A Northern Irish charity has dubbed an MLA’s decision to speak openly about gambling’s severe impact on his life as “exceptionally brave”.
CARE NI Policy OfficerMark Baillie welcomed Philip McGuigan’s openness regarding an addiction to gambling that cost him more than £100,000.
“Stories like his help to raise awareness about the harms problem gambling can cause, not only to individuals but to families and communities,” Mr Bailie said.
Sinn Féin’s Mr McGuigan said he wanted Northern Ireland’s gambling laws to be changed to protect others from falling into the same trap he fell into. He developed an addiction to online poker and over the course of eight years lost £100,000.
Mr Bailie said that “now that the Executive is restored, reforming our outdated gambling laws should be a top priority”.
“Hopefully the public consultation being run by the Department of Communities will lead to genuine root and branch reform of the law.
“Mr McGuigan’s own experience highlights the need for stronger protections, both online and offline and the need for a mandatory levy to ensure gambling companies are made to do their bit.”
Gambling legislation in Northern Ireland is different than the rest of the United Kingdom, with the key legislation being the Betting, Gaming, Lottery and Amusements (NI) Order 1985.
This was passed decades before the rise of highly addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), the development of online gambling and smartphones that support all sorts of sophisticated online gaming which can be done anywhere, without much-needed restrictions.