Hargey – steps underway to make gambling safer

Date published: 01 November 2021

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

Hargey – steps underway to make gambling safer
Hargey – steps underway to make gambling safer

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

The Minister said:

“I am bringing a Bill through the Assembly which contains provisions that:

  • create new offences which make it illegal for young people under 18 to be in areas where high-stake gaming machines are located;
  • give any future Minister the power to introduce a statutory levy on the gambling industry;
  • provide some clarification of the rules around prize competitions.

Tackling the issue of problem gambling needs a multi-agency approach which is why I have established a Cross-Departmental Working Group to look at the areas of treatment, education and prevention.”

The Minister is also launching a short, focused consultation on a Mandatory Code of Practice for the gambling industry with key stakeholders this week.

Requirements within the Code 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 gambling establishments;
  • further protections for children and young people including age verification standards;
  • tighter controls on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

Minister Hargey said:

“I am planning to make compliance with the Code a condition of the licence.  I am determined to drive up standards in the industry and make operators take greater responsibility for the harm caused to some customers.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. A copy of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill is available here
  1. A copy of the 2016 Gambling Prevalence Survey is available here
  1. The sources of help that are currently available for those with a gambling problem include:
  • Dunlewey Substance Advice Centre or Call FREE on 0800 886 725.
  • Online gamblers can use the free GAMSTOP self-exclusion register to exclude themselves for a fixed time period from gambling on all licenced websites. Responsible land-based operators also offer a self-exclusion facility. 
  • ‘Blocking’ software is also available if anyone wants to limit access to online gambling websites.  This software allows the user to block access to gambling websites from their laptop, tablet or phone or other device.  
  • Most banks now offer the ability to limit spending on gambling, and gambling transactions can easily be blocked using your banking app.
  • There are also tips on how to control the amount of gambling related content you see on Twitter or Facebook available via the Gambling Commission website
  1. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @CommunitiesNI

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