Will Northern Ireland Get Its First Casino?
Sep 19, 2014
The Rank Group put forward proposals for the first casino in the country, an idea only slightly hampered by casinos being illegal.
With the economic situation still less than stable the green shoots of recovery are often stamped upon by the somewhat overly cautious nature of the knee-jerk political response to any new or radical proposal to improve the situation. Politicians don’t like risks, too many of them have ended up pariahs, social outcasts or as inmates for them to be cavalier with their decisions and public statements. However in the case of Mr. Nelson McCausland, Social Development Minister of Northern Ireland he did not so much stamp as trample all over them.
Illegal Casino Proposal Put Forward
• Rank Group outlines plan for Belfast
• Law would need to be changed
• Blackjack history could be made
“He has no plans to legalize casinos” said a spokesman for the man himself, which is a bit of a shame considering the Rank Group, one of the largest entertainment companies in Europe, has just unveiled somewhat ambitious plans to open one in the region. The modest development, barely 18 million pounds worth, would create 250 jobs in the area and would use unique even to the rest of the 55 casinos Rank runs across the UK already, but that may be moot given the current legal position.
Rank outlined the plan to Belfast City Council with their strategic development adviser, Dan Waugh saying “Belfast is the only major city in the United Kingdom that doesn’t even have the choice whether to license that sort of development.” which might tempt the city to pursue a casino strategy as the gambling legislation comes up for reconsideration before the national assembly next year. However the Department of Social Development would still need to be “on-side” for the development to go ahead however Belfast city council votes on the proposal, and they’re not.
Smart strategies are needed in the region to help rebuild an economy shattered by the recent banking and financial crisis but some residents are reticent about having a casino in the area. Waugh counters this by pointing out there would be a maximum stake at the tables of merely 5 pounds, a 20th of that in betting shops, and their facility would include a bowling alley, theater, restaurants and cinema screens along with coffee shops and bars to provide entertainment for all. In the end it’ll be public reaction to the plan that will influence the future as their vocal consent will be needed to influence politicians into changing the law and allowing this ambitious project to move forward.