Belfast City Council urges operators to implement FOBT rule

Belfast City Council has urged gambling operators to implement last year’s ruling to cut maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in Northern Ireland.

Gambling machines

Northern Ireland is exempt from gambling legislation made in the UK. © Pexels.

The UK Government ruled last November that maximum stakes on the machines would be cut from £100 to £2 as part of its efforts to reduce gambling related harm. The rule comes into force in April this year.

However, with the 2005 Gambling Act covering England, Scotland, and Wales, that legislation will not apply to Northern Ireland. Gambling legislation in the state falls under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries, and Amusements Order 1985.

That hasn’t stopped one operator from announcing they will voluntarily implement the new maximum stake across all their outlets in the country. Ladbrokes, who have over 60 shops in Northern Ireland, will implement the changes in April when the rule comes into force, despite not being obliged to do so.

Belfast City Council has urged other operators to follow suit. The Council is meeting this week and is set to introduce a motion that will urge other operators to implement the changes along with Ladbrokes. The motion was introduced by PUP councillor Dr John Kyle.

The meeting will also address social issues, such as how to offer better support and treatment for those suffering from gambling addiction. Northern Ireland has the highest rate of problem gambling in the UK, so action in that area appears vital, with the creation of a dedicated treatment service one suggestion, as highlighted in a statement issued by the Council:

The council also calls on the Department of Health to review the support given to individuals suffering from gambling addiction and calls for the creation of a dedicated service to address this addiction. The council will ask the Department of Health and Department for Communities to meet with an all-party delegation to discuss support for individuals suffering from gambling addiction and the status of FOBTs. Statement, Belfast City Council

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