Northern Ireland gaming industry set for major overhaul


Posted on: Jun 1, 2021, 2:13 p.m.

Last update on: June 1, 2021, 02:15 p.m.

Authorities in Northern Ireland are set to dramatically change the UK gaming industry.

Regulation of the gaming industry in Northern Ireland
A Sean Graham betting shop. Changes in gambling regulations are coming soon to Northern Ireland. (Image: Shutterstock)

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced last week that the country is moving forward with updating its gambling laws and regulations. Not much has changed in the industry since sports betting, lotteries and fixed odds betting terminals were legalized by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Entertainment Ordinance 1985. ‘North Ireland.

Gambling legislation has remained largely unchanged since it was enacted 35 years ago, ”Hargey said. “As a result, the regulation of gambling here has not kept pace with the industry and technological change. In my opinion, the change is long overdue.

A 2019 public consultation on gambling laws conducted by the Department for Communities found “strong support” for an industry overhaul. And it should start with the formation of a gaming regulatory agency.

Game changes

Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the country has its own rules and regulations on gambling. The rest of the UK has significantly expanded gambling through the 2005 Gambling Act, but Northern Ireland has not ratified the UK law.

According to Hargey, the first phase of adjusting gambling laws will include the formation of a gambling commission which will oversee all aspects of gambling in Northern Ireland. Lawmakers and the commission will be responsible for updating the gaming code, including setting new penalties for regulatory violations. The gaming commission is expected to have an enforcement division that will have the power to take enforcement action against licensees found to be non-compliant.

Currently, betting shops are only monitored by the Northern Ireland Police Service.

Hargey adds that some restrictions in the 1985 law will be relaxed, including a ban on betting shops operating on Sundays. Bookies have long argued that the Sunday shutdown, the day when many top sporting events take place, feeds players to unregulated channels.

“There are so many major sporting events that take place on a Sunday, from Wimbledon finals to Premier League football. It pushed people online because you couldn’t bet in a betting shop, ”said Brian Graham of Sean Graham, one of the nation’s leading bookmakers.

“We and other bookies have been screaming against the illegal gambling happening in Northern Ireland,” Graham added.

Online Game Phase 2

Hargey says the first phase of gaming reform will focus on land betting. The second will concern Internet gambling and will be much more in-depth.

The Northern Ireland Gaming Act 1985 does not deal with online gambling and therefore it is not necessarily illegal.

The pragmatic approach I take means that we will make much-needed changes in the short term, while simultaneously ensuring that the complex areas of regulation and online gambling are given the time and consideration they need, ”he said. she declared.

The second phase will bring internet sports betting and betting sites under the legal jurisdiction of Northern Ireland. This is something Graham welcomes.

“This will help level the playing field,” he explained. “This is all good news for us.”

Hargey said at his press conference last week that the regulatory changes for the games would be presented to the assembly in the coming weeks.

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