The All Party Group (APG) on Gambling Harm Reduction in Northern Ireland was formed in March 2020. The group sought to address and reduce the harm of gambling by advocating effective change and conducting various investigations.
APG Announces the Launch of a New Inquiry
On Tuesday, APG announced the launch of a new investigation into a public health approach to gambling-related harm in the country. The study is open until Friday, February 3, 2023, when APG will collect the submitted written evidence. The public health approach often addresses other health problems such as alcohol use, smoking, or obesity. Citing the investigation, APG claims the game’s current focus is on “people’s attitudes and behaviours”. It cannot determine the public health impact, making it less effective. Finally, with the new public health survey, APG is asking various experts, academic groups and health professionals to submit their responses.
The group also asked stakeholders, healthcare professionals, and gambling experts, among others, to participate in the investigation and provide written evidence.
Public Health Approach Needed for Gambling, Says APG Chair
According to APG President Robbie Butler MLA, calling for a public health approach can widen the peak and shift people’s focus to treating gaming detriment as a public health issue. He refocused that this approach was formerly used for other dependencies similar to alcohol, smoking, or eating.
“A public health approach to gambling-related detriment would shift the focus from the individual problem bettor to a much broader consideration of the causes of gambling-related detriment, which can also be placed within a broader public health policy frame.”
“One of the crucial recommendations that surfaced from the APG’s first disquisition into unborn gambling regulation was that gambling should be officially honored as a public health issue”, Butler added. He explained that APG calls for effective regulation concentrated on detriment forestallment, delivery of treatments, and prioritisation of health.
Butler added that strategies for internal health and self-murder forestallment should incorporate styles to combat gambling dependence.
“We encourage, among others, healthcare professionals, stakeholders, academics, department officers and those with particular experience to share in this discussion.”
Establishing of Independent Gambling Regulator Is Needed
Opening an earlier investigation, APG admitted that it had received “overwhelming support” for establishing an independent regulator. This is because no regulatory body in Northern Ireland is currently responsible for enforcing gambling laws. Regulation has the power to impose fines, prosecute operators who break the rules, and revoke their licenses. This is different in the UK, where a regulator oversees these processes. At the same time, APG recalled data from a 2016 Department for the Community Survey, which found that gambling affects around 2.3% of the population of Northern Ireland. In contrast, this rate is significantly lower in Ireland and the UK.