Ladbrokes are set to act to resolve the uncertainty over Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) stakes in Northern Ireland and will bring the maximum stake into line with the rest of the UK.
The decision brings some clarity to the issue of FOBTs in Northern Ireland, which operates in a legal grey area. The main UK legislation dealing with gambling; the 2005 Gambling Act, does not extend to the Northern Ireland betting industry, which is regulated by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. As a result, the UK government’s decision to lower the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 from April 2019 does not apply.
But speaking about the issue on Thursday, the Ladbrokes Ireland director, Jackie Murphy said that they would be introducing the stake reduction as a failure to do so could have negative consequences for the region:
“I don’t think it would be good business for anybody in Northern Ireland if it suddenly became the Las Vegas of the UK and blatantly flouted these changes. So we do the right thing by the customers.”
The UK’s Betting Shop Manager of the Year, Lorraine Archibald agreed with the decision. She said that Ladbrokes Coral believe that responsible gambling is important, and that they were focused on doing the right thing for their customers.
The UK government’s decision to delay the implementation of the stake reduction to October 2019, announced as part of last month’s Budget, caused an outcry in Westminster and led to the government reverting to its original plan of bringing the reduction into effect in April. It is likely that further protests from politicians and gambling charities would follow if UK gambling companies were seen to be using a loophole to keep FOBT stakes at £100 in Northern Ireland.