Northern Ireland set to introduce gambling reform bill

Lawmakers in Northern Ireland are considering the first major reforms to their country’s gambling laws in the three and half decades. The update to the legal framework regulating operators, both online and land-based, includes a series of reforms including allowing bookmakers to open on Sundays and making gambling contracts enforceable by law. These are major changes that will very likely influence how gambling laws are re-written in other countries, such as the UK.

In a statement reported on by the BBC, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said that the proposed changes were long overdue, and he’s probably right. Operators in Northern Ireland, and many other countries in that part of the world, are working under a legal framework that was created well before the dawn of mobile gambling, and even before the first internet casinos were introduced.

“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,” he said.

Some of the proposed changes that lawmakers are discussing include allowing bookmakers and bingo halls to stay open both on Saturdays and Good Friday. Other aspects of proposed change such as creating new offenses for licensees who allow children to play on gambling machines, and making gambling contracts enforceable by law will likely be included in the package.

Due to the complexity of gambling law and the challenges involved in implementing them that the new rules would be phased in over time.

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