Northern Ireland gambling laws to be reformed in 2021

Northern Ireland will introduce the first significant changes to gambling laws in 35 years. One of the few changes to the gambling laws will be to allow bookmakers to open on Sundays and Good Friday, while it will also be an offence for children to play gaming machines.

Deidre Hargey, who is the Communities Minister, said that these reforms were long overdue and that the legislation is supposed to be introduced in the Assembly in the next few weeks.

The last time the Department for Communities proposed some changes to the gambling laws was in 2019. It received strong support from the public for the creation of an independent gambling regulator. Northern Ireland does not have a gambling regulator, unlike Great Britain, which has the Gambling Commission.

Some of the other changes included in the legislation are:

  • Create powers to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators
  • Establish a mandatory code of practice for those holding gambling licenses
  • Broaden the definition of cheating to include attempted cheating
  • Make gambling contracts enforceable in law
  • Remove some of the restrictions on promotional prize competitions

These new gambling laws are mostly for the casinos, as there are around 156 operating casinos across the UK.

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