An outcome report on the consultation was published on the departmental website in November 2020. There was overwhelming support for reform of the gambling legislation, and I am on record as saying that that reform is long overdue. Given the scale of reform that is needed, I am keen to bring forward proposals for some regulatory change in this mandate and have advised the Committee for Communities of my intention to do so in the schedule of legislation. As soon as I am in a position to do so, I will make an announcement on the way forward as quickly as possible.
Minister, thank you for your answer. Your commitment to legislate in this mandate is really appreciated.
Article 168 of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 prohibits promotional non-skill prize draws linked to a product. Will the legislation take into consideration the fact that UK-wide companies undertake promotional prize competitions linked to the purchase of a product and that Northern Ireland consumers will be disadvantaged as they will not be involved?
I welcome the Minister's points. I want to give the Minister the opportunity to join me in wishing our football team the very best of luck tonight as they face Ukraine and try to defend a 2-1 lead and, hopefully, do even better.
Will the Minister's proposals ban the gambling practices that are most likely to cause harm? Is she considering practices such as free bets, free spins, VIP schemes and reverse withdrawal functions?
Yes, all those options are being looked at and their impact considered. I am looking at the health implications and the services around gambling addiction. When the consultation went out, there was a recognition that reform was definitely needed in those areas.
Of course, I wish the team well tonight. Hopefully, they will come home with a victory.
That issue is being looked at. Obviously, because of the nature of social media and the opportunities for online gambling that are presented to people, it is a growing issue. Of course, we are proactively looking at ways to engage. We are discussing the health impact that it has at the other end. We want any legislation to look at prevention before it gets to the critical point where people need assistance with their addiction. We are in regular engagement on those options and will lay them out in the time ahead, taking into consideration the increasing issue of online gambling.