Northern Ireland betting shops and bingo halls granted Sunday opening
Betting shops and bingo halls in Northern Ireland can now open on a Sunday, following the introduction of new gambling laws in the country, as reported by BBC News.
The legislation also means that such venues can open on Good Friday from 2023, bringing Northern Ireland’s gambling laws into line with the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The NI Turf Guardians’ Association (NITGA), which represents the majority of betting shops in Northern Ireland, welcomed the change. There are currently around 300 betting shops trading in the country, employing around 1,500 staff.
The legislation is considered the biggest change to Northern Ireland’s gambling laws in almost 40 years, with the previous laws – contained in the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order – dating back to 1985.
As noted by NITGA, the change will help address a “longstanding anomaly whereby customers were able to place bets online, on a racecourse, or at a bookmaker shop across the border on Sundays but were unable to go to a bookmaker shop in Northern Ireland.
“Given that such a significant number of sporting events take place on a Sunday, demand had to be met elsewhere, including through illegal betting in pubs and clubs.”
The organisation wasn’t, however, expecting such a quick turnaround from the government, with a NITGA Spokesperson saying: “The timing of the law coming into force is earlier than anticipated and it had been expected this would not take place until mid to late May.”
The Department for Communities confirmed the legislation had been given Royal Assent, having passed through the Stormont Assembly in early March.