January 10, 2013 : NORTHERN IRELAND TO REVISIT GAMBLING LAWS
But casino ban will remain
In a statement Thursday, Northern Ireland's Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland revealed that the country's antiquated gambling laws are to be revamped with emphasis on protecting the young and vulnerable, and on compliance with EU law.
"It is necessary to update the current gambling laws in order to address the rapidly changing gambling environment that exists today; changes are also required to ensure that our law complies with relevant EU provisions," the Minister said.
The government commissioned a public consultation in 2011, leading to proposals for change. The legalization to do this is set to be drafted and placed before Stormont MLAs ahead of the next assembly election.
"My priority is to minimise the harmful effects of gambling; the new law will be underpinned by objectives aimed at keeping crime out of gambling, ensuring fairness within the gambling industry and protecting the young and vulnerable," the Minister said.
The new law will include the following:
* A dedicated section dealing with the protection of children and young people;
* Residents of Northern Ireland will be able to participate in promotional prize draws; but the ban on casinos will remain;
* Gaming machine categories and standards currently used in Great Britain will be adopted;
* Some restrictions on advertising will be lifted;
* Bets placed in a bookmakers office will be legally binding contracts;
* It will become an offence to allow anyone under 18 years old to gamble on a gaming machine in Northern Ireland;
* The industry will be required to contribute to public initiatives aimed at fighting gambling addiction;
* There are no plans at present to change the law with respect to Sunday opening of bookmakers offices or bingo clubs.