Northern Ireland Amends Gambling Bill

Published October 7, 2021 by Sol FH

Northern Ireland Amends Gambling Bill

Northern Ireland has designed legislation to amend gambling laws after 3 decades.

The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries, and Amusements Bill passed the first of seven bureaucratic stages towards becoming law after it was presented by Deirdre Hargey, the Minister for Communities, last week. In order to become a law, the bill must be passed before 2022, as the Assembly's current mandate will expire.

The main amendments in the new legislation will create a set of new offenses for those that allow children to play on gaming machines, enable new powers to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators, and establish a code of practice for those with gambling licenses.

The bill would update the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985, the province’s most recent gambling legislation, from over 30 years ago.
More Reform Ahead

Hargey stated that the bill is the first phase to reforming gambling law. The much bigger task at hand will be to deal with iGaming, which will be introduced in the coming months. 

In order to explain the amendment bill, the Department for Communities commented: “The overarching objective of the bill is to address a number of specific anomalies with regard to the current regulation of land-based betting, gaming, lottery, and amusement activities. It is also designed to strengthen existing regulatory protections for operators and consumers as well as young people and those who may be vulnerable to gambling harm."

Members of the Legislative Assembly will debate and then vote on the overarching principles of the bill before it will most likely progress to the committee stage. The bill will then be brought back to the Assembly for MLAs to debate and vote on the details and any proposed amendments. If/when passed, it must then be approved by the Secretary of State, who presents it for final Royal Assent.

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