Belfast City Council is reportedly carrying out a public consultation into whether to build a £300m casino complex in the city, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
It is also considering updating citywide licensing laws, which currently prohibit the development of casino properties. Two leading casino operators have already held discussions with political and business leaders into the construction of a hotel and casino complex, with Rank Group previously showing interest in the potential development.
Public consultation documents state: “There has been interest shown by international investors in developing an entertainment and casino complex in Belfast."
In an interview with The Telegraph, Belfast councillor Jim McVeigh said "The consultation is to gauge the opinion of the people of Belfast, and people within our tourism and hospitality sector. It's in two halves - one is around flexibility around opening hours, exploring the idea that those areas should be devolved to councils. And the other, the entertainment complex, is to gauge the mood of the people in the city.”
Referencing the development’s potential expense and impact, McVeigh added: “£300m and 1,000 jobs. That's our estimate. These guys tend to be very serious. They are very keen to get here and keen to do this. The size is huge, both financially and physically. The jobs would be very significant.”
The consultation is expected to begin on 11 December, running until 5 March 2018. However any final decision on the development rests with the Department for Communities and ultimately the Northern Ireland Assembly which has been suspended since the beginning of 2017 following the resignation of first minister Martin McGuinness.
At present, Northern Ireland is being directly governed by Westminster, under the supervision of Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.
Despite this vacuum, McVeigh remains upbeat about the chances of any development saying: "It's some way off but one thing we can say for sure - there is more than one organisation looking to do this, there are at least two looking to do this.
“They have the money. This is a real proposition. This could happen if the government and parties up on The Hill were inclined to do so."