Northern Ireland Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has urged Stormont Assembly ministers to support amendments that will tighten the country’s gambling laws – and allow bingo and betting on Sundays.
Unchanged for the last 35 years, Hargey is pushing for Northern Ireland’s regulations to catch up to that of it’s compatriots across the Irish Sea, with many of her plans mirroring recent changes by the UK’s Gambling Commission.
This September, Northern Ireland’s assembly approved Hargey’s ‘first phase amendments’, which include regulations to improve the protection of under-18s, to establish a ‘mandatory code of practice’ license holders, and to allow bookmakers and bingo clubs to open on Sundays and Good Friday. Once adopted, Hargey stated that the amendments will also allow ministers to introduce a statutory levy on the sector, as well as a ban on credit card transactions and reverse withdrawals, venue requirements on underage verification, and tighter controls FOBTs.
“I am planning to make compliance with the Code a condition of the licence,” Hargey concluded. “I am determined to drive up standards in the industry and make operators take greater responsibility for the harm caused to some customers.”