The gambling business in Ireland is legalized. The horse racing and sports betting industry is well developed here. Bookmakers have been successfully operating in the country since the 18th century. The casino trend is formed in the form of semi-legal private clubs that offer gambling.
Ireland’s land-based gambling market (excluding casinos) generates gross revenues (GGR) of around EUR 2 billion annually. The lion’s share is brought by bets – about 1 billion EUR of gross revenue. Casinos give out over 200 million EUR annually.
Different types of gambling are regulated by different authorities. For example, the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery is responsible for the state lottery. The Department of Justice and Equality deals with betting and online betting. There are also several laws on gambling business.
Ireland gambling legislation
The most popular area of the gambling business in Ireland is betting. Bookmakers are governed by the Betting Act 1931 as amended in 2015. The tote is regulated by the Totalisator Act 1929 and is a state monopoly.
Games and lotteries (other than National) are subject to Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956 as amended in 2013. According to the law, gambling is generally prohibited. The exceptions are:
- gambling in circuses, traveling shows, at carnivals;
- games that are organized in such a way as to avoid the definition of illegal gambling in the 1956 Act. As an example: when the chances of all players are equal, and the bets do not go to the banker.
According to this law, lotteries must have small prizes and be conducted mostly for charitable purposes. They need a license to organize.
Gambling Law Reform in Ireland
Irish gambling legislation as of 2016 is outdated and requires reforms. The government has been addressing this issue since 2013: on July 15, the Master Plan of the Law on Gambling Control (the so-called “Heads”) was published.
This plan has no legal force and requires further development. However, it provides guidelines for future reform. The project should collect all regulations on the gambling business into one law and create one licensing regime for all areas of gambling.
In addition, according to the project, a new regulator will be created – the Office of Gambling Control, Ireland, OGCI. It will be funded from licensing fees.
The master plan proposes to issue licenses for running land-based and online casinos. A total of 43 categories of gambling licenses and two categories of registration forms are planned. OGCI will issue licenses. The registration system will be applied to residents of Ireland – or rather, to those who locate gambling equipment in this country.
According to the plan, bookmakers will be able to provide games at their points, although the exact opinion of the government on this matter is not yet known. Credit resources for players will be prohibited.
For a long time, casinos were negatively perceived by public opinion, but with the advent of online platforms, the situation has changed. The Casino Regulation Committee promoted reform of the casino sector in 2006-2008.
The master plan proposes to issue up to 40 casino licenses. The norm of gaming tables is 15, the norm of slot machines is 25 per playground. The location of the casinos will also be strictly regulated: for example, they will not be placed next to hospitals, churches, schools, etc.
They will also issue licenses for certain events, such as poker tournaments. Such permits may be requested by pubs and clubs.
The National Lottery is managed by the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (ORNL). The organization monitors the lottery, approves new games and controls the prize fund.
The Department of Justice and Equality issues the certificate of personal fitness required to license betting and online betting.
The Revenue Commissioners issue the actual betting and online betting licenses. She also oversees online bookmakers.
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland publishes and monitors advertising standards.
The Irish Police and Court may issue licenses for small and charitable lotteries.
Conditions for obtaining a license in a gambling jurisdiction
Casino licenses are not issued – they operate as “private clubs”.
For bookmakers, things are like this: first you need to obtain a certificate of professional aptitude from the Ministry of Justice. If a company submits the application, then at least two of the highest ranks of the company must have such certificates.
Then certificates are issued for the site – it must meet the requirements for betting points. An exception is the item on the horse track. Site certificate fee – 760 EUR. After that, the license itself. The license is issued for a period of 2 years. The fee is 500 EUR.
Licensed varieties of gambling
The following gambling is legal in Ireland:
- casino games;
- slots and gaming machines;
- terminal games;
- bingo and lottery.
Irish law does not distinguish between games of chance and games of skill. Poker is considered “legal play” if the conditions of the 1956 Act are met: the organizer does not receive any profit from the organized tournaments.
Casino games fall under the definition of gambling in the 1956 Act and are generally prohibited. Casinos do not legally exist, however anti-money laundering provisions apply to them.
Reform in licensed games
In general, the list of permitted games is formed by the Minister of Justice, Equality and Legal Reform. For certain categories in the General Scheme, there are the following provisions:
- financial spreads (rates) will remain under the control of the Central Bank;
- terminals at fixed rates (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, FOBT) will remain prohibited, unlike the neighboring UK;
- gaming machines will be allowed, they can be placed in individual points, bars, shopping centers and airports;
- new categories of lotteries for charitable purposes will be introduced. Annual licenses will be issued to lotteries whose prize fund is more than EUR 250,000 per month;
- scratch cards will receive separate license requirements. The maximum prize must not exceed 1,750 EUR.
Online games will also be quite affordable: the master plan is not going to limit the number of online casinos, bookmakers and other operators.
Online gambling in Ireland
Online gambling in Ireland does not yet have a clear licensing regime. In general, online gambling is prohibited. However, foreign operators (from the Isle of Man, Malta and others) offer their services to the residents of Ireland.
There are two types of online licenses: for the online bookmaker and for the online reseller. In the first case, players place bets with the bookmaker itself, in the second, the operator provides a platform where players exchange bets with each other.
The license for an online operator differs in that you do not need to obtain a certificate for the site. The license fee is EUR 10,000. The cost of the renewal depends on the operator’s income and varies between 10,000-500,000 EUR.
Popular slot machines in the country
We offer the most popular slot machines in Ireland:
- Age of the Gods: King of Olympus;
- White King;
- Luck O ‘The Irish;
- Goldwyn’s Fairies.
Age of the Gods: King of Olympus is a slot machine from Playtech. Contains 5 reels and offers 25 lines. There is a chance to get free spins with multipliers and additional wilds, as well as one of four progressive jackpots.
White King is a five reel slot machine from Playtech with 40 pay lines. There is a chance to get free spins with special “wild” symbols.
Luck O ‘The Irish is a 5 reel 40 payline slot from WGS. There is a chance to get free spins with special “wild” symbols.
Stardust is a slot machine from Microgaming. Contains 5 reels and 40 lines. As the game progresses, the user collects 10 gems to get free spins. Free spins give 1,024 ways to win. There is a chance to get respins.
Goldwyn’s Fairies is a 5 reel slot from Microgaming. Offers 20 lines, three wild symbols, respins, free spins.
The development of a legal gambling business in Ireland is severely hampered by the lack of well-developed legislation. Most of it is a “gray” market both among land-based “private” clubs and on online platforms. The government is losing quite serious amounts of taxes that could have come to the treasury from operators.
The Irish are considered one of the most gambling nations. The annual market volume is estimated at almost 2 billion EUR. With a good legal basis, as in neighboring Great Britain, the gambling business could provide good income for the state.