19/02/2020

'Time To Stop Gambling With Lives'

The Alliance Party has thrown its weight behind a charity campaign to restrict gambling abuse across Northern Ireland.

Gambling With Lives is seeking updates to legislation to better restrict betting and gambling in the hope of preventing more deaths by those who grow addicted.

The charity was set up by the families and friends of young men who have taken their own lives as a direct result of their addiction. These were all very normal, bright, popular and happy young men who had great futures ahead of them. Gambling was their only problem.

No one knows how many deaths are related to gambling each year; but research indicates that are between 250 and 650 gambling related suicides every year in the UK, a minimum of one every working day, according to the charity.

The campaign comes amid a period of consultation on current laws in Northern Ireland to seek views on whether change is necessary.

Alliance spokesperson on Communities, Kellie Armstrong MLA, supports the campaign.
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She said: "Gambling preys on vulnerable people and ruins lives. Around 10% of people who take their own lives do so as a result of their gambling addiction. Addiction to slot machines, online betting and lotteries is more than an issue about money, gambling kills. It's vital the Assembly moves forward on gambling legislation as a matter or urgency, to save more people from being pulled into a life destroying habit.

"Northern Ireland has not had an update to our legislation on gambling since the 1980s. The maximum gambling fee permitted in law remains 50p but as that law is not enforced, many gambling machines exceed this maximum betting amount.

"Online gambling means access to betting is available 24 hours a day and often with little checks on the age of people using these sites.

"It's time to stop gambling with lives," the Strangford MLA concluded.

The Department for Communities consultation will close this Friday, 21 February, at 5pm.

Members of the public can submit a response online.



(JG/MH)

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