06/12/2010

NI Gamblers 'Need Better Laws'

An official survey has revealed the need for tighter controls on gambling, because some 2% of the adult population in Northern Ireland have a gambling problem.

The fact was revealed in a survey commissioned by the Department for Social Development to inform the review of Northern Ireland's outdated gambling laws.

In response, the Stormont Social Development Minister highlighted the need for tighter controls on gambling.

Alex Attwood (pictured) said: "I am grateful to my predecessor Margaret Ritchie for commissioning this survey which will influence the direction for the review of gambling.

"People will understandably be concerned about some of the survey findings.
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"We need to sit up and take notice. I am formulating ideas for better controls on gambling and will discuss them with Ministerial colleagues. I expect to publish a consultation paper on industry reforms in the very near future," he said today.

The Minister added: "While my Department is not responsible for the treatment or care of those who may suffer from problem gambling I will be bringing forward in the consultation measures aimed at minimising the harmful effects of gambling.

"I will work closely with all interests to develop a balanced package of reforms for the industry," he said, noting that the survey also measured attitudes to and levels of participation in gambling.

It showed that just over 67% had an unfavourable attitude to gambling; nearly 24% had a favourable attitude while almost 9% were neutral.

Around 75% of respondents had taken part in some form of gambling within the past 12 months with the most popular form of gambling in Northern Ireland being the National Lottery (51%).

The other most popular gambling activities are local raffles and ballots (38%), scratch cards (28%) and betting with a bookmaker (20%).

(BMcC/GK)

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