Northern Ireland Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has confirmed plans to change gambling laws in the country with a two-phased approached to progress changes in the current Assembly mandate to allow casinos to open.
Over 60 per cent of those who responded to a recent consultation supported a rule change to allow casinos in Northern Ireland.
Ms Hargey said: “It is clear from our consultation that people are content for some of the existing legal constraints on gambling to be relaxed. But they also believe that government, the gambling industry and others need to do much more to prevent, control and combat problem gambling. The pragmatic approach I am taking will mean that we deliver some much-needed change in the short term, while simultaneously ensuring that complex areas of regulation and online gambling are given the time and consideration they need.”
Speaking to businesslive, Matthew Howse, Partner at law firm Eversheds Sutherland in Belfast, added: “This undoubtedly marks a general shift in attitudes towards gambling here, as does the support for sports bookmakers and betting shops to open and operate on a Sunday. For years, those with an interest have been freely able to visit ‘online’ casinos despite not being able to visit one in person.This change, if enacted, could however, see the swift opening of the very first casino in Belfast or another location, with various perceived benefits to the wider economy.”
Rank, one of Britain’s biggest casino operators with its Grosvenor brand, looked at opening a Belfast casino almost ten years ago.