Bookmakers claim Northern Ireland has major problem with illegal casinos

By Peter Lynch

Two of Northern Ireland’s leading bookmakers claim that illegal casinos are a major issue in the country, as reported by the BBC.

Bookmaker’s Gary Toal and Paul McLean were giving evidence to the assembly’s Communities Committee in Stormont, saying that in some cases legal bingo and gaming venues are converted into illegal venues at night.

The committee heard that such illegal venues have the opportunity to place much higher stakes than the legal venues.

The pair have also asked for betting shops to be allowed to open on Sunday, saying that the sector carries on illegally anyway in pubs and clubs on that day. Speaking on that specific issue, Toal said he would not force any member of staff to work on a Sunday if they didn’t want to, while McLean said that people are allowed to bet on their phones in venues such as churches on a Sunday, but not in a licensed betting shop.

Bookmakers in the country are currently scrutinising the Betting Gaming Lotteries and Amusements Bill, the first major change to the country’s gambling laws in 35 years.

Allowing bookmakers to open on Sundays and Good Friday is one such area that is being explored in new legislation, while it will also become an offence to allow children to play gaming machines.

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