If you are from Belfast and you like to play an occasional casino game now and then, then you know that gambling is one of the most-talked-about topics in the political circles right now. It certainly is a topic that has brought to light many different opinions of the gambling industry in Northern Ireland.
Being a gambler in Northern Ireland means having a different status than in any other part of the UK. Simply because the law is different. What is more, the local government is pretty strict about updating the already outdated law, which makes the entire situation that much harder for gamblers in Belfast.
The overall public efforts to change the gambling law has proven that there’s a great interest for both land-based and online gambling among the people of Northern Ireland. In this article, we’ll dig some more into this topic and explore what the future might bring for Belfast gamblers.
The Main Issue
At the moment, all land-based gambling in Northern Ireland falls under one law from 1985, called Betting, Gaming, Lotteries & Amusements Order. According to the Order, only amusement arcades, lotteries, and bookmakers are allowed. What is more, each wager is considered as “an agreement between gentlemen”, making it unenforceable by the courts.
As for the brick-and-mortar casinos, they are completely illegal. And as you can see, it’s only because of the outdated law. This means that the people living in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland have to travel elsewhere to visit a land-based casino. There was an attempt to overhaul this law in 2011. Even though there had been many complaints of the law being in desperate need of modernisation made by over 40 organisations, nothing has been done concerning this matter.
Small Steps In The Right Direction
Due to the efforts of organisations like the Rank Group, there has been some progress when it comes to legalizing casinos in Belfast. The above-mentioned group along with one other operator agreed to invest as much as 200 million pounds for the development of the casino industry in Belfast.
This suggestion was made by the Rank Group in 2014, and it has taken four years for the Belfast City Council to come to an agreement that this offer should be presented to the Department for Communities. Only after this presentation will they come to a conclusion whether or not the law should be altered.
Although Belfast is the only capital in the UK that doesn’t allow casinos, this doesn’t seem to bother the governing bodies. However, the promise of a hotel as well as an entertainment complex, which would create more than 1,000 jobs and attract even more tourists, seem to have sparked their interest.
Can People From Belfast Play Casino Games Online?
Luckily, people from Belfast can enjoy any game they’d like in any online casino, as far as it’s based outside of Northern Ireland. The only way in which people from Belfast would be in danger of breaking the law would be if they played with an operator from Northern Ireland that doesn’t have a licence. So, even though they can’t have a land-based venue at the moment, they are in all liberty to play a game of poker or slots with any foreign operator. Therefore, any gambler from Belfast could enjoy 30 free spins no deposit required keep what you win offers and stay within the borders of the current law. Furthermore, they can play a game of Blackjack, Roulette, or Craps whenever they like. And so far, the local gamblers seem to be thrilled with this virtual version of their favourite pastime.
Are People From Belfast Even Interested in Gambling?
After the public pressure to change the existing law, the Department for Communities made a survey about the gambling habits and the number of gamblers in Northern Ireland. The survey found that 62,7% of people in this country gamble, and 33,3% said they considered it as a pastime activity.
As for the amount they spend in seven days time, it ranges from £5 to £47. When compared to the survey done in 2010, the number of those who gamble has dropped significantly, as well as the numbers of those who gamble regularly. This means that there is no threat for the residents of Northern Ireland of becoming addicted to gambling.
No one can tell whether the law concerning land-based casinos in Northern Ireland will change. For now, Belfast gamblers are enjoying the online casinos and the possibility of playing their favourite casino games wherever and whenever. The fact that legalizing casinos could boost the economy can be a positive encouragement for local governments that have so far worked towards suppressing rather than encouraging gambling activities
Leslie Alexander is the experienced Content Lead at Gamblizard as well as a passionate writer of the iGaming industry. Leslie likes to be up to date all major events from the gambling and sports betting world. She then turns those events into informative articles on a daily basis. Leslie spends all of her free time reading books or playing her favourite online casino games.