Ireland is one of the British Isles, a region with a long, rich history of legalized gambling. For several centuries, well before becoming two separate countries – the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – gaming activities have been regulated. At least as far back as the 1700s, both on-and-off-track betting existed, governed by various common law rules and statutes.
The island has celebrated horse racing, in particular, as a significant part of their culture, though other forms of gaming were available. But while the EU member state’s land-based gaming industry is flourishing – legal and regulated – with a clear licensing regime, the online market lags behind.
Regardless, have no fear; while the lack of licensing means gambling providers can’t host Ireland gambling sites within the country’s borders, it is legal to access operators in licensed jurisdictions like Alderney, Gibraltar, or the Isle of Man.
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Why Are These Sites Recommended?
This website was created to stop novice bettors from being scammed by the many rogue gaming operators out there on the web. We put together a team of experts, and they immediately began combing through the vast sea of online betting sites, passing on only the most professional, trustworthy, and high-quality locations to our readers.
The recommendations listed above are the best online gambling sites in Ireland, but you may find our rankings for a variety of subjects ranging from specific sports leagues or events to website qualities like fast payouts. In this case, the rankings are organized by country.
No matter what specific criteria you may be looking for, any sites recommended on our pages meet these fundamental requirements.
A History and Reputation of Legitimacy
Our team researches the corporation extensively, verifying that the same company hasn’t owned other blacklisted sites in the past or presently. They also consider customer reviews, formal complaints, and a variety of other factors included in a detailed background check.
Variety of Deposit Methods
However, sites with limited options aren’t always a bad thing. Some gaming operators specialize in specific deposit methods. With all of their focus on just one kind of banking, these websites often have quicker-than-average timelines and expert customer service for their preferred transaction.
Plus, it’s your money, so you should be able to cash out whenever you feel! Customer experience is a vital element of our ranking process, and in our team’s opinion, fast payouts go a long way toward keeping bettors happy and satisfied.
Is Gambling Legal in Ireland?
Yes, it is, both at land-based establishments and online, but it’s a bit more complicated than simply saying “gambling is legal.” Ireland’s laws have undergone significant changes in the last decade, racing to keep up with the rest of the global gaming industry and related regulations.
Brick-and-mortar commercial casinos are still prohibited under current laws, but over a dozen private gambling clubs have opened instead. These establishments offer traditional table games, including poker for real money, but don’t break the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 due to their “members only” rules for entry.
Sports betting is covered in the series of Betting Acts passed from 1931 to 2015. Ireland has legalized the use of both domestic and offshore gambling sites. As long as the operation is licensed, the country has no interest in restricting access to a reputable website, regardless of jurisdiction. As of 2003, the same goes for online casinos.
Poker, similar to casinos, is technically illegal to play commercially in Ireland, but it’s readily available and lawful within designated private gaming establishments. Furthermore, it is also perfectly legal to play online at a licensed gambling site located offshore or domestically.
Lotteries are also legal and regulated. 2013’s National Lottery Act made an exception in the previous rules, allowing for a large, lucrative Irish National Lottery. Before licensing UK operator Camelot to run the countrywide lotto, this form of gambling was limited to small prize pools and usually needed to have the aim of supporting a good cause.
The last form of gaming we’ll touch on is pari-mutuel wagers, which are commonly found in track betting. Once again, both off-track, in-person at the racetrack, and online bets are legal, as long as the bettor uses a licensed bookmaker or racetrack, whether it’s a domestic operation or offshore.
How Does Ireland Regulate Gambling?
At the moment, Ireland does not have their own licensing regime for locally-based Irish gambling sites. They do, however, offer two different licenses to foreign operators wanting to provide gaming to the country’s citizens. There’s no limit to the number rewarded to website operators, with the decision of whether or not to license someone coming from the Revenue Commissioners.
The first is a “remote bookmaker’s license.” After completing an application and receiving a “certificate of personal fitness” from the Department of Justice and Equality, the initial fee for such a license is 10,000 euros. Once the fee is paid, the entire process typically takes from six to ten weeks to complete. Operators must also pay a 1% betting duty to Ireland.
