Communities Minister says action is underway to make gambling safer in Northern Ireland

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Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said the measures she is presenting through the Assembly will help make gambling safer.

The minister was speaking at the start of Safer Gambling Week, an industry-led initiative to educate customers on how to gamble more safely.

Ms Hargey said: “I submit to the Assembly a bill which contains provisions which:

  • create new offenses that prohibit young people under the age of 18 from being in areas with high-stakes slot machines;
  • give any future minister the power to introduce a statutory levy on the gaming industry;
  • provide some clarification on the rules for prize contests.

She added, “Tackling problem gambling requires a multi-agency approach, which is why I created an interdepartmental working group to look at the areas of treatment, education and prevention.

The minister is also launching a brief targeted consultation on a mandatory code of practice for the gaming industry with key stakeholders this week.

Code requirements will include:

  • a ban on the use of credit cards in gambling transactions;
  • a ban on the practice of reverse withdrawals and the location of ATMs in gaming establishments;
  • additional protections for children and youth, including age verification standards;
  • tighter controls on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT).

Minister Hargey said, “I plan to make compliance with the Code a condition of the license. I am determined to raise standards in the industry and to hold operators more accountable for the damage caused to certain customers. “

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