Northern Ireland residents claim that if the findings of a recent survey are anything to go by, the existing gambling laws of the country should be changed to allow land-based casinos, restrict online gambling, and allow Sunday betting.
The Department for Communities (DfC) of Northern Ireland conducted a public consultation on gambling legislation in December 2019 and released the results of the consultation earlier this week.
The consultation was performed online and 382 individuals and organisations offered responses. In other words, it can not really be said that the survey findings really reflect what the public wants when it comes to gambling in Northern Ireland ‘s territory.
Around 63 percent of the people and organisations that responded to the DfC ‘s call for opinions said they agree that the current gambling law of the country should be changed to allow brick-and – mortar casinos. The respondents who shared their opinion in a personal capacity were more likely than those answering on behalf of an association (70 percent to 30 percent) to endorse land-based casinos.
Similarly, 60 percent of all respondents said they want to remove laws banning playing poker, bingo and other “equal opportunity” games in pubs and clubs.
Around 54 percent of the respondents said they agree that online gambling licencing and regulatory steps unique to Northern Ireland should be implemented. The existing gambling legislation in the country does not really provide a mechanism that prohibits online gambling for citizens, which may be an explanation for the less enthusiastic support for a new online gambling regulatory system.
Nearly two-thirds of all respondents (around 66 percent) said they agree that Northern Ireland should loosen the opening hours of betting shops across the country. Around 60 percent said they support opening on Good Friday, but just 14 percent said they favour betting on Christmas. Nearly all respondents supported opening betting shops on Sundays.
The results of the survey indicate broad support for the creation in Northern Ireland of a new regulator. Around 93 percent of all respondents said they agree that the local gaming and sports betting industry should be established and charged with overseeing a new regulatory body.
Respondents also agreed almost unanimously (97 percent) that the gambling industry in Northern Ireland should help finance problem gamblers’ research, education, and care.
And more than two-thirds (around 68 percent) of all respondents agreed that the country should change its regulatory structure for gambling in a way that removes the maximum £ 1 stake limit on social lotteries.
Respondents were also asked to state their views on advertisement laws for gambling. Retail betting advertisements are currently restricted to “hard copy” but other types are forbidden, including broadcasting. Advertising for gaming services, except bingo and gaming machines in arcades, is also forbidden.
Northern Ireland should align its gambling advertising laws with Great Britain, where they are more relaxed, about 52 percent of all respondents said, 27 percent said more restrictions should be imposed, while 4 percent said the existing restrictions should be eased. Just 17 percent of respondents said that the new rules on gambling ads are still suitable and appropriate.