Betting activities in Ireland have been regulated for centuries. The country has a significant history of betting on horse and greyhound races, both on-course and off-course. Ireland has regulated bookmaking activities since the 18th century under several statutes. Some of the most established bookmakers on the European market hail from Ireland, including the likes of BoyleSports and Paddy Power, which operates the largest telephone wagering service in the country.
Lotteries are also available to Irish nationals but are governed by separate legislation. The biggest lottery here is Irish National Lottery that has been in operation since 1987. It provides various products to local lottery players including scratchcards, instant win games, and draw-based games like Lotto, Daily Million, and EuroMillions.
Sweepstakes comprise another category of legal gambling products in Ireland and date back to the first half of the 20th century. The Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake began in 1930 as a means to collect additional funding for hospitals. It gained international recognition as tickets were made available in over 130 jurisdictions. The Sweepstake continued until the late 1980s and helped generate millions for hospitals in the country.
Unlike many other European jurisdictions, Ireland does not allow for traditional, i.e. commercial casino gaming. At the moment of writing, there are private gaming clubs with limited gambling options but access is restricted strictly to club members. Some of the biggest members-only casinos in Ireland include Fitzpatrick’s Casino, Playland Casino, and Carlton Casino Club.
The country has an outdated legislative framework where casino gambling is concerned, which explains why online gaming is not expressly regulated under Irish law. However, there are still offshore gambling companies that accept registrations from Ireland.
They typically operate with foreign permits issued in jurisdictions with modern legislative systems that account for the technological advances in the gaming industry. With that said, Irish authorities have unveiled intentions to update local laws so that licensing and adequate regulation of remote gambling is made possible in the country.
Laws that Regulate Sports Betting in Ireland
There are several primary pieces of legislation that govern gambling services on the Emerald Isle. Wagering on sports is regulated mostly by the Betting Act of 1931 and its amended version in the form of the Betting (Amendment) Act of 2015 . The legislation states that no individual or business should act as a bookmaker who accepts bets and sets odds unless they have been granted a license from the Irish authorities.
The newer version of the legislation also contains provisions that cover remote sportsbooks and betting intermediaries. Section 13 of the Betting (Amendment) Act of 2015 outlines the requirements that must be met for acquiring a license for bookmaking.
The Gaming and Lotteries Act and Its Amendments
Gambling and lotteries, apart from those offered by the National Lottery, were until recently regulated under the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 . However, this outdated piece of legislation was amended by the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act of 2019 . The amended version passed toward the end of 2019 and came into effect at the end of 2020.
The primary purpose of the new legislation is to modernize the outdated Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, although it also aims to better safeguard citizens from gambling harm. The changes will ensure lotteries operated in the country contribute more funds to charitable causes.
The stake and prize restrictions for gaming machines were also updated. The maximum one can bet on such machines is capped at €5 while prizes should not exceed the amount of €500. The provisions of the previous legislation from 1956 stipulated that maximum stakes on these machines should be €0.03, with payouts restricted to €0.50.
Online Gambling in Ireland
Online casino gambling is not expressly regulated in Ireland. There is no licensing regime for the time being, which makes it impossible for online casino operators to apply for and obtain permits from the local authorities. This, however, does not mean locals entirely lack options when it comes to gambling over the Internet.
Advertising of Gambling in Ireland
Like other countries, Ireland prohibits the marketing of unlicensed betting services. Licensed landbased betting operations are disallowed from placing any attractions or marketing materials inside or outside of their shops that might motivate people to make bets. Gambling advertisements fall within the regulatory remit of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
Under local laws, gambling activities should not be portrayed in such a way so as to encourage socially irresponsible behavior. Advertisements should not present gambling as a solution to one’s financial problems. It makes sense that such marketing materials should by no means feature minors or depict them participating in gambling activities. Furthermore, the ads should not contain images or other materials that might appeal to children.
Such commercials should not be broadcast around programs aimed at minors, either. Endorsements on behalf of celebrities or other recognizable figures that adolescents might hold in high regard are not allowed. Gambling advertisements are also monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).
Toward the end of 2020, the College Psychiatrists of Ireland demanded that gambling marketing should be prohibited in sports. Professor Colin O’Gara, a specialist in the field of gambling addiction, stressed it is no longer possible to ignore the connection between pathological gambling and the high volumes of betting-related ad. This leads to the normalization of gambling, the experts fear. Some have suggested a watershed prohibition to be implemented. However, the Irish authorities have not yet approved these proposals.
Player Protection Policies in Ireland
The betting industry in Ireland implements a variety of measures intended to reduce gambling harm and addiction. The staff of gambling operators undergoes special training so that they can identify individuals that may be affected by gambling addiction. There are also reality checks that enable gamblers to set up individual reminders of their betting sessions’ duration.
Also possible is to pick personal deposit limits for the day, week, or month. Brick-and-mortar bookmaking shops should display responsible betting messages in prominent places. Such messages are also shown via social media channels. Self-exclusion is yet another option offered by landbased and remote gambling operators in Ireland.
Gambling Regulators in Ireland
The supervision of gambling in Ireland is currently a responsibility of several governmental entities, starting with the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery the Regulator of the National Lottery or (ORNL). This body was founded under the National Lottery Act of 2013 , which repealed an older piece of lottery legislation from 1986. The ORNL has the remit to oversee strictly the services provided by the National Lottery. The regulator is also in charge of the National Lottery Fund and has the power to approve new games.
The Revenue Commissioners are mandated with the issuance of remote and landbased permits to sports betting operators that target the Irish market. The body also issues licenses for the operation of gaming machines and amusement arcades. The Revenue Commissioners monitor the conduct of remote sportsbooks to make certain they are authorized and pay their taxes.
Certificates of personal fitness are issued to remote betting companies and remote betting intermediaries by the Irish Department of Justice and Equality , or DOJE, particularly when the applicants are based outside Ireland. This governmental body monitors whether betting services providers in the country fulfill their obligations under the anti-money laundering laws.
Ireland’s gambling industry is likely to expand in the future with the launch of the independent regulatory authority planned for 2021. This body will be tasked with a significant number of responsibilities including the supervision of all forms of gambling, the protection of minors and vulnerable individuals, and the establishment of a social fund that aims to create awareness and offer support for problem gamblers.
The launch will also pave the way for the creation of six distinctive groups of permits – for sports betting, bingo, gambling machines, lotteries, casinos, and virtual gambling. The new regulatory and licensing regime is expected to lay the foundations for the expansion of Ireland’s gambling industry.