A consultation has been launched in Northern Ireland on new proposals which may help problem gamblers.
The consultation was launched by the Department of Communities (DoC) and will remain open until 21 February.
It covers a wide array of issues, such as tighter regulation around casinos and online gambling, as well as better research, education and treatment for individuals who have a gambling problem.
Christian advocacy organisation CARE welcomed the moves by the DoC, as its Northern Ireland (NI) Office has previously said that NI has an ‘extraordinary’ rate of problem gambling, which makes the new consultation even more significant.
In a statement following the DoC announcement, Mark Baillie, policy officer for CARE NI, said the current law in the country was ‘badly failing individuals and families’. He expressed hope that the result of the public consultation would be new laws that protect vulnerable problem gamblers.
Mr Baillie said, ‘This consultation is a welcome step forward from the Department of Communities. The current law is no longer fit for purpose and real people right across our society are suffering as a consequence.
‘NI has proportionally the highest problem gambling prevalence within the UK. Yet despite this fact, we do not have joined-up thinking across government here to respond to the challenges this poses.
‘We sincerely hope the outcome of this consultation will be much needed reform that will prioritise the needs of those who are vulnerable to problem gambling and will seek to put in place robust protections for them’.