Both Stormont and Westminster politicians will ‘exchange notes’ on ways to tackle gambling problems as both parties seek to tighten up gambling legislation.
The collaboration will see Stormont’s All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling launch its investigation into reforming the obsolete gambling legislation of Northern Ireland which will hear evidence from Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of Westminster’s Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG).
Robbie Butler, MLA, chair of the Stormont APG 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.”
The inquiry into Stormont is due to start taking evidence in September. It follows the inquiry carried out last week by their Westminster counterpart.
The hard-hitting study recommended a range of UK gambling changes, including a review of the UK Gambling Commission, a complete ban on gambling advertisements and stricter stake and deposit cap limits.
Carolyn Harris MP further added: “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.”
Philip McGuigan MLA, Stormont APG vice-chairman, concluded: “I’ve studied the Westminster report carefully and there is much in it that will help our members in our deliberations. Gambling harm is a major issue on this island and in Britain. It is important, therefore, that as we try to address that issue and modernise our legislation here in the North so that it is fit for purpose that we learn and share best practice with others.”