Betting, gaming, lotteries and amusements

Legislation in relation to gambling (other than the National Lottery) in Northern Ireland.

Overview of the current law

In Northern Ireland gambling (other than the National Lottery) is regulated under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries & Amusements (NI) Order 1985 ("the Order") (the 1985 Order) as amended by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022.  

This legislation regulates a wide range of betting, gaming, lotteries and amusement activity in Northern Ireland.  This includes:- betting in bookmaking offices and on tracks; the use, supply and maintenance of gaming machines; gaming in bingo clubs; small scale amusements with prizes; and lotteries other than the National Lottery

The Department is responsible for setting the overall regulatory framework for gambling and has the power, where appropriate, to publish industry Codes of Practice about the manner in which facilities for gambling are provided. The Department is also responsible for issuing track-betting licences.

The courts and district councils license and certify most gambling activities.  The courts ultimately determine if any offences or breaches of the law may have been committed and the appropriate penalties.  Responsibility for enforcing gambling law lies with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Further guidance

DfC has published a number of guides on various aspects of the law on gambling.  DfC guidance leaflets can be found at the links below.

Review of existing law

In May 2021, the Minister for Communities announced plans for a two-phased review of existing gambling law.  The first phase of that review was completed in 2022.  This involved the introduction of amending legislation - the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 – to address a number of anomalies in the 1985 Order and to give the Department more power in certain areas to encourage and promote socially responsible practices.

Phase two will require a much longer timescale and will include a completely new regulatory framework which will regulate online gambling, including gaming machines.

Consultation

In December 2019, the Department for Communities launched a public consultation on the regulation of gambling in Northern Ireland.

This consultation, which ran from 16 December 2019 to 21 February 2020, sought the public’s views on the appropriateness of current gambling law here. This was to help identify areas of gambling activity that might be included in any future legislation.

A report on the results of that consultation together with response tables have been prepared and are available at the link below.

Consultation on Regulation of Gambling in Northern Ireland | Department for Communities (communities-ni.gov.uk)

Literature review


Related to Betting, gaming, lotteries and amusements

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for Communities including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme. You may also request your own personal information, via a Right of Access Request.

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