New legislation has reportedly come into force in Northern Ireland that allows local sportsbooks and bingo halls to stay open for longer and begin offering their services to punters on Sundays.
According to a Sunday report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the move is being seen as the biggest shake-up to the province’s laws on gambling for almost 40 years by bringing these into line with those already governing such operations in the rest of the United Kingdom and the neighboring Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland is one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom while its bingo halls and sportsbooks had reportedly been required to operate under regulations laid out in the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Northern Ireland Order, which dates back to 1985. However, the territory’s Department for Communities purportedly confirmed over the weekend that the new opening rules were given Royal Assent on Wednesday after having been sanctioned by the 90-seat Northern Ireland Assembly in March.
The representative body for retail bookmakers in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association, reportedly described the Sunday opening alteration as ‘a positive development’ as it had not expected the change to come into force until later in the spring. The organization purportedly disclosed that the rapid implementation of the new regulations is now destined to spur a hiring spree as sportsbetting firms start employing staff to work over the traditional day of rest.
Reportedly read a statement from the Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association…
“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. Preparation is now under way for Sunday opening, which is expected to lead to the creation of up to 250 part-time jobs.”
Home to approximately 1.9 million people, Northern Ireland reportedly has a complement of about 300 sportsbooks that employ roughly 1,500 members of staff. The BBC purportedly explained that the new rules will moreover allow these venues to open on the traditional Good Friday public bank holiday.
The Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association reportedly told the broadcaster that the revised opening rules will furthermore address ‘a longstanding anomaly’ that had prevented punters from ‘going to a bookmaker shop in Northern Ireland’ on a Sunday while online and bookmakers in the Republic of Ireland were allowed to be open.
The statement from the Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association reportedly read…
“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.”