Belfast councillor John Kyle urged betting companies to voluntarily reduce the stakes on FOBTs in the country.
Northern Ireland.- Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have been in lawmakers’ sights in the UK for a while now and a Northern Ireland official is looking to act on them. Belfast councillor John Kyle has asked bookmakers in the country to voluntarily reduce the stakes on the machines in order to counter their impact on problem gamblers.
“I think it is a really important issue for a couple of reasons. One is that gambling addiction is a significant problem for quite a number of people in Northern Ireland,” Dr Kyle told media outlet Belfast Live. “(Problem gambling) is estimated to affect 30-40,000 people in Northern Ireland and it can have a huge impact on them and their family, on employment, quality of life, on their finances, and housing. So it can be a massive problem for people who are affected or for whom it is an issue.”
Councillor Kyle announced that he will table the problem gambling motion during Monday night’s full council meeting and said that SDLP councillor Donal Lyons will second it.
The UK government confirmed a new maximum stake of £2 for FOBTs last November and, after some controversial decisions, set April as the enforcement date for the measure. However, Northern Ireland won’t be impacted by it as the Gambling Act 2005 is only valid for England, Scotland and Wales.