04/11/2012 : NORTHERN IRELAND POLITICIAN CALLS ON THE U.K. TO MAKE GAMBLING LAW CHANGES
 
Concerns about the impact of online gambling on problem gamblers
 
The Northern Ireland press is reporting on a call by politician Alex Maskey for the gambling laws in the United Kingdom to be updated to contend with internet gambling.
 
Maskey urged his colleagues in the Stormont Executive to put pressure on British Prime Minister David Cameron to update British and Northern Ireland gambling laws, expressing his concern as chair of the Social Development Committee that online gambling was increasingly impacting the incidence of problem gambling.
 
Increasing numbers of people were being drawn into gambling addiction," he claimed without producing substantiation of his statement. "We need to make sure that those people who fall foul of that are protected in some way or other," he said.
 
Press reports indicate that some bookmakers in Northern Ireland want to be allowed to open on Sundays in a bid to stay competitive with online gambling operators, used by an increasing number of punters to place bets through computers or mobile telephones.
 
Maskey said that internet gambling was a growing sector.
 
"Therefore, I believe it's a growing problem, because the more people that are enticed into that web, for most people it may be very interesting and they may be well able to control it, the law of averages tells us some people fall foul of that," he added, urging the government to issue a clear statement on its intentions.
 
Maskey said his committee was "in somewhat of a limbo because we are waiting to hear whether the department or the minister are actually intending to do anything".
 
"If they tell us they are intending to do nothing, then I think our committee would take the view that the department, at the very least, needs to lobby whatever government department has the responsibility for this type of industry, because it does cause harm to members of the public which we represent."