|Gamblers will soon be able to bet at Sunday race meetings in Northern Ireland for the first time. |
Northern Island Office minister Des Browne has announced his intention to relax the betting law to allow on-course Sunday betting.
Browne, who has responsibility for Social Development, said it was part of a modest package of changes bringing the local betting and gaming law more closely into line with the rest of the UK.
However, the ban on betting in bookmakers on Sundays will remain unchanged.
Browne said: 'I intend to bring forward legislation to provide a number of modest relaxations of the legislative controls on betting and gaming in Northern Ireland, including a change to allow on-course Sunday betting.
'Racing on Sunday is already allowed and I know race goers and other racing interests will welcome the opportunity of on-course Sunday betting.
'This is a limited relaxation of the law on Sunday betting and the current prohibition on Sunday betting in bookmaking offices will stay. When the law is changed, people will be able to choose whether or not they wish to go to a racetrack and bet on a Sunday.'
The minister said he hoped the legislation needed to implement the changes would eventually take the form of an assembly bill.
The announcement last Friday also confirmed a relaxation of the present restrictions on the operation of bookmaking offices, bookmaking on racetracks and retailing of football pools competitions.
Legislation governing the operation of gaming machines, registration of clubs and the advertising of bingo will also be eased.