Gambling has been around for many a year, and it is increasing in popularity, particularly with younger generations on online websites and apps. Due to the addictive nature of gambling and the monetary involvement, there is legislation in place to help protect vulnerable consumers amongst other reasons, which is why gambling is a regulated activity.
In Northern Ireland, gambling (other than the National Lottery) is regulated by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries & Amusements (NI) Order 1985. That being said, due to the advances in technology shown in the gambling industry and the rise of online gambling, the gambling legislation arguably needs to be updated to keep up-to-date with the times.
Recently, there has been pressure put on the NI Executive to revise the gambling legislation, but no changes have been put in place as of yet.
How does Northern Ireland compare to the rest of the UK?
Although the rest of the UK follows the legislation proposed by the Gambling Commission, Northern Ireland however does not, and there is no central regulator for gambling in Northern Ireland.
The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries & Amusements (NI) Order of 1985 is therefore still in place, and not much change has been made since the order was brought out 35 years ago; despite the ongoing growth of the online gambling industry.
Who is involved in enforcing gambling legislation?
In Northern Ireland, gambling activities are licensed by the courts and district councils, the Department for Communities licenses all track betting, and the PSNI is responsible for enforcing the laws.
Enforcing gambling legislation in the online world we live in has brought about a number of challenges for law enforcers, such as for the PSNI.
When it comes to enforcing gambling legislation for online gambling, this is particularly difficult to do due to the outdated legislation. Gambling business owners have also expressed their concern in the lack of clarity there is available to them in terms of what they can and cannot do when it comes to the operation and promotion of their business.
Furthermore, the outdated gambling legislation does not forbid a Northern Ireland resident from using for example, online casinos, as long as the casino is registered outside of Northern Ireland.
Therefore in recent years, many individuals who enjoy traditional table gambling such as, blackjack or poker, are allowed to take part online.
Many argue that the 1985 order is holding Northern Ireland’s economy back, due to it not considering the modern world we live in and not allowing gambling businesses in Northern Ireland to grow in line with the rest of the UK industry whilst the online gambling industry continues to grow.
Is gambling legislation likely to change in Northern Ireland?
Due to the growing popularity of online gambling in particular, and the fact that in a recent survey 90% of respondents stated that they would like a central regulator for gambling in Northern Ireland, it is likely that the gambling legislation of Northern Ireland will be reviewed and updated in due course.
This would help to provide more clarity for those businesses operating in the gambling industry, so that they can provide entertainment in a safe yet profitable manner; whilst providing entertainment for Northern Ireland consumers.
At McPartland & Sons, our solicitors work hard to stay up-to-date with ongoing gambling legislation changes. If you would like to speak to a solicitor about how you are affected by gambling legislation in Northern Ireland, contact us.