Gambling Laws In Ireland

Ireland FlagIreland is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and tourists flock to the big island to see the historical sites and indulge in the Irish culture for entertainment and vacationing purposes. Ireland is the second most populated island in Europe after Great Britain. The Island is divided into two countries: The Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom, while the Republic of Ireland is a free nation under its own rule. Since gambling laws are quite different around the world, this page is focused on the Republic of Ireland and the gambling laws they have enacted since gaining their independence.

Before engaging in any type of gambling entertainment in Ireland, it is important to understand the laws and how their legal system works. Before 1922, illegal gambling activities ran rampant across Ireland since the Brit’s had no viable way of policing the matter. Today, Irish gambling laws date back to 1926, a few years after the country was awarded its independence from Britain. Over the years many laws have changed, and now new laws have been enacted. We created this page to serve as a guide to our readers to better understand Ireland’s gambling laws and how the industry is currently regulated.

Is Gambling Legal In Ireland?

Yes, most forms of gambling are now legal in Ireland. Casinos have been considered illegal since the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 but because of a legal loophole, Irish casinos could operate if they were membership based. While this greatly affected the size of the casinos, today there are multiple casinos spread throughout Ireland. Most of the casino action lies in the capital city of Dublin, where you will find the heaviest concentration of people and casinos. Other areas like Cork and Limerick are likely to house 1 or maybe 2 casinos. It wasn’t until 2013 when the Irish Control Bill was passed that casinos became legal without membership. The Irish Control Bill has yet to be enacted but it passed the house and lawmakers are currently perfecting the regulation system and the bill is expected to be enacted in 2018.

Forms Of Legal Gambling In Ireland

In Ireland, there are several forms of legal gambling operations that residents can play in casino clubs, the racetracks and bet shops. The following forms are legal to Irish residents.

  • Casinos – While still in a legal limbo, casinos can operate as private membership clubs until the Irish Control Bill is enacted.
  • Poker – Poker is one of the most popular games in Ireland and is often played at the casinos or membership clubs. There are several annual poker tournaments, the tournaments are usually played in hotels to accommodate the huge number of people who participate in the games.
  • Lottery – Legal since the National Lottery Act of 1986. Today there are three games that the National Lottery operate; Lotto, EuroMillions, and Daily Million.
  • Sports Betting – Domestic sports betting runs rampant in Ireland. Paddy Power has over 200 bet shops throughout Ireland and others such as Boylesports also has over 200 physical locations in Ireland alone.
  • Horse Racing – Horse racing is one of the oldest forms of legal gambling in Ireland. There are currently over 26 racetracks in Ireland and residents are allowed to wager at the tracks, online or over the phone.

Forms Of Legal Online Gambling In Ireland

Yes, the Betting Act of 2015 made online gambling legal in Ireland when a proper license is acquired. Regardless of where entities are located or if they are operating online or not, conducting business in Ireland requires an Irish license and taxation. There are 3 licenses offered by the Irish government; a license for retail bookmakers, an operator’s license for remote betting offered to Irish players and a license for operators who facilitate Irish customers placing bets. Since the Betting Act of 2015 was enacted, residents are legally allowed to participate in the following forms of online wagering.

  • online casinos
  • online sports betting
  • online racebooks
  • online poker
  • online lotteries

Important Ireland National Gambling Laws

  • Gambling Control Bill (2013) – This bill revokes the Gaming and Lottery Act 1956 and establishes a new framework for licensing and regulating gaming operations in Ireland. The bill has been approved but has not enacted yet. It is expected to go into effect sometime in 2018. Once enacted it will appeal all existing gaming & betting legislation.
  • Gaming & Lotteries Act, 1956 – States regulation of casino and lotteries (excludes National Lottery) and deems most forms of public gambling illegal.
  • Betting Acts 1931-2015 – Provides the current licensing scheme for bookmakers, online and offline. The 2015 amendment made online gambling legal with the taxation of any entity that offers services to Ireland.
  • National Lottery Act 2013 – Provides regulation for the National Lottery, signed into law on May 14, 2013.
  • Finance Act 1975 – (Section 43) – Repealed the prohibition of gaming machines.
  • Finance Act 1992 – (Section 120-129) – Amendment to the Finance Act of 1975 and regulates the operation of an amusement machine.
  • Totalisator Act 1929 – Regulates the operation of tote or pari-mutuel betting. Only 2 licenses ever issued (Horse racing Ireland, Bord nag Con).

Who Regulates Gambling In Ireland?

As it stands now the following agencies regulate all gambling operations in Ireland. When the Gambling Control Bill has finally enacted the framework for regulation will change.

  • Irish Tax Authority (Revenue Commissioner) – Collects betting taxes, grants licenses for bookmakers, totalizator betting, and remote betting intermediaries. Certificates of personal fitness must first be obtained. Issues licenses for low-stakes gaming machines.
  • Irish Police Force – Issues a certificate of personal fitness and can issue licenses for low-stakes gaming machines.
  • Local District Court – Issues licenses for low-stakes gaming machines.
  • Office of the regulator of the National Lottery – Regulates the national lottery.

Legal Minimum Gambling Age

18, is the legal gambling age in Ireland. While there is at least 1 membership casino that requires a minimum age of 21, the national age is 18. Online wagering sites will usually accept Irish residents over the age of 18.

Illegal Gambling Operations In Ireland

Illegal gambling operations have taken place in Ireland since gambling was first regulated under English rule in the 17th century. While the English could not police the illegal activities very well it was usually left up to the landlords who were more concerned with making money than condoning the illegal activities. Illegal gambling was so rampant that when Ireland got their independence in 1922 they immediately wrote legislature in the form of the 1926 Betting Act. The 1926 Betting act is now known as the first government regulation of gambling in the countries history. Horse betting had been legal for many years but after the legislation was passed bookies had to obtain a license before they were legally able to accept horse track bets.  

Do I Need To Pay Taxes On My Online Winnings?

For the most part, most winnings from casinos, lotteries, and sports betting operations are not subject to Ireland’s capital tax for recreational gambling, but if the Irish government deems someone as a trader then their income can be taxed.

Any Legal Gambling Reforms Planned For The Near Future?

Yes, the Gambling Control Bill was passed in 2013 but still has not enacted. Residents are expecting the Bill to go into effect sometime in 2018. The Gambling Control Bill once enacted will change regulation and the licensing scheme for casinos and most forms of other gambling in Ireland.