Gambling reform reaches final stage – Hargey

Date published: 08 March 2022

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey will today take gambling reforms through the Final Stage of the legislative process which will see the most substantial changes to gambling law here in nearly 40 years.

Minister Hargey pictured at her desk in Causeway Exchange
Minister Hargey pictured at her desk in Causeway Exchange

Last Autumn, the Minister introduced the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill as a first step in a two-phased approach to reforming the regulation of gambling here.

Minister Hargey said:

“Today sees the Bill complete its legislative passage through the Assembly. It will improve protection for children and young people through the creation of a new offence of inviting, causing or permitting a young person under 18 years to play a high stakes gaming machine.  It provides the creation of enabling powers to allow for a levy to be imposed on the industry as well as Codes of Practice.

“The Bill also provides increased opportunities for local charities, sports clubs and other voluntary groups to raise more money for good causes by increasing the maximum ticket price and simplifying the rules around deduction of expenses that apply to societies’ lotteries.”

The Minister emphasised that she saw this Bill as laying the ground work for much needed wider reforms in the next mandate which will include a new comprehensive legislative framework capable of regulating the online gambling industry wherever it is based and above all putting consumer safety at its heart.

Minister Hargey concluded:

“Every journey starts with the first step, and this Bill is the first step in a huge programme of reform of the gambling industry here, with more change to come in the next phase.”

More detail on the Bill is available at: Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill (

Notes to editors: 

1. Amongst other issues the Bill:

  • removes the current £1 price limit on the sale of societies lottery tickets and increases the limit to a maximum of £100;
  • sets a simpler, flat 20% limit on the amount of the proceeds of a lottery that may be appropriated for expenses;
  • create new offences in relation to allowing children to play gaming machines;
  • creates the power to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators;
  • creates the power to issue a code of practice for gambling operators; 
  • broadens the definition of cheating to include attempted cheating;
  • makes gambling contracts enforceable in law;
  • remove some of the restrictions on promotional prize competitions; and
  • permits Bookmakers and Bingo clubs to open on Sundays and Good Friday.

2. It is expected the majority of the provisions in the Bill will become law as soon as Royal Assent is received.

3. Consumers here who gamble online have some protections through the provisions of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 which makes it an offence to advertise gambling products here unless the operator holds a licence from the Gambling Commission in England.

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5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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