Legal and illegal gambling in Ireland - problems and policy of government

Gambling in Ireland is legalised since 1931. As of 2016, the country has about 20 casinos. Most of them are concentrated in Dublin. Gambling Ireland has more than 900 spots of bookmakers, 122 sites with arcades and over 10,000 slot machines. Online gambling is legal since 2015, companies can conduct gambling operations both inside the country and abroad. Check out the full list of all slots available on our website.

Gambling is regulated by two acts which consist of several laws. Some of them were accepted yet in the XX century and now are operating with small corrections. As for the online business, it was not presented in Ireland until 2015. The inhabitants of this country are only allowed to bet on websites of foreign companies.

After the above-mentioned date, online casinos were fully legalised and today provide the opportunity to do business within the borders of Ireland. However, paying all taxes and the cost of the license is required.

Slot machines are an integral part of any gambling venue no matter whether this is a building or a website. Here, visitors can play both for real money and virtual currency. Free video slots can be banned for personal reasons of the internet provider. The reason for such actions can be not explained to the public or it can imply the involvement of gambling components in a slot machine.

Brief description of Ireland

Ireland – it’s a state in Northern Europe, which is located on the most part of the island of the same name. The capital is Dublin. Currency – Euro.

Over the past 20 years, Ireland is suffering an economic downturn coupled with the global crisis. Banks, country's real estate and budget in 2010 were badly affected – Ireland had to borrow from the IMF.

Key industries – pharmaceuticals, medicine, mechanical engineering, information and computer technology, as well as food industry. Now, Ireland is gradually recovering from the effects of the crisis, not least due to the fact that it is a very favourable offshore zone.

Brief description of the gambling business in Ireland

Gambling in Ireland is legalised since 1931. Now, there are 20 casinos and private gaming clubs operating in the country. The biggest gambling city is Dublin. Most of all places with gambling entertainment are located there.

In 2016, the country has more than 900 bookmakers, 122 sites with arcades, more than 10,000 slot machines.

Gaming and Lotteries Act, adopted in 1956, forbade gambling, but there were loopholes that allowed managing casinos in the form of private clubs. Therefore, small-sized gambling venues operate in Ireland to this day. For example, the largest institution Emerald Casino – Clondalkin Q's – contains 8 tables for card games, 20 poker tables, 200 slot machines and video pokers.

The most popular form of gambling - betting

The most popular form of gambling in Ireland – betting on horses, dogs and sports. Already in 1931, the authorities adopted gambling control act Betting Act which regulates this business sector.

Main bookmakers in Ireland at the moment:

  1. Paddy Power;
  2. Ladbrokes;
  3. Boylesports.

Estimated gross income – EUR 1.1 bln.

Estimated gross income from gambling in Ireland each year is EUR 1.1 bln. What comprises this figure is described in detail in “Revenues of gambling business in Ireland”.

As of 2016, gambling in Ireland statistics shows that Irish players spend more than EUR 5 billion a year. More than 2% of adult players play online regularly. Land-based casinos generate only 1.5% of all gambling revenues.

Legislation of gambling in Ireland

Ireland gambling age limit is 18 years. The government is considering a proposal to increase the requirement to 21 years.

The main laws that regulate gambling in Ireland:

  • Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 – this gambling control bill 2015 is an amendment to the Act of 1931;
  • Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 2003 – Laws of 1956, 1986, 2003.

Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 legalises online gambling – the work of online bookmakers and brokers in particular. Also, the act permits applying for advertisements in two daily national newspapers of Ireland.

Gaming and Lotteries Acts allow some forms of gambling:

  1. lotteries except national;
  2. a limited number of gambling games for money.

Gambling regulators

The National lottery is under control of the Ministry of Public Expenditure and Reform due to the National Lottery Act 2013.

Casino Regulation Committee, organised in August 2006, is an Ireland gambling commission involved in the issues of casinos.

The issues of the gambling industry as a whole are of jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and Equality. It also created the Gambling Control Bill – a bill that is awaiting confirmation by the government. General layout of the gambling control bill 2016 was released in July of 2013.

The definition of gambling and ban on casinos

The Irish law defines gaming as games of chance or games requiring skills where players risk bets. The necessary element of the game is the use of special equipment: dice, cards, table, slot machine, etc.

Local authorities have the right to determine the form and plan of gambling control, to take measures to minimise the risk to the public.

Ireland gambling laws prohibit casinos. However, they exist in the form of small private clubs. Clubs, pubs and bookmakers can place a limited number of slot machines. They must request a license from the government.

