It is reasonable to presume that Ireland’s gambling regulations are similar to those of the United Kingdom, given the close proximity between the two countries. Ireland maintains a tougher stance on gambling than many other countries do, especially when it comes to casino-related activities, and much of the country’s current legislation, especially with regards to online gambling, is outdated and in need of reform.
Read on for more information about the gaming rules in Ireland.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
The Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956-2019 make it unlawful for businesses to run casinos in Ireland unless they have a specific license to do so. However, the Betting Acts 1931-2015 make sports betting lawful in Ireland.
Let’s take a closer look at Ireland’s complicated gaming legislation.
Casino gambling, contrary to popular belief, is prohibited in Ireland, and no legal channels for its establishment or operation exist. But because private games aren’t mentioned in the law right now, many private members’ clubs are operating legally. Slot and amusement machines are the only other type of machine that need a license to operate.
However, Irish players can still enjoy online casino slots, table games, and live dealer games by signing up with sites registered in other jurisdictions. The law in Ireland has not yet been revised to legislate for online casino gambling.
In accordance with Irish law, poker is considered a form of “gaming.” Offline poker games on a public level are therefore prohibited in the country, and there is no way to legally operate such a game. Private poker games and clubs, like casino gambling, are not governed by any established laws.
Since internet poker games are not explicitly addressed by current legislation, they are in the same legal gray area as online casino games. This means that Irish poker players will have to look elsewhere for their pleasure.
In order to run a legitimate bingo business in Ireland, operators must first secure a license from the District Court or a permit from the Irish National Police, An Garda Sochána. Bingo games are lawful in Ireland but other forms of gambling are prohibited since they are seen as a sort of lottery.
Also not explicitly addressed in Ireland’s gambling rules is online bingo gambling. Those living in Ireland who are interested in playing online bingo can do so at any of several offshore sites.
Ireland’s Gaming and Lotteries Acts provide for strict regulatory oversight of the lottery industry. An Garda Sochána or the District Court can award a permit or license for smaller lotteries. The Irish National Lottery, however, is governed by the National Lottery Act 2013 and not the aforementioned statutes.
Since Ireland has yet to enact any laws particularly regulating internet gambling operations, it is unclear how the law in Ireland applies to online lotteries. It is possible, at least according to the National Lottery Act of 2013, that online supply of lottery betting services is permitted on the basis of land-based licensing, as the Irish National Lottery has a website where residents can play online lottery games for real money.
The Rise of Social Casinos, Skins Markets, Lootboxes, and Crypto-Based Gambling
Existing gambling restrictions in Ireland do not apply to games where no money is exchanged hands. Loot boxes and gambling on skins fall under the same category.
Ireland does not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender, but due to amendments made to the EU’s 5th Money Laundering Directive, virtual asset service providers are now required to register with the Central Bank of Ireland in order to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Numerous offshore crypto casinos currently allow players from Ireland to access games in a variety of cryptocurrencies.
Gambling Regulations in Ireland
Sports betting, including wagering on horse races, is virtually the only form of gambling for which comprehensive legal frameworks exist for both traditional brick-and-mortar venues and their digital counterparts. The Betting Act of 1931 and the Betting (Amendment) Act of 2015 make it possible for Irish citizens to partake in offline sports betting. The Irish Revenue Commissioners issue the necessary licenses for business operations.
Only Horse Racing Ireland, operating under Tote Ireland Limited, and Rásaocht Con Éireann (Greyhound Racing Ireland) have been granted licenses to run totalisators in the country.
In 2015, the existing Betting Act was amended to specifically legalize online sports betting in Ireland by extending the same licensing restrictions to companies operating sports betting services remotely.
The Irish government has not addressed the legality of fantasy sports betting.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
Gambling in Ireland is restricted to persons over the age of 18. Anyone under the legal age of 21 is not permitted to visit a betting establishment, buy lottery or amusement games, or gamble on sports.
Most operators in Ireland must comply with the country’s gambling tax regulations, which impose a 23% VAT on players’ earnings. Offshore sites that welcome Irish players are included in this category, as are private gambling clubs.
There is an excise levy of 2% of turnover for both brick-and-mortar and internet sportsbooks (applies exclusively to wagers placed by Irish consumers for international bookmakers).
Irish Gambling Laws: A Brief History
Horse racing has a long and storied history of being a focal point in Irish gambling, both on and off the track. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the country has had betting and bookmaking laws on the books since the 1700s.
The country’s legislation covering sports betting is the most extensive, with the first Betting Act passing in 1853, being updated in 1926 and 1931, and finally being updated in 2015 to permit online sports betting.
In Ireland, totalisators are governed by the Irish Tote’s monopoly and are still governed by the Totalisator Act of 1929.
Ireland does not have a long history of casino gambling, and the private clubs that make up the sector now didn’t appear until the early 2000s. When it was first passed in 1956, the Gaming and Lotteries Act effectively outlawed gambling in Ireland.
The Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, a precursor to the modern Irish National Lottery, dates back to the early 1900s.
Ireland’s Online Gambling Laws: The Basics
In general, Ireland’s gaming laws are dated and in need of updating, and the government is working on a solution. Here are the essentials of Ireland’s gambling regulations:
It’s against the law to participate in unlawful casino gambling because: Small private member clubs are the only ones eligible to apply for a license.
Lack of oversight of online gambling: The current law does not make any reference to internet casinos, live dealer casinos, online bingo, or online poker.
Bingo can be played legally in person: Licenses and permits are required for all operators.
Legality of lotteries is established. The Irish National Lottery is authorized by that country’s National Lottery Act, which also authorizes lottery gaming to be played online.
Betting on sports is legitimate: Land-based and internet sportsbooks must both be licensed before they may accept customers.