WHILE it is generally accepted that gambling legislation in Northern Ireland is outdated and not fit for purpose, an intended change to the Customer Care Code as a review takes place is raising alarm bells among members of the Northern Ireland On-Course Bookmakers Association.

“The proposal is to make changes in two stages,” explained the NIOCBA’s chairman, Gerry Donnelly.

“The first stage, which is imminent, is to legislate with the purpose of targeting problem gamblers. Sitting alongside the legislative changes, the lead Department is proposing Codes of Practice for the NI gambling industry.

“Currently seven codes have been drafted dealing with various issues such as the use of credit cards, gaming machines, etc.

“However, the Customer Care Code levels a direct assault on on-course bookmaking in Northern Ireland.

“This code, as currently drafted, will require an on-course bookmaker to carry out an affordability check when taking a bet of £100 or more which is the suggested trigger point.

“The on-course bookmaker may be required to ask the punter can he afford this, his mortgage details, number of dependants, etc., and then maintain a record of this affordability check for five years.”

The consultation period on the Gambling Codes of Practice opened on Thursday last, January 27th, and closes at 5pm on Friday, February 25th. It is suggested that punters study the consultation document (to be found on https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-gambling-codes-practice) and contact the Department of Communities with any concerns you may have.