While lockdown measures have been relaxed in various regions, Northern Ireland still has full lockdown measures in place.
This has resulted in a growing number of citizens taking interest in online gambling with the numbers only expected to increase.
Predictions for 2021 show that with the second lockdown in place Belfast can prepare for the second wave of increased play.
Lockdown Gameplay Increase
Since the first shutdown in March 2020, there was a large increase in bets with more than 1 million placed between Northern Ireland and the UK.
With the second lockdown enforced the number of bets placed skyrocketed once again. This despite the cancellation of sports events in 2020.
Many believed there would be a decrease in gambling as sports betting made up 75% of the UK betting market. Sport is a determining factor in the price drop for many of the gambling companies.
The lack of sports betting did not deter growth for the industry, instead, it encouraged players to switch to online casinos and explore placing bets on slot machines. According to statistics, this switch looks like it will continue straight through 2021.
William Brown from Megaways Casino revealed that with people being forced to stay in-doors it pushes them to boredom leading them to seek alternative methods of entertainment.
Brown continued, saying that the internet makes it easy to gamble online allowing visitors to access sites such as Megaways Casino no matter where they might be located.
With another lockdown in the UK and Wales, the stats have shown even more people turning towards their computers for online casino entertainment.
Outdated Laws Due for an Upgrade
Across the world, countries are focusing on increasing regulations and improving the current laws for better regulations.
In Northern Ireland there is a need for updates to the outdated laws as the country’s gambling is still regulated by the 1985 Order based on an old Great Britain law from the 1960s.
In Britain, the laws were replaced by the 2005 Gambling Act, but Northern Ireland never followed suit. Instead, it stuck to the old rules and now various prominent Northern Irish politicians are calling for a revival/change of these outdated gambling laws.
As for the UK, there has been a lot of movement in terms of regulatory changes with a current review of the 2005 Gambling Act. While the 2005 Gambling Act is professionally written and covers a wide range of aspects within the industry it is not deemed ‘fit for the digital age’.
Therefore, it is being reviewed with results expected to be published on March 31st, 2021. The review will be a broad outline of all the changes required to update the Act according to industry standards.
Safety a Priority
Apart from tighter regulations being put in place, the top priority will be to make the industry a safer place for gamblers.
Of course, there are those critics who believe tighter regulations will only lead to growth in the online gambling black market. Already there is a large influx in the number of unregulated online casinos accepting UK players.
Despite this the government will be looking into decreasing the max stake limits, win limits and add more tools to enhance the safety of the gaming environment for avid players.
The objective is to get the industry up to speed with the digital landscape instead of continuing to follow outdated rules and regulations.
There is hope that Northern Ireland officials will take note of warnings and follow UK footsteps in giving a much-needed upgrade/reboot to the current regulations.