A public consultation is reportedly being conducted by the Belfast City Council regarding the possibility of amending the capital city’s licensing laws and to measure interest in building a major casino complex there worth as much as £300m.
Unlike the Republic of Ireland or Ireland, currently, in Northern Ireland, the gambling laws do not allow for the development of casino properties in Belfast.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that discussions between political and business representatives and two leading operators have already taken place regarding the possibility of building a casino, hotel, water park, restaurant and bar.
One of the two interested parties being British land-based casino and bingo operator, The Rank Group, which is responsible for the Grosvenor Casinos chain of casinos and has reportedly shown interest in developing a £200m complex.
According to the daily newspaper, consultation documents state: “There has been interest shown by international investors in developing an entertainment and casino complex in Belfast.”
The documents reportedly follow and earlier motion by councilor Jim McVeigh, who belongs to the Sinn Féin party and who, who according to the news agency, said that developing an “entertainment and casino complex” and modernizing the licensing system would provide “stimulus and support to the tourism sector and city’s economy, with a potential investment of £150m and the creation of 900 new jobs.”
However, the Belfast Telegraph reports that in speaking with McVeigh, he said the development could create as many as 1,000 jobs and that the potential value could be £300m.
According to the report, the public consultation is slated to begin on the 11th of December and to close on the 5th of March in the New Year.
McVeigh reportedly said, “The consultation is to gauge the opinion of the people of Belfast, and people within our tourism and hospitality sector. It’s in two halves -one is around flexibility around opening hours, exploring the idea that those areas should be devolved to councils. And the other, the entertainment complex, is to gauge the mood of the people in the city.”
The councilor went on to say that the responsibility of the final decision would rest with a minister and “would require legislation.” McVeigh added that he believes the idea would be supported by the majority of his council colleagues.