Are bookmakers open in Northern Ireland on Good Friday?

It was a year of significant change in terms of Easter opening in Northern Ireland.

Licensed establishments are now allowed to operate as if it were a normal weekend, after being limited in the hours they were allowed to sell alcohol.

It was part of the biggest licensing reform the industry had seen in many years, and music to the ears of those in the hospitality industry.

Read more: NI schools strike: Teachers union leader calls for pay dispute resolution as schools face post-Easter strike

Another industry that has been the subject of new legislation passing through the NI Assembly is the gaming industry.

Are Northern Ireland bookmakers now allowed to open on Good Friday? And what about the other days of the Easter period?

The short answer is no – bookmakers are still not allowed to open their premises here on Good Friday.

While gambling reform legislation has made its way through Stormont in recent months, including opening Good Friday and Sunday, it has yet to pass with the Assembly now disbanded.

So while local bookmakers will still be allowed to operate through any online or remote betting service they have, their stores in Northern Ireland will remain closed on Good Friday.

The same goes for Easter Sunday, as it does for all other Sundays of the year.

Bookmakers will however be allowed to open normally on Easter Saturday.

Paul McLean of McLean Bookmakers told Belfast Live that this should be the last year bookmakers have to close on Good Friday.

“Betting shops in Northern Ireland remain closed on Good Friday, although this may be the last Good Friday they will be closed,” Paul said.

“NI is the only part of the UK and Ireland where shops remain closed by law.

“This forced closure does not stop gambling on Good Friday, it only directs betting online, or to illegal operators, resulting in loss of jobs, taxes and regulations.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey presented the gambling reforms to the Assembly earlier this year.

The minister introduced the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill as the first phase of broader reform, saying the bill should be seen as the start of reform, and not like the end.

“Overhauling our gambling laws is something I believe is very important and I was determined to make changes during my time as Communities Minister,” said Minister Hargey.

“This bill proposes the first substantive changes to gambling law here in almost 40 years and I am glad I was able to bring it to this point.”

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