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Join date: 12 may 2022


The Gambling Act 2005 applies to England and Wales. It also applies to Scotland,19 but with some differences: for example, some of the powers to make secondary legislation in relation to Scotland are given to Scottish Ministers The Gambling Commission has no power to prosecute offences in Scotland; that power rests solely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, to whom the Commission can refer the results of an investigation.

The Act20 does not however apply to Northern Ireland, where gambling is still governed by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985,21 itself based on the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, the Gaming Act 1968 and the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, nearly all of which the 2005 Act repealed and replaced for the rest of the United Kingdom.22 The law in Northern Ireland is therefore much more restrictive than in the rest of the United Kingdom; casinos are not permitted, and poker, bingo and other games cannot be organised commercially in licensed premises. Betting shops and commercial bingo clubs do not open on Sundays, a sensitive issue in the Province. On the other hand, online gambling is almost unrestricted, since the 1985 Order contains no provisions governing it.

In 2011 the Northern Ireland Department for Communities initiated a review “to investigate the key elements of Northern Ireland’s gambling policy, practice and law, and identify areas where reform is necessary if gambling is to remain a safe social activity.” On 6 March 2011 the Department issued a consultation paper.23 The Northern Ireland Executive announced in February 2013 that it intended “to update the Province’s outdated gambling laws to align them more with those that operate throughout the rest of the UK.” Nothing however happened until 16 December 2019 when the Department for Communities issued a fresh consultation on gambling law in Northern Ireland.

That consultation closed on 21 February 2020. The results are still awaited. Our recommendations do not therefore extend to Northern Ireland. We hope that those involved in formulating new laws regulating gambling in the Province will nevertheless find our views useful.


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