The second is a “remote betting intermediary license.” This mostly applies to bet exchanges and will allow foreign operators to provide the location and infrastructure for customers hoping to make wagers with another user, rather than “the house” itself. For this, Ireland takes 15% of the commission charges sites collect from both parties engaging in a bet.
Enforcement efforts are the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners. There are other agencies which oversee the national lottery, for instance, but the majority of the duties fall on them. The primary laws and regulations governing the industry are featured below.
Important Irish Gaming Laws
The first Betting Act was passed in 1854, which was used to outlaw gambling activities in Ireland. But it was the 1926 Betting Act that set the foundation for the country’s current regulatory environment.
This was the start of legalized, licensed gaming in the country. There have been numerous editions since. From 1931 on, bookmakers could apply for a license and legally accept bets at bookie shops.
In 2015, the Irish government passed the Betting Act that laid the groundwork for regulating online gambling. It was decided that gambling sites in Ireland would need to carry a license, whether it came from another jurisdiction in a foreign country or domestically.
In 1929, the Revenue Commissioners were given the responsibility of totalisators or pari-mutuel betting in Ireland. Horse race wagering was already a significant part of the Irish culture, with centuries of unregulated or common law gambling taking place before official legislation was put into place.
From this point forward, bookmakers and off-track locations accepting pari-mutuel bets were required to be licensed.
The first law explicitly aimed at lotteries was passed in 1986. Generally, the only legal lottos are played for small prizes and would have to be held with the intention of funding a charitable or community works project in order to obtain the proper license.
In 2013, the country passed a new National Lottery Act which allowed Ireland to outsource their national lottery to a third party, with Camelot out of the UK winning the license.
The Gaming and Lotteries Act was passed in 1956 and is the foundation of modern gaming regulations in Ireland to this day. This law actually outlaws most gambling activities, including poker and casinos.
Now, it’s important to highlight the difference between “gambling” and “betting.” Betting is expected to take some sort of skill, with the player holding some amount of influence over the results. Gambling relates to games of chance, such as most cards and casino table games.
In 2013, an effort was made to begin licensing and regulating online casinos, but at the moment, residents will have to make do with private gambling establishments by becoming a member. Still, this act does little to impact online gaming, where Irish betting sites may legally offer online sports wagering, poker, and casino games.
The Horse and Greyhound Racing Act was passed in 2001 and became the primary regulatory framework to oversee the race betting industry. This law essentially consolidated and extended aspects of the Betting Act of 1931, Horseracing Industry Act of 1994, and Greyhound Industry Act of 1958.
This act removed the need for the Irish Horse Racing Authority, replacing it with Horse Racing Ireland, an authority on the administration and regulation of racing in the country. Citizens can legally bet on races either at the track or at off-track locations, either in person or online.
In 2017, the legal gambling age was raised from 16 to 18 as a part of the Courts and Civil Liabilities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
Furthermore, the Irish Cabinet decided to increase the limits on local lottery jackpots.
Ireland’s Gambling History
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I’m caught using an unlicensed betting site in Ireland?
There aren’t punishments for individual bettors, although Irish law dictates that unlicensed gambling sites should be blocked and inaccessible from within the nation’s borders.
What are the risks involved with using a gambling website outside of Ireland’s borders?
As long as the gaming website is licensed by a reputable jurisdiction, there are no significant risks. You should always use a high-quality and professional Irish gambling site – like the options in our list of recommendations – but your information and money will be safe.
Does Ireland tax winnings from gambling?
As a general rule, no, winnings are not taxed. There are some exceptions for citizens found to be professional sports bettors, who may be subject to income taxes on their earnings. Furthermore, any income generated from your winnings will also be taxed, as well as any of your profits gifted to another party. The recipient will be responsible for paying the Gift Tax.
Who licenses the regulated and legal online betting sites in Ireland?
For the majority of gambling activities, the Revenue Commissioners are in charge of licensing, regulating, and policing the industry. The exceptions are racetrack betting, which falls under Horse Racing Ireland, and the National Lottery, which is under the authority of the Regulatory of the National Lottery.
Can I access one EU country’s legal online gambling site from another?
Yes. In Ireland, you may access gambling sites that have been licensed in other EU jurisdictions. Since 2015, the country has asked providers to obtain Irish licenses so that they may be taxed, so offshore gaming has been included in the country’s laws.