NI Poll Gains Support For Independent Gambling Regulator

In addition to substantial backing for a measure that would see land-based casinos legalised, Northern Ireland and a local government poll have recently found ‘significant support’ for the creation of an independent gambling regulator.

According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC) on Thursday, a survey carried out between December and February by the devolved Department for Communities heard from 382 individuals, some 90 percent of whom expressed their support for the formation of a regional authority to control all types of gambling.

Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, land-based casinos in Northern Ireland are forbidden, although the broadcaster announced that three-fifths of respondents to the consultation expressed a willingness to change this anomaly, while another two-thirds expressed their support for the opening of local retail sports betting shops on Sundays.

In addition, however, the BBC estimated that 97 percent of those who participated in the survey, which heard from some 1.9 million individuals as well as organisations in the province, agreed that the industry would contribute to the running of local research, treatment and educational initiatives that would resolve problems related to gambling.

The enquiry ‘s unexpected findings were announced by Northern Ireland Assembly civil servant Michael McAvera on Wednesday with the broadcaster further outlining that Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is now expected to announce the next steps of the procedure in the ‘coming weeks.’

The BBC reported a long-standing attitude of antipathy among lawmakers in Northern Ireland towards legalising casinos, with former Democratic Unionist Party big-wig Nelson McCausland also saying in 2014 that he would not support any proposals to bring such a venue to Belfast. Jonathan Buckley from the Northern Ireland Assembly seems to be among those nay-sayers after announcing that an expansion of gambling ‘would do more harm’ in the province, and that the local government should instead concentrate on fixing these ills.