Northern Ireland bookmakers have collectively opted into FOBTs restrictions. While there’s no active legislation currently binding the industry, flagship brands have pre-emptively introduced the necessary changes themselves.
Bookmakers in Northern Ireland Cut FOBTs Betting Limits
Ladbrokes has been the first operator in Northern Ireland to announce that it will voluntarily restrict the limit for Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). Shortly after, more followed with two more flagship companies, William Hill and Paddy Power vowing their support of the measure.
As of January 26, there are five bookmakers which have so far expressed their support for slashing the £100 maximum bet on FOBTs down to £2, with A McLeans Bookmakers and Toals joining the three on Friday, January 25.
With the latest additions, the total number of betting shops to have restricted the FOBTs limits are 230 on the territory of Norther Ireland.
While bookmakers in Northern Ireland are bound by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and not the Gambling Act 2005, the companies have opted to pre-emptively diversify their portfolios and avoid overreliance on a segment that has become dubious from a legal standpoint.
Multiple Calls to Self-Regulate the Industry
The Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association (NITGA) has talked to bookmakers to consider slashing their rates to match the UK reduction to £2 as the maximum allowable stake. The move is coming into effect on April 1.
Another call was made by Cllr Kyle from the Belfast City Council who has advised companies in Norther Ireland to take heed from Ladbrokes and push ahead with voluntary reductions, as to comply with regulations in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health will focus its efforts to gauge whether adequate support has been given to individuals who are vulnerable to developing gaming addiction. The Department is specifically going to look into addiction developed as a direct result from FOBTs.
Are FOBTs in their Current Version Dangerous to Gamers and Business?
FOBTs pose a threat to gamers who are inclined to play relying on their spur-of-the-moment considerations, leading to the loss of substantial gaming funds.
There have been cases cited all throughout the United Kingdom that people have committed suicide following unsuccessful and possibly financially-ruinous gaming sessions on FOBTs. While the number of such incidents isn’t extensive, the fact that a gaming product can lead to this is alarming enough.
NITGA has commented that the combination of quick gameplay and high upper limit makes it dangerous for people who are inclined to indulge in gaming without thinking much first.
Now that five of the largest operators in Northern Ireland have agreed to comply with the non-legally binding request of politicians and lawmakers, the country is on its way to achieving better customer protection for its gamers.