Stake Casino: Northern Irish reform pushing ‘largest conglomerates’ southward

Stake.com’s igaming brand Stake Casino is evaluating its prospects in the Republic of Ireland, citing upcoming changes to Northern Irish gambling legislation. 

The firm stated that the push for reform in Northern Ireland has led to ‘a number of the largest casino, gambling and betting conglomerates to look southward to Ireland as their next business venture’.

A crypto gaming provider, Stake Casino describes itself as ‘unique among its competitors’ across Ireland due to offering a range of sports betting options in addition to its online casino. 

Although acknowledging that the Irish market is small in comparison to the UK, Stake asserted: “The introduction of a number of new online casinos to Ireland will not only provide Irish gamblers with more selection and choice but will also encourage the domestic online casinos to improve their product offerings and start introducing newer and better games to their platform.”

Active in Northern Ireland under a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) licence, Stake observed that clauses to gambling legislation in the latter could ‘radically change’ the industry in the region.

The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey, entered the Consideration phase of Northern Ireland’s parliament in February. 

Implemented with the goal of updating regional betting oversight for the first time in 35 years, the Bill would see amendments to established Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Commenting on the passage of the Bill through the consideration stage, Paula Bradley MLA, Chair of the Northern Irish Assembly’s Committee for Communities, stated that reformers would have preferred a ‘full and modern replacement of the 1985 Order’ but still welcomed the updates.

The DUP legislator added: “The Committee realises that there is much to learn from the ongoing reviews into gambling in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, the outcomes of which are likely to have an impact on our regulations here. In that context, while not ideal, this Bill is an important and necessary starting point.”

For Stake, the fact that the bill creates the power to impose a statutory levy on gambling operators and issues  a mandatory Code of Practice for firms ‘suggest that the industry will be much more heavily regulated’ upon passage of the legislation. 

Additional clauses of the legislation include introducing a broadening of the definition of cheating, and it will be made an offence to allow children to play gaming machines. 

Bookmakers and bingo clubs will also be allowed to open on Sundays and Good Friday, whilst most significantly in Stake’s view, gambling contracts will be enforceable by law and some restrictions on promotional prize competitions will be removed. 

Lastly, the Bill will remove the £1 price limit on the sale of Northern Irish lottery tickets and increase the limit to £100, whilst also establishing a flat 20% limit on lottery proceeds that can be appropriated for expenses.

Stake’s statement continued: “It is interesting that Northern Ireland is moving to further regulate gambling and betting at a time when states and countries around the world are loosening restrictions and rethinking their statutory approaches to gambling and betting. 

“The United States was famously opposed to gambling and only a handful of states or reservations allowed gambling across the country. 

“However, over the course of the last few years, many states have turned to gambling as a new way to generate tax revenue to fund infrastructure, public health and public education efforts.”

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