Ireland Gambling Laws

The gambling industry is a fruitful field that expands with the development of new technologies. Given the fact, the law in Ireland that concerns this activity has been changing constantly. If you are curious about the way the Irish government regulates gambling, read on.

Gambling in Ireland

In order to keep up with the branch of industry that has been developing continuously, the country of Ireland has been implementing changes in its gambling act accordingly. Although it may be difficult and confusing for the gambling enthusiasts to stay in touch with the latest changes, they are proof of Ireland’s responsible attitude towards the matter. Therefore, if you are eager to engage in gambling within the borders of Ireland, study the laws that govern the activity.

The gambling laws and regulations in Ireland date back to the nineteenth century. The Betting Act of 1854 is the first one to legally address the subject. Nevertheless, the interest of the country to acknowledge it and manage it accordingly did not end there. You can see the progress Ireland has made over the years in terms of gambling regulations when you compare the outdated act of 1854 and the more recent ones. In the following lines, we will thoroughly study the subject of gambling in Ireland from a legal point of view.

Casino Games in Ireland

Up until the mid-1900s, the Irish law did not concern casino gambling in any way. However, the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 finally addressed the matter. According to the Act, Ireland prohibits commercial casinos. Nevertheless, even though casinos as such are not allowed to operate in the territory of Ireland, there is a certain loophole of which the casino operators have managed to take advantage.

Apparently, although they cannot run casinos, they can run members-only gambling clubs. One can consider such venues small versions of real casinos. They comprise various table games, slot machines, video poker, along with some other games that are commonly played at casinos. Technically, such a solution is not a violation of the law. There are around fourteen gambling clubs across the country of Ireland and they all require membership to participate.

Nevertheless, there have been certain endeavours to change the existing law. As it turns out, the Gambling Control Bill of 2013 will, if passed into law, allow gambling for real money at up to forty land-based casinos in Ireland. The purpose of the Bill is to manage online gambling, as well as the traditional form of the activity. However, since the Parliament has not approved the Bill yet, we cannot be certain whether the situation in Ireland regarding gambling will change in any way in the near future.

Virtual Casino Games in Ireland

Irish citizens who prefer playing their favourite casinos at home to searching for a bricks-and-mortar casino can rejoice. Online gambling is legal in Ireland, provided that a casino has a license. Not only are the Irish gamblers free to access the licensed domestic virtual casinos, but they are also allowed to gamble at the regulated offshore ones.

The concept of online betting as such in Ireland did not exist until 2001. However, it was not until 2003 that the Irish authorities acknowledged it and incorporated it into their gambling market.

Poker in Ireland

Poker in Ireland

Since commercial gambling is illegal in Ireland according to the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, there are few places where the local gamblers can enjoy a live game of poker. Poker tables are available at the clubs that require membership, but there are not nearly enough of them across the country. Given that the clubs are scarce, many poker players transition into the online gambling world.

Even though the Irish law states that commercial casino games, poker being no exception, are illegal, the largest poker tournament in Europe is Irish. Not only is the Irish Open Poker Tournament the largest within the territory of Europe, but it is also the second long-lasting No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker tournament worldwide. Given the fact, it is obvious that poker assumes a rather significant position on the Irish gambling market.

As the traditional poker game in Ireland endures limitations, its online counterpart is thriving. Since the virtual form of gambling, in general,l is legally regulated and allowed in Ireland, the same goes for the game of poker. Irish poker players can enjoy their favourite table game at a variety of casinos on the Internet — hosted both locally and abroad.

Pari-mutuel Wagering

Pari-mutuel wagering is a betting system used in sports events that do not last for long and end with all the participants ranked according to their results. In Ireland, this type of betting dates back to the time before the regulated gambling. Since you are aware of the moment the Irish government took an interest in the matter, you can imagine how long the history of pari-mutuel wagering is.

The most recent legislation to address this betting system is the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act of 2001. The establishment of the Horse Racing Ireland is due to the mentioned law. Its purpose is to monitor the entire industry in order to make sure everything is in accordance with the legislation. The horse racing enthusiasts from Ireland can wager on the races live or online through both domestic and remote bookmakers.

Laws and Regulations Regarding Bingo in Ireland

Bingo halls as such do not exist in Ireland. The reason is the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. According to the Act, bingo games are legal only on the condition that the profit goes to charity. The government prohibits non-charitable bingo events. In such circumstances, bingo proprietors reached for the same loophole of which the casino operators have taken the advantage. Therefore, there are bingo clubs that require membership across Ireland.

The alternative to participating in a game of bingo in one of the clubs is playing the game online. Irish players have a variety of gambling websites that offer bingo at their disposal. They can choose whether to access one of the locally hosted virtual bingo halls or opt for a foreign one. Either way, online bingo games are legally recognized in Ireland and the government approves of them.

Lottery in Ireland: How is It Regulated?

The state lottery in Ireland was established in 1986. The legislation responsible for its creation is the National Lottery Act of 1986. It was not until 1988 that the Lotto game as such first appeared. The scratchcard games preceded it. The entire concept of lottery implied charitable causes.

Nowadays, as the whole gambling market has evolved, the National Lottery Act of 2013 regulates the lottery. The purpose of the new act was the transfer of the National Lottery License to a third party. The financial difficulties the Republic of Ireland had been going through caused the entire process. The transfer partially funded the building of a national children’s hospital.

Additional Legal Information

Given that it has been decades since the creation of the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, the Irish Cabinet has recently decided to modernize the gambling law of Ireland. The way to achieve the goal was creating the new legislation which would keep up with the latest changes in the gambling world. This bill has dealt with the phenomenon of underage gambling by raising the legal age from 16 to 18. According to the new act, the lotteries that imply prizes of up to €5,000 must acquire a permit from a Garda superintendent. The law requires the lotteries of up to €30,000 to obtain a license from the District Court. Nevertheless, the Parliament has not approved the law yet.


To sum up, gambling law in Ireland is a complexed matter that has been changing along with the market. Even though it may seem confusing, it is actually the proof that the country of Ireland is continuously striving to be up to date with the latest modifications in this branch of industry. Ireland has been adapting to the evolution of gambling by modifying its legal approach to the matter. The activity in Ireland nowadays differs significantly from the form it used to have in the past.

One of the essential things to remember is the difference between traditional and virtual gambling in the Republic of Ireland. It is highly recommended to keep in mind the ways the law views each of the forms. Whereas it is illegal to engage in a commercial gambling activity on land, the law permits you to navigate through the Internet and gamble for real money at one of the virtual casinos. Not only is it allowed, but the Irish gambling enthusiasts are free to choose between two options, both of which are legal — local and offshore gambling websites. For those who still prefer live gambling experience, they will have to settle for the members only gambling clubs, at least for now.