The social development minister has begun a public consultation on allowing bookmakers to open on Sundays.
It is part of wider legislation on gambling which Alex Attwood has said will strengthen regulations while easing industry restrictions.
He added that one in 50 people have a gambling problem, four times higher than in the rest of the UK.
He said he wanted a levy to fund research into gambling's adverse effects as well as a single regulator.
Currently, the courts, district councils and the PSNI share responsibility for regulating the industry.
This could be replaced with a single licensing body with new powers to impose penalties on gambling operators for breaches of licensing conditions.
Mr Attwood said his priority was striking a balance between developing gambling as a leisure pursuit and minimising its harmful effects.
"These have been the standards I have adopted in regulating other industries including the drinks industry and the shops trade," he added.