

The Stormont inquiry is expected to start taking evidence in September, following a report published last week by the Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm following a year-long inquiry.

Among the 30 recommendations were a call for stake limits for online slot content to be no higher than £2, a ban on all VIP schemes and inducements, a ban on all gambling advertising and a complete overhaul of gambling regulation in the UK. It also stated that the Gambling Commission is “not fit for purpose”.

The Stormont APG Chair, Robbie Butler MLA, said: “From our perspective the timing could not be better. We’ve been in touch to exchange notes and we’ll be asking the Westminster chair Carolyn Harris MP to give evidence to our inquiry when it begins in the autumn.

“This is not about banning gambling; it is about protecting the vulnerable and making our laws fit for purpose. Our members are from across the political divide and there is a very strong sense of common purpose between us. Working with our peers at Westminster will bring obvious benefits to the inquiry.”