gambling machines

CARE highlights need for gambling law reform in NI on BBC radio

8th Jan 2019 - Rachael Adams

Problem gambling is a big issue across Northern Ireland with four times as many problem gamblers as in England. Yesterday Belfast City Council held a debate on problem gambling and the shocking lack of support for gambling addicts.

CARE welcomed the debate and echoed the call that urgent action needed to be taken. Mark Baillie, CARE's Northern Ireland Policy Officer was interviewed on BBC Radio Talkback about Northern Ireland's gambling legislation, which you can listen to below.

Our comments were also picked up in the following:

For many, gambling is an enjoyable hobby, but for a significant minority there’s no fun involved at all and gambling addiction can be enormously damaging for individuals, families and communities. Despite this, there is a shocking lack of adequate support for problem gamblers. This needs to change. It’s not good enough that accessing support services is so dependent on how much money you earn.

The British Government has taken steps against highly addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), but that decision does not apply in NI and FOBTs in NI operate in a legal grey area. Ladbrokes have set the pace with their decision to voluntarily reduce the stakes in their shops in Northern Ireland but so far no other bookie has publicly announced that they are doing the same. Hopefully this debate will provide other betting companies with extra motivation to take action.

Of course there is a limit to what one council can achieve and the real need is for a functioning Assembly. The social devastation caused by problem gambling is yet another reason why we need the Assembly back up and running as soon as possible.

Read Mark Baillie's excellent blog on why Northern Ireland needs to update it's laws on gambling here. 


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