In Northern Ireland and a local government poll has reportedly found ‘strong support’ for the establishment of an independent gambling regulator in addition to considerable backing for a proposal that would see land-based casinos legalized.
According to a Thursday report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the survey carried out by the devolved Department for Communities between December and February heard from 382 people with some 90% of these expressing their support for the creation of a provincial authority to regulate all forms of gambling.
Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, land-based casinos are prohibited in Northern Ireland although the broadcaster reported that three-fifths of the consultation’s respondents expressed a desire that this anomaly be changed while a further two-thirds voiced their support for allowing local retail sportsbetting shops to open on Sundays.
However, the BBC moreover reported that 97% of those who had taken part in the study, which heard from individuals as well as organizations in the province of some 1.9 million people, agreed that the industry must be made to contribute towards the running of local research, treatment and educational programs that would tackle issues surrounding problem gambling.
The surprising results of the enquiry were revealed by Northern Ireland Assembly civil servant Michael McAvera on Wednesday with the broadcaster furthermore detailing that Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is now expected to make an announcement concerning the next steps of the process in the ‘coming weeks.’
The BBC reported that there has long been an attitude of antipathy among legislators in Northern Ireland towards the legalization of casinos with former Democratic Unionist Party big-wig Nelson McCausland even proclaiming in 2014 that he would not approve any plan to bring such a venue to Belfast. Jonathan Buckley from the Northern Ireland Assembly purportedly seems to be among these nay-sayers after declaring that an expansion of gambling ‘is going to cause more harm’ in the province and that the local government should instead be concentrating on addressing these ills.