Gambling in Ireland

5 March 2021
By Roger Jones

In Ireland, casinos, slot machine halls and bets are quite widespread. However, all gambling is regulated by law. In theory. How exactly this happens and what types of gambling are popular with the Irish, read this article on

Ireland has one of the most conservative gambling laws. Almost all types of gambling entertainment are prohibited or restricted. At the same time, there is no special regulator in the country, and licenses for certain types of gambling business are issued by the Department of Justice and Equality.

Betting was legalised back in 1931, and in 1956 the government passed the Gaming and Lotteries Act, which effectively banned or limited all other types of gambling. In 2017, gambling business operators proposed to make laws regarding the prohibition of gambling more liberal and to carry out reforms, but so far there have been no changes.

The paradox in Ireland is that many laws are outdated and unenforced, but no one is going to abolish them, even though society has long lived as modern realities dictate.

The first casinos began to appear in the country in the 2000s. They took advantage of gaps in the legislation and registered as private members’ gaming clubs, whose activities were regulated by anti-money laundering legislation. Nowadays, such casinos continue to exist. There are about 20 of them in the country.

Also, the Irish use the services of online casinos quite freely, although only online bookmakers are officially allowed. Residents of the country are actively engaged in online gambling in companies that are licensed abroad, for example in Malta or Gibraltar.

In general, the Irish are very gambling enthusiasts. Approximately 67% of the adult population of the country gambles in one form or another. They spend about €7 billion a year on gambling entertainment (that’s over €1,000 per resident). Yet, only 1-2% of this huge sum goes through licensed offline establishments and goes into the country’s budget.

Now in the Republic of Ireland, the following types of gambling entertainment are widespread:

  • National lottery and various small lotteries;
  • Online casino;
  • Bingo;
  • Poker (including sports);
  • Betting (mainly on soccer, cricket, rugby, dog and horse racing);
  • Slot machines.

At the same time, slot machines were banned until 1970. Now the license must be obtained separately for each slot, a maximum of 6 shillings can be bet, and the winnings cannot exceed 10 shillings. This law is already outdated because it does not take into account the introduction of the euro. In 2017, more than 20,000 machines operated in Ireland (this number has now decreased), and a third of them did not have a license.

The game of poker is not legally regulated. Sports poker has developed and tournaments are regularly held in the country.

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