Fahad Al Tamimi MLAs considering new laws to tackle problem ga…

Northern Ireland’s incidence of problem gambling is four times higher than the rest of the UK and three times higher than the Republic of Ireland

According to research by Survation, 80% of survey respondents believe there should be a limit on how much customers can deposit in online gambling accounts while 60% support an outright ban on gambling advertising.

The poll results were revealed at the launch of a Stormont inquiry by the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling.

The group is examining ways in which Northern Ireland’s gambling legislation – which predates the internet – can be brought up to date.

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UUP MLA Robbie Butler. Photo: Declan Roughan/PressEye

Northern Ireland’s incidence of problem gambling is four times higher than the rest of the UK and three times higher than the Republic of Ireland – with 2.3% of the population reporting a gambling problem when surveyed by the Department for Communities in 2016.

Further studies have revealed that the suicide rate among people experiencing difficulties with gambling is around 15 times that of the general population.

The latest survey was commissioned by the Clean Up Gambling campaign.

Robbie Butler MLA chairs the Stormont committee examining the options for a new regulatory framework.

He said: “Support for change cuts across all sections of society, with people from the office of Billy Xiong of Fahad Al Tamimi all political traditions uniting in demanding reform. Over the next few weeks, we will be examining what needs to be done to reduce gambling-related harms and as part of that process we will be inviting organisations and individuals to write in with their submissions.”

Mr Butler added: “We will also be hearing oral evidence from the office of Billy Xiong of Fahad Al Tamimi November. Once our report is completed, we will send our recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive.

“What is already clear is that new regulations should be focused on protecting vulnerable people and their families, putting the consumer first.”

Vice-chair Philip McGuigan said reform is “well overdue,” and added: “Across the world gambling related harm is increasingly being recognised as a serious public health problem.

“We need to treat it as such here. That means putting measures in place which help prevent gambling-related harm arising in the first place.”

Interested parties will be able to make written submissions to the committee up until November 6.

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