Legislation in the field of slot machines in Ireland

Slot machines with high payouts and jackpot machines are distinguished as “hard” form of gambling. High prizes entail a lot of speculation. Players can spend hundreds of dollars in a few sessions where the number of game events is not limited. Lotteries and horse races offer a finite number of game events, which means that the player’s losses are also limited. Therefore, machines with high payouts are declared illegal.

Gambling Control Bill – update of Ireland legislation

Gambling Control Bill was first introduced in 2013 but has not been approved yet. The Government considers it necessary to promote it in 2016. There are both supporters and opponents of the Ireland gambling bill.

  • The bill is to replace outdated acts on betting and gambling. It will establish a new agency to deal with licensing and regulation of the business.
  • The law also will prohibit terminals with fixed bets. Now, players can bet on virtual events with their help. As it turned out, terminals cause a very strong addiction.
  • In addition, a new public fund will be organised for financing the treatment of gambling addiction. The money will be collected by a tax imposed on license holders.
  • Super-casinos are also prohibited by the new act because it limits the number of tables up to 15 units and the number of slot machines – up to 25 devices.

Taxation of gambling in Ireland

Ireland gambling tax for betting is 1%. Thus, the budget receives about EUR 27 million per year, which is about as many as in 1984 despite the explosive growth of the industry in recent years.

It should be noted, that the Irish VAT – value added tax – is currently 21%. This disparity, as well as quite a serious problem with problem gambling Ireland, make the government and analysts look for a way out. There is a need to change the legislation so that the budget received more money and some part of bookmakers’ or players’ revenues were allocated on the program for the treatment of gambling addiction.

Slot machines bring the state budget more than EUR 765 000 per year. And this income comprises only the annual license fee.

Today’s gambling in Ireland

Below, there is a list of casino games which are popular in Ireland:

  • National Lottery;
  • scratch cards;
  • Raffles and other lotteries;
  • soccer polls;
  • bingo;
  • slot machines;
  • virtual slot machines in betting shops;
  • table games away from home (including the especially popular poker);
  • online gambling;
  • betting on horses, dogs and sports;
  • social gambling and betting.

Revenues of gambling business in Ireland

Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Gavin Kelleher argues in his calculations that approximate gross revenue from gambling in Ireland amounts to EUR 1.1 billion per year. This figure is made up of:

  1. revenue from land-based betting shops – EUR 314 million;
  2. revenue from lotteries – EUR 310 million;
  3. revenue from bingo – EUR 8 million;
  4. revenue from slot machines – EUR 130 million;
  5. revenue from casinos and private gaming clubs – EUR 65 million.

As of 2016, Irish players spend more than EUR 5 billion a year. More than 2% of adult gamblers play online regularly. Land-based casinos generate only 1.5% of all gambling revenues.

Online gambling in Ireland

By 2015, online gambling was regulated by Horses and Greyhound Racing Act of 2001, which allowed Irish to place bets at online bookmakers located outside Ireland.

Due to the law Betting (Amendment) Act 2015, online gambling is fully legalised in Ireland. Remote gambling organisers can be anywhere within the country or outside it. If they are doing business in Ireland, they are to pay taxes and license fee.

Analysts predict that by 2020, the contribution of online gambling to Ireland's economy will amount to EUR 7.5 bln.

Revenues of online gambling in Ireland

Online gambling revenues are trickier to count comparing to revenues of land-based gambling venues. Kelleher says that the annual income of the online market is about EUR million. Here are the companies dominating the online Ireland gambling market:

  • Paddy Power;
  • Boylesports;
  • Betfair.

Terrestrial bookmakers suffer from the growing influence of the online market. Earlier, in 2008, there were 1365 betting shops. The number decreased to 948 in 2015.

Players move to playing online. Bookmaker Paddy Power notes in reports that 77% of its revenue comes from online gambling.

Online poker in Ireland

Poker is one of the most popular games in Ireland. Paddy Power Irish Open is conducted every Easter – in 2017, it will take place from 27 March to 3 April. This is one of the longest series of tournaments in the world. The prize fund reaches EUR 1 million.

Online betting in Ireland

Betting on horse and dog racing has the longest history. Now the most popular types of betting in Ireland are:

  1. football;
  2. horse racing;
  3. greyhound racing;
  4. Gaelic football – a kind of football common in Ireland, a hybrid of football and rugby;
  5. harling – ancient Irish ball game with wooden sticks.

