Northern Ireland Eyes First Casino

Casinos are found all over the UK. But somehow Northern Ireland has missed out on the party. This could soon change, though, with the Rank Group proposing to build Northern Ireland’s first casino. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the casino complex would include a theater, cinema, bowling alley, bars, and restaurants. The Rank Group has […]

Casinos are found all over the UK. But somehow Northern Ireland has missed out on the party. This could soon change, though, with the Rank Group proposing to build Northern Ireland’s first casino.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the casino complex would include a theater, cinema, bowling alley, bars, and restaurants. The Rank Group has proposed to spend £18m on the development and is awaiting approval from the Belfast City Council.

One big holdup, though, is that Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland doesn’t have any plans to legalize casino gambling. But this could change when considering that the Belfast gaming establishment would provide 250 jobs to the area.

The Rank Group is trying to sweeten the deal by creating a “prototype model” casino, which would be different than any of its other 55 UK gambling venues.

Where would the Casino be Located in Belfast?

Six casino sites has been proposed in Belfast, including the following:

  • Crumlin Road Courthouse
  • North Foreshore
  • Royal Exchange development in the city centre
  • Great Victoria Street
  • Titanic Quarter
  • Balmoral

“It would be a leisure and entertainment campus,” said Dan Waugh, Rank Group’s strategic development adviser.

“We would aim to bring all the components of a great night out together – somewhere to eat, drink and be entertained in comfort and security.”

Belfast Casino would Have Really Low Stakes

Waugh added that maximum stakes would be £5 for casino games, including poker, roulette, and slot machines.

This is quite low, considering that most UK betting shops can let players to bet up to £100 per spin. And it’s extremely low when compared to American casinos, where many venues allow $2,000 max stakes or higher.

Casinos Still Illegal in Northern Ireland

The laws will need to change before The Rank Group’s proposal can come to fruition. And as mentioned before, Minister McCausland doesn’t have plans to lift the gambling ban before the Assembly next year.

Nevertheless, Waugh holds out hope that something will change between now and then.

“Belfast is the only major city in the United Kingdom that doesn’t even have the choice whether to licence that sort of development,” said Waugh.

“We are not saying ‘Belfast must have a casino’. We are saying that Belfast should have the right to choose whether to have a casino or not.

“Given that we’re talking about fairly significant job creation and fairly significant investment, it would seem that it is beneficial for Belfast City Council to have the right to have the flexibility to choose whether to licence this.”

 

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