NI Sports Forum Gambling Bill Consultation Response

Further to the introduction of this Bill to the Assembly in September, the Committee for Communities has launched its ‘call for evidence’ and seeks your views. The closing date has been extended to 26 November 2021. The NI Sports Forum response is outlined at the bottom of this page.

The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985 and deal with a number of key issues of concern around gambling.

The Bill includes provision for the removal of the £1 cap on the price of a Societies’ lottery ticket which we warmly welcome.  It also includes provision for various aspects of gambling such as Sunday opening of bookmakers and bingo clubs; offences allowing under 18s to play gaming machines; prize competitions; cheating; gambling contracts; industry levy; and code of practice.  The Bill and explanatory information can be viewed at the following link  Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill.

The NI Sports Forum is only providing comments on the relevant policy areas which affect the sports sector, namely societies’ lotteries and any potential gambling levy.  We acknowledge that other organisations which have experience of the fallout from problem gambling will be best placed to comment on the other policy issues.

Call for evidence

The Assembly’s Committee for Communities wants to hear your views on this Bill. The NI Sports Forum would also urge all sports organisations and societies and their supporters to use this opportunity to submit your own response. Please note that you do not need to answer all sections of the questionnaire, for example,  if you only want to welcome the removal of the £1 cap on the price of a lottery ticket then just answer Question 19.

Please click on the following link to access the Call for Evidence online questionnaire which also includes access to a pdf of all consultation questions.

NI Sports Forum Response to the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill 

We have outlined our response below exactly as it would appear in the sections of the online questionnaire.  Our response is based on our ongoing work in this area and also from work on previous gambling consultations held by the Department for Communities. We have only outlined responses to questions we felt were relevant to our sector.

6– Do you think that the Bill will meet its overall policy objectives to: address a number of specific anomalies with regard to the current regulation of land based betting, gaming, lottery and amusement activities and to strengthen existing regulatory protections for operators and consumers as well as young people and those who may be vulnerable to gambling harm?

Yes

Please explain your answer:

In respect of the amendment to the rules for societies’ lotteries, it does. The NI Sports Forum does not envisage any objections to reforming societies lotteries as this is quite often seen as fundraising as opposed to gambling. We attended a consultation with Department for Communities consultation on the regulation of gambling in January 2020, most participants agreed that they didn’t associate buying a raffle ticket as gambling but rather seen it as supporting a good cause. Fundraising through raffles etc is vital for the sports sector and community organisations.

7- Do you foresee any unintended consequences of any of the policy objectives of the Bill?

Other

Please explain your answer:

We are concerned that required changes have not been included in initial changes and this may impact overall legislation requirements

19 Clause 9: “Rules for societies’ lotteries”. This clause amends Article 137 of the 1985 Order to remove the £1 ticket price for society lotteries– do you agree with this removal?

Yes

Please explain your answer:

The current rules for societies’ lotteries are completely outdated and limiting the fundraising capacity of many of our sports clubs and the NI Sports Forum warmly welcomes the provision to remove the £1 ticket price of a society lottery ticket. Sports clubs have a strong ethos when it comes to fundraising. Limiting tickets to £1 is a barrier to the development of sporting activity or capital development for facilities. Sports clubs are embedded in their communities should be permitted to set its own ticket price as it is better placed to know what price would be acceptable to charge. Sports club members see the activity as a way of supporting the activities of their clubs rather than overall ambition to win a prize.

Provision to increase the caps on ticket sales and prizes have not been included in this Bill, that is, the £80,000 cap on total value of ticket sales in each lottery has not been revised, neither has the £25,000 cap on the maximum value of a prize.

The NI Sports Forum understands that the Minister would be considering amending these caps by secondary legislation (as opposed to inclusion in primary legislation) as she has the power to do so under Article 137(21) of the existing Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985. While we appreciate that the Minister has already used her powers to permit Societies to sell their lottery tickets online from 7 September 2021 there has been no date set for further regulations to increase the caps on ticket sales and prizes that we are aware of. Secondary legislation should be implemented to change these caps before April 2022 otherwise a future Minister may not see the need for this to happen.

20 Clause 9 will also amend Article 137 of the 1985 Order to alter the limit on the amount which may be appropriated for the expenses of a society lottery to 20% of the whole proceeds. Do you feel that this is an appropriate limit?

Yes

Please explain your answer:

This would appear appropriate

 

22 Clause 10: Do you feel that it is appropriate to remove the residency restrictions?

Other

Please explain your answer:

Would this mean that lottery consultants in GB could then promote GB society lotteries in NI? If so, this provision should only be included if Societies in NI are able to generate the same income from a societies lottery and have the same prizes as Societies are permitted in GB.

 

28 Clause 14: “Industry Levy”. This Clause inserts a new Article 172A (Industry Levy) into the 1985 Order to will allow the Department to make regulations with regard to the payment of a levy to the Department by every person who intends to apply for the grant or renewal of a bookmakers’ licence, bookmaking office licence, bingo club licence, gaming machine certificate or permit and amusement permit. Do you think that is right to introduce such a levy?

Yes

Please explain your answer:

The primary market for bookmakers would be the sporting sector. A levy placed on bookmakers etc could provide further investment in sport and physical activity programmes to encourage more people to become physically active and therefore prevent long lasting poor health.

29 Clause 14: The aim of the levy is that it will be expended on projects related to gambling addiction or other associated forms of harm and exploitation and that financial assistance may be provided by grants, loans or any other form of financial assistance. Do you think that this is an appropriate use of the levy?

Other

Please explain your answer:

While this is an important area and the NI Sports Forum would support this approach, we firmly believe that the levy could provide further investment in sport and physical activity programmes to encourage more people to become physically active and therefore prevent long lasting poor health. Pressures on the health service make increased participation in sport and physical activity more important than ever. A percentage of the levy to support the vision of the upcoming Strategy on Sport and Physical would be transformative for grassroots sports clubs and governing bodies. Prevention is better than the cure when it comes to health treatment

30 Clause 14: Do you have any further comments on what the regulations should cover or how the levy should be spent?

Any further comments?:

An adequate percentage for sport and physical activities would be appropriate

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