Gambling in Ireland – Regulations and Statistics

Gambling in Ireland – Regulations and Statistics

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The State of the Gambling Industry in Irelan

The iGaming industry is growing all over the globe. Ireland is not an exception either. If we take a look at predictions in Statista, we can see that already, in 2024, the Irish online gambling market is set to generate a revenue of €1.14 billion. This number perfectly mirrors the love of Irish people for betting and gambling.

But what about the government? Do regulations also “favor” the activity of Irish online casino sites, or do they hinder the prospects of this industry? In this article, we will spread light on all these questions. So, get comfortable and let’s begin.

A Quick Look at the History Behind Irish Gambling and Casinos

Gambling has always been a beloved pastime for people throughout all times. If we go back to the 16th and 17th centuries in Ireland, we can see how horse racing and betting on various activities dominated the market. These were also the domain of the Irish aristocracy and the gentry. However, during this time, only horse owners were participating in this type of gambling among themselves on private lands. So, common people were kind of out of such “enjoyment”.

Then, horse racing started to involve more and more people, even though it was an unregulated activity. However, ultimately, the Irish government stepped in to prohibit gambling in public houses. This decision, in turn, resulted in the appearance of various betting shops across the country.

According to historical reports, by 1751, there were over 409 separate locations for horse racing. At this time, the gambling market was more structured so that people could make both fixed and cash bets. However, in 1906, to the disappointment of betting fans, the Street Betting Act was passed, which put a ban on cash betting activities.

In 1926, the Irish Free State Government licensed betting shops. And already in our modern times, in 2001, the Irish government introduced the Horse & Greyhound Racing Act. Since then, the gaming field in the country has witnessed many changes. Precisely, most activities related to horse racing and greyhound betting started to take place only at licensed betting offices.

However, during the next few years, there was a huge decline in the number of operating betting offices – in 2016, there were just 850 offices compared to 1385 back in 2008. As for online gambling, this sector started to gain popularity starting from 2015, when the Betting Amendment Bill tried to integrate iGaming into the Irish market.

Regulations of the Irish Gambling Industry Today

Technically speaking, brick-and-mortar casinos are actually illegal in the country. This traces back to the regulations of 1956 and the introduction of the Gaming and Lotteries Act. According to this document, the public is prohibited from using any physical gambling venues in Ireland.

However, nothing can stop the gambler from gambling when there is a strong wish. Precisely, Irish gambling operators found a good way to bypass this law and created member clubs. This means they can provide casino services as private club members since they are technically not banned by the government.

Currently, there are 14 such clubs across the country. They are mainly located in County Limerick, Dublin, and Cork. And even though they work on a small scale, gaming enthusiasts still enjoy their favorite casino games like poker, blackjack, roulette, and other games of chance.

However, even these small clubs have to follow laws set by the Irish Revenue Commissioners to be able to continue operating. For example, they need to get a proper license for all casino games and betting activities on their premises, such as slot machines and poker. Also, if you want to play at any of these clubs, you should be of legal age (over 18 years old) and become a member of the club.

In 2013 and 2018, there was a renewed interest in the Gambling Controlling Bill. The legislation was presented by one of the former Irish ministers, Alan Shatter. The act proposed that over 40 gambling venues with 15 casino tables each can be established across Ireland. This document also aimed to boost the growth of online casinos. However, the Gambling Controlling Bill is still under review.

The Future of Irish Online Casinos

So, what holds the future for the Irish gambling market? Even though most gaming activities are banned in the country, Irish players continue to gamble. And if the Irish government decides to bring legislation more inline with current times, it will massively ease the lives of punters and give them access to more gaming activities without the need to join clubs.

Also, if we look at the data provided by Statista, we can see that the revenue generated from gambling has a big share in the country. Precisely, during the period of 2024-2028, the market is expected to have an annual growth rate of 2.53%. This, in turn, will result in a projected market volume of €1.26 billion. As for the online gambling sector, according to the same source, APRU (the average revenue per user) is anticipated to amount €2.06k by 2024. And the number of users engaged in iGaming will reach 657,600 by 2028.

So, all in all, gambling has a special place in the lives of Irish people and will always remain a highly demanded entertainment option in the country.

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