Sunday Gambling ban
The U.K government has announced that it may allow bookmakers and bingo halls in Northern Ireland to open on Sundays and has given members of the public and any interested parties 14 weeks to respond. If the change was to go ahead, it is likely to be introduced in 2008.
Northern Ireland is currently the only place in the U.K where gambling premises have to close.
The change follows a campaign from bookmakers, who have battled hard with the government to be allowed to open their shops. Back in November, a race at Down Royal racecourse in County Down was named after their campaign.
Spokesman for the campaign, Adrian Eastwood, said at the time:
“Betting takes place whether people like it or not," he said.
“People who like to have a bet every day in the week still want to have a bet on a Sunday. You can't stop that desire if they want a bet and they fancy a horse or a football team. But they must be allowed to do it through licensed bookmakers.”
The proposed changes will see bookmakers allowed to be open between 1030 GMT and 1830 GMT, whilst bingo clubs can open between 1400 GMT and 2300 GMT. There will also be employment rights implemented to protect any employees who do not want to work on a Sunday.
However, the proposal could be swiftly rejected if the Stormont assembly (made up of the House of Commons and the Senate of Northern Ireland) is to be re-established. It is currently in a period of suspension.
Minister for Social Development David Hanson MP stressed that the “changes are only proposals at this stage” and wants to encourage debate on the subject.
“I wish to ensure that all those interested will have an opportunity to comment and I encourage them to do so,” Mr Hanson said.
“I am inviting comments from a wide spectrum of opinion to ensure any decisions taken are well-informed on all of the issues highlighted in the consultation period.”
Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2006-12-19 12:27:06