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Northern Ireland’s Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, has declared that country would bring reforms to the gambling laws shortly.

A bill to amend the existing laws will be tabled in the Assembly in the next few weeks. When the legislature passes the bill, it will be the first time the last 35 years that Northern Ireland would be making significant changes in its gambling laws.

The proposed amendments reportedly include provision to open betting outlets on Sundays and making gambling contracts enforceable by law.

The bill will also make allowing children to play gaming machines an offence, apart from imposing a statutory levy on gambling operators.

Minister Hargey said:

“Gambling legislation has remained largely unchanged since it was enacted 35 years ago. As a result, gambling regulation here has not kept pace with industry and technological changes. In my view change is long overdue.

“It is clear from our consultation that people are content for some of the existing legal constraints on gambling to be relaxed.

“But they also believe that government, the gambling industry and others need to do much more to prevent, control and combat problem gambling.”