“Plans to change local gambling laws will only add to the current misery caused by betting addictions”, says Conor Duffy, Workers West Belfast representative.
Proposals brought before the Assembly would extend the opening hours of bookies’ shops and provide no body to regulate the local industry.
“Research on gambling addiction has found that Northern Ireland ranks third highest amongst the top twelve countries, worldwide. The level of gambling problem here is twice as high as it is in Wales, three time higher than in Scotland and more than four times higher than in England”, Conor revealed.
“These are not just cold statistics – these are the stories of people lives, and regrettably, in a number of cases their deaths as gambling problems can, and do, lead to people taking their own lives”, he said.
“We are constantly bombarded with television, radio and online advertising from betting companies. Many sporting teams and events are sponsored by betting companies. Internet betting has made gambling more accessible, more tempting and available around the clock.”, Conor added
“We need to urgently review our gambling culture and the consequences it can have. Millions of pounds in profit for betting companies can mean misery, and worse, for individuals and families”, he urged.
Further loosening the regulations around betting shops and gambling is not the way forward”, Conor concluded.