The Republic of Ireland is a country which has an illustrious history with gambling, particularly when it comes to horse racing. However, it is also a country which has a firmly established, legalized online gambling industry, and isn’t too restrictive when it comes to what its residents and citizens bet on. The small island nation’s population can seemingly gamble on anything and everything they wish, within reason. To explain that further, we need to dive into the legality of betting and gambling in the Emerald Isle. With that in mind, let’s begin…
An Overview of Gambling in Ireland
Ireland has long been known for being home to a large gambling population. The Irish gambling laws have undergone several changes over the years as the country tried to regulate the market, and ensure that most forms of gambling were as open as they always have been. This might seem like an enormous task, but the Republic of Ireland appears to have managed it with ease.
The most recent gambling laws in Ireland stem back to 2013 when the Gambling Control Bill was introduced. This effectively formed a licensing authority which oversees both the land-based betting world and the digital one. Older gambling bills such as the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 are still in effect to some degree but should be overhauled and updated with a new gambling act which is set to be unveiled in 2020.
In 2019, that act was amended to include lottery regulations. These – alongside the National Lottery Act of 2013 – aim to ensure that lottery betting is kept separate from other forms of gambling laws.
Operators who wish to run gambling operations in Ireland are required to obtain a license from the Revenue Commissioners and the Regulator of the National Lottery. Before this, the country deemed Gibraltar, Malta and UK-issued gambling licenses to be the norm.
A Note on Ireland’s Gambling Games
Oddly enough, while sports betting and lottery games have long been legal and accepted in Ireland, it is only recently that casino games are starting to be tolerated. For many years, Irish punters frequented offshore casinos to play casino games, as they were not strictly allowed under Irish gambling laws. As mentioned, the recent amendments and new legislation which has passed will allow the Republic of Ireland to legalise those games, albeit under certain conditions, such as having an Irish issued gambling license.
The lack of legality concerning casino games has never really troubled players in the past. In fact, Ireland’s casino players have had a more than enough way of dealing with this issue. Like most players across the world who haven’t been able to play specific gambling games legally, Irish players visited offshore casinos.
Offshore casinos are foreign internet betting sites which are licensed and based outside of Ireland. For instance, many of these domains are licensed in the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Malta, as mentioned earlier. These domains do carry a wealth of online casino games and have been ideal for Irish players to sign up to.
To date, the Irish Government has not issued a blacklist of authorised ISPs (internet service providers) to ban access to foreign casinos. Nor are Irish players punished for visiting these foreign casinos. While many casino players in Ireland currently continue to play casino games at these remote casino domains, it is thought that the new gambling laws which are set to come in this year will put a stop to large parts of that. After all, casino games will theoretically be legal at any casino which has obtained an Irish gambling license.
Ireland’s Most Played Casino Games
The Irish aren’t too fussy about what they play. They have a love of many different types of gambling games. With that in mind, it is worth exploring some of these options in closer detail. Any site proclaiming itself as one of the best casinos for players in Ireland will need to carry the following games:
Slots: Slots are one of the few games which until very recently, weren’t really permitted in Ireland. That only made them even more in demand amongst the gambling population. Some of the most notable Irish casino domains (many of which were based offshore) came packing hundreds of slot games for Irish players to enjoy. These include progressive jackpot slots, 3D slots, mobile slots and non-progressive video slots. Fruit machines have always been popular in Ireland, too, whether found in pubs, arcades, high-street bookies or online.
Table Games: The Irish do not have such a big love affair with table games, at least not in comparison to players in other European countries. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped some Irish players wanting to try their hand at them. We’d hesitate to call them popular, but frequently played table games at irish online casino sites will typically include blackjack and roulette. Craps also tends to do rather well. There isn’t much of an audience for baccarat in the Republic of Ireland, although, this doesn’t mean that you can’t play the game at Irish casino sites.
Poker Games: Poker games are one of the few traditional casino classics which does have a large following. It is not uncommon for many of Ireland’s most reputable and popular gambling sites to offer not just poker games, but also a wealth of poker tournaments. There are no specific laws in Ireland which relate to poker gaming, so in the past, it wasn’t widely available at local casinos. However, offshore poker rooms have regularly been available for Irish poker fans who wish to take their gameplay to the next level.
Live Dealer Casino Games: As most casino games weren’t really available in Ireland for long periods, many Irish players had to visit offshore casinos if they wish to get to grips with the latest craze in casino gaming – live dealer casino games. Most of these games are streamed from exotic places, and gameplay can often be found using the euro currency. A variety of gambling games with different table limits can be played at Irish betting sites, although, again, some table games have proven more popular with Irish players than others.
