The Assembly of Northern Ireland will not review any changes to gambling laws, despite bipartisan calls for immediate action.

Following Thursday’s General Election, a new Assembly was formed in Northern Ireland, with Sinn Féin serving as Stormont’s largest party in Westminster.

Despite Sinn Féin taking no seats at the House of Commons, the election has brought a more diversified representation to Westminster. The new assembly includes six parties and one independent, representing the 18 constituencies of the devolved nation.

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons told Members of the Legislative Assembly: “Having reflected on the issues, I have concluded that 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. 

“For that reason, I have decided not to proceed with a Gambling Bill in this mandate.”

In 2019, Stormont began consulting on overhauling gambling laws under the ‘1985 Order on Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements’, which has no provisions for online gambling.

Even though NI gambling laws are outdated, Stormont has made no progress in launching a new gambling regime or amending existing laws to improve protections.

Yesterday, the Department for Communities (DfC) addressed a legislative question on gambling, stating that a new Gambling Bill is unlikely to be on the Assembly’s agenda.

DfC Minister Gordon Lyons said: “Drafting and passing a Bill of the required magnitude and complexity within the current mandate would be impossible.”

Stormont’s All-Party Group (APG) on reducing gambling-related harms called for a “complete overhaul” of Northern Ireland’s gambling laws.

The APG proposed 57 recommendations, including recognising problem gambling as a public health issue and appointing an independent regulator for gambling activities in Northern Ireland.

The group also suggested banning TV gambling ads between 5:30 am and 9:00 pm.

Campaigners are concerned that Northern Ireland’s assembly and authorities lack adequate means to measure the impact of problem gambling, lagging behind the UK and other European nations.