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Gambling protections set to benefit whole of UK, thanks to Bishop’s intervention

Thu 18 Jul 2019
By Eno Adeogun

Gambling regulations in mainland Britain and Northern Ireland could soon be aligned after the Government accepted an amendment tabled in the House of Lords by the Bishop of St Albans.

The Bishop of Newcastle, who spoke as the amendment was tabled in the House of Lords, told peers that the current inconsistency meant that reforms introduced in most of the UK - such as the cap on the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) - do not apply in Northern Ireland.

“The anomalies and confusions abound,” she said.

 

“Gambling operates inconsistently within the UK, and this affects lives.”

The amendment was supported by Baroness Smith of Basildon, the shadow leader of the Lords, the Liberal Democrats and a DUP peer. It was adopted without any vote by the Government. 

The Bishop of St Albans welcomed the decision and said: “Currently people from Northern Ireland are three times more likely to have a gambling-related problem than in the rest of the country.

Creative Commons

 

“While the rest of the United Kingdom sees progress in reducing stakes on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals, and has independent regulation from the Gambling Commission, Northern Ireland is dependent on out-of-date legislation.

“Bypassing the 2005 Gambling Act, the Province instead uses an equivalent from 1985 resulting in legal grey-areas existing including on FOBTs.

“Even the advertising watchdog, the ASA, advises gambling companies to seek legal advice in Northern Ireland because the 2005 Act does not apply despite it underpinning the ASA’s codes on gambling which do apply there.

“I would encourage the Government to deliver their report into this with speed and I believe it will conclude that harmonisation and alignment on regulation and legislation is necessary.”

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