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Retail and online betting group Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, and William Hill have all agreed to lower the maximum wager on fixed odds betting terminals within Northern Ireland to £2, from the current £100 limit.
The move comes ahead of implementation that will be required in England, Scotland, and Wales as well in the next quarter, and will be implemented sooner in Northern Ireland, which also has a heavy betting culture. The decision has drawn praise from those in responsible gaming organizations as well as Belfast politicians such as councillor John Kyle, who said, "I'm delighted to say that in Northern Ireland, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill have said they will reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2.'
"It just remains for Sean Graham, McLeans and Toals to follow suit," he continued. "I would like them to show social responsibility by following the example of Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power and voluntarily reducing the maximum stake to £2.
"That would be a really responsible move and it would reduce significantly the damage that gambling addiction can do to individuals, families and communities."
A Paddy Power Spokesman also spoke about the move, stating: "We supported the stake reduction in the UK so think proactively applying it in Northern Ireland is the right thing to do."
Problem gambling has become a hot topic of debate across Northern Irelands, as the country has four times the gambling addiction rate of England, and there has been multiple discussions about how to curb the problem. The cutting of FOBT stakes is likely a key step, as critics have called the machines the "crack cocaine" of gambling, as wagers can be done repeatedly and are done very quickly.