26 January 2022
By Roger L Kennedy
Gambling and Betting in Ireland – A Look Ahead for 2022
Significant changes are coming to the Irish gambling industry. Find out what is likely in store for casino and betting sites in Ireland for 2022.
Like most markets in the online gambling industry, Ireland has experienced notable growth in the past decade. This growth has continued in spite of hiccups caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with both 2020 and 2021 proving to be successful years, particularly for online casinos. If anything, the pandemic proved the importance of offering casino and betting activities online, as people were urged to stay at home and gambling establishments were forced to shutter their doors.
But what about 2022? What’s in store for Ireland’s gambling industry? Will growth continue or will new upcoming legislation hinder the success that has been enjoyed by some of Ireland’s largest betting brands?
Irish Betting Companies Could Expand
The plans for 2022 for two of Ireland’s largest gambling companies, Flutter Entertainment plc and BoyleSports, is uncertain at the moment. Flutter, which is the company behind the best online casinos in Ireland like Paddy Power, Sky Sports, and Betfair, experienced a price drop in its stock in 2021. Many investors blamed the 5000 points drop on Flutter reducing its full-year earnings guidance.
However, the company’s share price showed signs of recovery in December. There’s a good chance it will continue to improve in 2022, due to Flutter’s purchase of one of the UK’s largest online bingo brands, Tombola. In early January, Jefferies and other investing platforms upgraded the company to a Buy rating after factoring in some of Flutter’s recent upgrades.
As for BoyleSports, one of Ireland’s biggest independent sports betting firms and one of the best betting apps operating in IE, the company has done well. It made more than it expected in 2020, reporting a €1.4billion turnover. In that same year, the company purchased all (33) of William Hill’s shops located in Northern Ireland. This purchase was not only the company’s biggest transaction to date, but also made it Ireland’s biggest retail bookmaker.
Though in 2021 the company expressed interest in purchasing some or all of William Hill’s 1400 shops in the UK, Caesar’s Entertainment (owner of William Hill) sold all of William Hill’s non-US-assets to 888 Holdings in September last year. However, commercial interest in the retail sector remains high and BoyleSports – among other betting brands – continues to keep a close eye on 888’s plans for William Hill’s retail holdings. If the company should manage to obtain some or all of these shops in 2022, it could help BoyleSports achieve the retail scale it’s been targeting.
New Gambling and Betting Regulating Laws Could Disrupt the Industry
Gambling regulations in Ireland are expected to get an overhaul after the “Interim Gaming and Lotteries Act” was passed in 2019. This overhaul has been long overdue and is intended to modernise the country’s current antiquated gambling legislation that dates back to 1931 and 1956. These new upcoming changes could be completed and implemented before the end of 2022.
Although official details regarding these laws have yet to be released, some new outlets have reported that the new regulator authority will employ 100 people, and have the power to develop new regulations and codes of standards, as well as the ability to impose fines on operators who are non-compliant.
There will also be a new gambling regulator who will have the power to revoke or suspend licenses and who can even freeze accounts and block incoming payments to providers. The regulator will also reportedly have the power to issue codes that control the time and frequency of gambling advertising across TV, radio, and other digital media channels.
Additional notable law changes that could have a significant impact on the Irish gambling industry include the banning of free bets, incentives, and VIP treatment for certain gamblers.
Continued Gambling Growth in 2022
Irish people are among the biggest gambling spenders in the world. The Irish Examiner newspaper reported that residents gambled an estimated €9.8 billion in 2019, with 70% of the adult population in the nation having gambled in some form in 2020.
Moreover, according to the Irish Post, per capita, the Irish rank third in the world when it comes to spending on gambling, only behind Australia and Singapore. Additionally, the nation’s residents prefer to play via the web with online gambling and online betting and sports betting ranking the highest in popularity.
It’s safe to say that Ireland’s online gambling and betting industry is on track to continue its growth in 2022. This growth will no doubt be fuelled by new technological changes and trends that occur within the industry to better accommodate players and reach a wider audience. Some of these changes/trends are likely to include greater use of cryptocurrency, an increase in mobile betting (even through devices like smartwatches), and growth in live casino popularity.