Will Belfast get its first casino in Northern Ireland?
The Rank Group, the UK casino operator running 55 British casinos, offered a great venture to open the casino in Belfast with 400 new jobs, which is twice more than it was first promised.
The Group is carrying on negotiations with city councillors about the necessity of changes in the gambling law, as casinos are banned here.
The councillors are still hesitating, but Mervyn Storey, Social Development Minister of the DUP, opposes to it resolutely.
The meeting took place on Tuesday and the Rank Group gave more details as to the first casino in Northern Ireland and discussed the anxiety as to gambling addiction. Non-executive director of the Rank, Richard Needham, explained that the situation on the gambling market in Northern Ireland is “chaotic” as there are numerous illegal institutions and slot terminals where people lose thousands and thousands. The best way to control this is to create a legal gambling establishment. This will also help to fight the problem of gambling addiction, as the Group promises to give £80,000 per year to the charity organization Dunleway Addiction Services.
The Rank Organization hasn’t found the place for their complex yet, but are looking somewhere in the centre and Titanic Quarter.
Tom Ekin, Alliance councilor, supported the plan of the leisure centre in general if everything will be properly organized and designed. So the Group hopes that he will help to obtain special dispensation.
But Mervyn Storey is going to propose new legislation on gambling to maintain the ban on the casinos next year.