New regulations for the gaming industry in Northern Ireland have been introduced this week in the country’s Assembly, significantly amending the current laws.
The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill creates new offences in permitting children to play gaming machines and provides powers to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators.
It establishes a mandatory code of practice for licence holders, broadens the definition of cheating to include attempted cheating, makes gambling contracts enforceable in law and permits bookmakers and bingo clubs to open on Sundays and on Good Friday.
The minimum age for minors to play a gambling machine is now 18 and it will become an offence to invite a person below that age to play. Previously, it was not an offence to permit an under-age person to gamble.
The statutory levy on gambling operators will be employed in a manner similar to the practice in England, where the money raised is used for community projects and treatment of problem gamblers.
An overhaul of online gambling legislation will form a second phase of the changes to Northern Ireland’s gambling scene and will follow after discussions.
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