Northern Ireland to Reform Gambling Laws


Northern Ireland is gearing up to introduce changes to its gambling laws for the first time in more than three decades. A recent announcement by the Minister for Communities within the Northern Ireland Executive, Deirdre Hargey, reveals that the plan involves tangible modifications.           

Among the proposed changes are penalties for regulatory violations in relation to allowing minors to play gaming machines. Meanwhile, the definition of cheating will be expanded to include any attempts to cheat, and gambling contracts will be legally binding. 

On the other hand, betting shops will be allowed to stay open on Sundays and Good Friday. This is good news for a lot of betting shop owners who have been requesting these changes in recent years since a lot of major sporting events are played on Sundays.

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

Gambling in Northern Ireland is currently regulated by Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order of 1985. But in addition to being outdated, the Order is widely considered to be far too complex.   

With the announced overhaul, online PayPal betting sites will finally be properly regulated in the UK territory. Online casinos will also be covered by this overhaul, leveling the playing field. The legislation is expected to be introduced at the Northern Ireland Assembly in the coming weeks.