The gaming license Ireland fee for online bookmaker depends on the size of income. This license payment scheme works for all bookmakers of Ireland, not only for online firms.

The minimum fee is EUR 10 000. A standard fee for a bookmaker license is EUR 250 000 or 10% of the annual income.

If a bookmaker works without a license, it shall be fined EUR 5 000-300 000 depending on the severity of the crime.

In May 2016, 42 licenses were issued to remote bookmakers and 9 to brokers.

List of Irish online casinos

The following casinos own licenses of Maltese and UK Commissions, as well as gambling regulator Ireland. They offer more than 100 different games and have been working on the market for several years. An Irish can get a lot of bonuses for the registration and regular deposits.

All Irish casinos:

  • No Bonus Casino;
  • Paddy Power Casino;
  • Free Spins Casino;
  • CasinoLand;
  • InstaCasino;
  • Yako Casino.

It is worth noting, that live casinos are not that popular in Ireland. As a rule, players choose roulette, blackjack, slots or bingo.

The most popular online slot machines in Ireland

Here are the most popular Slot machines in Ireland:

  • Monopoly – 9-reel slot machine with 2 bonus games;
  • Five Times Pay – the most popular slot machine with 3 reels and 1 payment line; the jackpot is 15 000 credits;
  • Cleopatra – 20-line slot game; winning on free spins is increased 3 times;
  • Double Diamonds – 3 reels and 1 payline; jackpot is 2500 coins;
  • Monty's Millions – five-reel slot with 40 lines; the bonus gives a chance of winning USD 250,000 on a single spin of reels;
  • Mega Moolah – progressive slot with 5 reels and 25 paylines; the device includes 4 levels of the jackpot, the largest of which reaches USD 1 million;
  • Major Millions – progressive slot with 5 reels and 15 paylines;
  • Tomb Raider – five-reel slot with 15 paylines; there are 2 bonus games and a jackpot in the size of 7 500 coins;
  • Hitman – five-wheel device with 15 paylines; all rounds provide bonuses and free spins;
  • Hell Boy – 5 reels, 20 paylines, bonuses and free spins;
  • Burning Desire – slot without paylines; it offers 243 ways to win and the jackpot of 90 000 coins.

Demographic data on gambling in Ireland

A study, conducted by the Department for Communities in 2010, showed that about 75% of the population of Ireland take part in a gambling game at least once a year.

  1. The most popular game – National Lottery. It involves 51% of the players.
  2. Raffles or other lotteries tickets are in the second place – they are bought by 39% of the players.
  3. Third place – scratch cards which occupy 28%.
  4. Betting in bookmakers – 20%. At the same time, the highest revenue is are common precisely to bookmakers.

Gambling Ireland statistics says that almost 44% of the adult population of Ireland play the National Lottery. Around EUR 772 million was spent by players in 2010.

Men play more often than women. Though there are more women players in scratch cards and bingo.

Slot machines, virtual games, table games and online betting – these are the most popular forms of gambling among the younger generation under 30 years.

The elderly often buy lottery tickets.

People with an income of less than GBP 100 per week play the most (or USD 512 per month). They are more likely to buy lottery tickets, scratch cards, and Raffles.

Problem gambling

Gambling affected 2.2% of the population. Men are more likely to become addicted than women. Most of all people suffering from problem gambling are young men aged 25-29 years (about 10% of all addicted).

The percentage of people suffering from gambling addiction Ireland is higher than in Norway, Canada and New Zealand. However, it is lower than in the US, Singapore and Macau.

It should be noted, that the gambling business gets a significant revenue from the players with gambling addiction. British academics Mark Griffiths, Jim Orford and Heather Wardle bring such figures in their gambling Ireland research:

“About 30-35% of the gambling industry revenue comes from players with serious gambling addiction”.

In Ireland, there is an Aiséirí network of centres dealing with people that have problems with alcohol, drugs and gambling. Their debt to these centres in 2013 amounted to EUR 500,000.


Gambling in Ireland is doing well and brings multi-billion revenues. However, due to outdated legislation, state budget receives less money that it could. Moreover, not enough attention is paid to the problems of gambling addiction. For example, there are still no deductions for gambling treatment, as it is done in New Zealand. Online gambling is monitored with difficulties, its income is partly in the “grey zone”. The government needs to take into account the development of this industry including online gambling. For more information about Gambling Ireland wiki, visit Wikipedia website.

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