Bingo Games: Bingo is very popular in Ireland, just as it is in the neighbouring United Kingdom. Oddly enough, there are no specific laws relating to bingo in Ireland, as bingo is considered a lottery. Instead, bingo games are governed by the Gaming and Lotteries Act. Because bingo games have been legal for a very long time, bingo halls regularly offer these games in the country. Moreover, online bingo sites are open to catering to players in the country.
Scratch Cards: Scratch cards can be played as a land-based game or online. There isn’t much demand for the digital version of these games in Ireland, but the same could be said of any country, really.
Lottery, Games: Lottery games are legal in Ireland and fall under the same laws as bingo games, as mentioned. The Irish National Lottery is the state-sponsored game of choice for many, although Ireland does compete in major pan-European lotteries, too. Irish players also have access to international lottery betting sites and can acquire tickets to worldwide lottery via ticket agents, as is becoming increasingly more popular these days.
Sports Betting: The Irish are world-renowned for loving a punt on sports. Horse racing is a national pastime in the Republic of Ireland, and many races take place each day. This naturally means that many millions of euros change hands each year betting on these races. Any of the best online betting sites open for Irish players will also readily serve up sports betting options to their players.
Taxes on Big Wins at Irish Casinos
Ireland does have gambling taxes in place. However, these gambling taxes are not typically placed on players. Instead, the burden is on the online casinos and sportsbooks to cough up the case. In late 2018, the Irish Government announced that the traditional 1% duty paid by sportsbooks (well, any license gambling domains, really) would be doubled to a 2% levy. This was done to try and secure €50m in revenue, to be split between public spending and problem gambling treatment.
The decision did not sit well with bookies, who claimed that a large number of betting shops would be forced to sack staff or close down. Nonetheless, the move was implemented. What does this mean for Irish players, though?
Irish players are not subject to gambling taxes on their winnings. However, it should be noted that if they win a substantial amount, and that generates sizable revenue via interest, they would be required to pay income tax on those figures. The situation is a lot less clear when it comes to professional gamblers.
The Best Irish Online Casinos to Join Today
If you are based in Ireland, you will have a myriad of online casinos and betting sites to choose from. As of 2020, you will be able to play at Irish licensed online casinos and sportsbooks. However, Ireland is not going to completely close the door to offshore and foreign betting sites, either. This gives you two very different ways to play.
As we don’t rightly know precisely what services Irish licensed casinos will offer, it is understandable that some players will want to play abroad. Wherever you decide to spend your euros on gambling games, the best Irish online casinos will all have similar features. We deem these features to include:
Irish-Friendly Bonuses: Not all casino bonuses and promotions at offshore casinos are available to players living in Ireland. The best ones will be. While you are checking out the terms and conditions for these bonuses, it is worth ensuring that any bonuses you do claim are fair, and have reasonable conditions such as wagering requirements and playthrough rates.
English Language Gaming: It is exceptionally rare to find an online casino offering gameplay in Gaelic. With that in mind, your chosen casino needs to offer services in English. Fortunately, most online casinos do, so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for you to find.
The Euro Currency: Converting currencies can sometimes lead to added fees. You want to avoid that. The best casinos for Irish players will automatically serve up the euro currency, and you should be able to deposit, wager and withdraw using this option.
Irish Payment Methods: Irish payment methods are predominantly the same as those found in UK online casinos. Both Neteller and Paysafecard are popular in the country, but so are VISA, MasterCard, Laser, WebMoney and EcoPayz. Ireland is one of the few notable countries in the world (alongside the UK) which also sees PayPal accepted at online casino sites.
Your Favourite Games: As we’ve said above, Irish players love to have a punt on many different types of games. This has to be taken into consideration when you decide to bet at online casinos. The best Irish online casinos will carry not just slots and table games, but also instant win titles, bingo games and naturally, many will offer sports betting options, too.
Reliable Support Options: Most of the best Irish online casinos excel at offering customer support. These services should be available in English, and if telephone support is provided, it should be toll-free via an Irish phone number. While an FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide and e-mail support are handy, having live chat available on a 24/7 basis is all you really need.
Mobile Gameplay: Irish players should have access to mobile casino gameplay. Long gone are the days when slot players would download casino software to their PC. The best Irish casinos will not only provide mobile gameplay via an instant play site; they may also offer betting opportunities via dedicated iOS (Apple) and Android apps.
As mentioned, things are changing in the Irish online gambling scene in 2020, but what we’ve covered so far is correct at the time of writing. Ireland’s gaming industry is set to go through a remarkable transformation over the next twelve months, so it should be an exciting time for players to play their favourite games.