Major Changes Coming to Northern Ireland’s Gambling Industry


Last week Northern Ireland’s Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced that nation is now actively pursuing some major changes to its gambling industry. As far as gambling regulation and laws are concerned, the nation’s gambling sector has largely remained the same for decades but now it seems that it is finally time for some much-needed changes to at least bring the industry up to speed with the other parts of the UK.

“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,” Hargey pointed out.

The plans to overhaul gambling regulation in the nation were backed by a 2019 public consultation on gambling laws. This was conducted by the Department of Communities which found that there was overwhelming support for the introduction of changes to the industry.

The Actual Changes

A major overhaul is, of course, the main point of focus for the country but it will all start with some additions including the formation of a gaming regulatory agency. It is almost impossible to believe that the nation has had a gambling industry without a regulatory body all this while. The gambling regulator will be tasked with overseeing all the aspects of gambling in Northern Ireland. As it stands, gambling operations such as betting shops in the nation are monitored only by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Another major change that is will be part of the overhaul will be the update of the gaming code. Lawmakers will be responsible for that and some of the main things that they will be looking into will be setting new penalties for regulatory violations.

Hargey also pointed out that there are some restrictions laid out by the Northern Ireland Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order of 1985 that will be relaxed as part of the overhaul. Also worth noting is that, while the overhaul will begin with a focus on land-based gaming, the second phase will be all about online gambling.

The second phase is set to cover even more areas and be more in-depth which will give online gambling the consideration it deserves. Needless to say, online gambling is a very profitable sector and Northern Ireland stands to gain a lot by bringing more conducive regulations into the fold. Still, it will take quite a bit of time as the gaming regulatory changes are headed to the assembly for consideration in the coming weeks.

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