Casinos in Ireland
What’s going on over there ? Well, there’s been a bit of news recently about a casino in Northern Ireland, driven by a proposal from the UK’s biggest operator, Rank, for a big site in Belfast. I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand the law over there, but certainly at the moment casinos aren’t legal, and it’s no surprise that Rank are looking to change matters.
As always in these new territories, the local government are rightly concerned about problem gambling issues, and most seem to be making the right noises about assessing things as they develop, rather than going overly knee-jerk and ditching the whole idea out of hand. With no (legal) casino provision at all at the moment, there’ll be some understandable nervousness about how they operate and what goes on, and you can bet Rank are hoping to get some of the politicians over to their English sites to see how “normal” they are.
Standard practise in these situations is to underline the relatively low levels of spend per visit in provincial casinos (somewhere around £30) and to normalise the whole experience by pointing out it’s just another leisure experience. Highlighting all the control measures in place also helps, and no doubt encouraging everyone concerned to think about the dangers of online gambling – with the perceived lack of control – compared to a building full of experienced managers and procedures will be part of the plan. I wish them good luck, a well controlled casino environment – and no-one could argue Rank won’t provide that, given they still operate membership in the UK – is nothing to be frightened of, and Rank are generally recognised as a good egg.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is a different matter. South of the border, currently casinos are not exactly illegal, but not exactly legal either – as private members clubs, what goes on inside isn’t quite regulated in the same way. Legal change is coming, but that’s been true for about 20 years, and there’s nothing concrete on the books yet. There are great sites to be found – one of the best known is the Fitzwilliam card club and casino – and you couldn’t say it’s not a lovely environment to play in.
Strictly speaking slots aren’t legal in Irish casino / members clubs, although you see them sometimes in the less well known sites. As usual, any law to regulate casino gambling in the Republic will only be as useful as the will to enforce it, but rest assured if there ever is the chance to operate casinos on a large-ish scale (not currently envisaged in the law as it appears now) then the UK operators will be all over the opportunity.