Politicians from Belfast and London are set to work together in the cause of tightening up gambling legislation across the UK.
Leading politicians from Stormont and Westminster will be collaborating on potential changes that will affect the gambling sector in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Stormont’s All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling is set to launch its inquiry into the reform of the Northern Ireland gambling legislative framework, and is set to hear evidence from Carolyn Harris MP who chairs the Westminster Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group.
The chair of the Stormont body, Robbie Butler, said that it was a good time to seek collaboration with the Westminster group. He also said that his group were not focused on punishing the industry but on updating Northern Ireland’s gambling laws to better protect individuals:
“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 Stormont inquiry will start to take evidence in September, and follows an inquiry carried out by the Westminster group, which was published last week. The report demanded a range of reforms to UK gambling, which included an overhaul of the UK Gambling Commission, tighter controls on stakes and deposits and a total ban on gambling advertising.
Speaking about the need for reform, Harris said that the industry could not be relied upon to self regulate. She added that her Group had put forward more than 30 recommendations to improve the way that the industry operates and that she was looking forward to working with the Northern Ireland Group to help make gambling safer and better regulated throughout the UK.
Commenting on the Westminster report, the Vice Chair of the Stormont Committee, Philip McGuigan, added that gambling harm was a major issue, and that in order to modernise the legislative framework in Northern Ireland, it was important to work with and learn from others.