Just like Britain, Ireland seems to be a gambler’s heaven.
For some reason, everyone assumes that the fun-loving, known (among other things) for their debauchery Irish are great gamblers who get to hold a dice before a baby rattle. Perhaps, it’s because of Ireland’s neighborhood with Britain, the actual gambler’s heaven. Or that’s all just stereotypes.
Anyway, the truth is that while Ireland is certainly not the country with the most restrictive gambling regulations in the world, it’s also not the one with the lightest ones, especially when it comes to land-based casinos.
Traditional Gambling in Ireland
Until 1956, all forms of gambling had been fully legal and barely regulated in Ireland. Lotteries, horse racing, greyhound racing (yeap, it’s apparently a thing), roulette, poker, blackjack, you name it. The Irish were enjoying whatever form of gambling they could reach. It was all fun while it lasted, but then the Gambling and Lotteries Act 1956 was passed and killed all the fun.
Basically, it banned land-based casinos in the country. Lotteries and racing remained legal, though. Today, over half a century later, the Act remains the primary piece of gambling legislation in Ireland. There isn’t a single official land-based casino there.
“Private Gambling Clubs”
However, there’s nothing that a crowd of determined gamblers can’t achieve. So, once the initial anti-gambling sentiment (that prompted the Gambling and Lotteries Act 1956) dissipated, the Irish found a loophole in the law. They started opening so-called “private gambling clubs” across the country. In essence, those are small casinos with everything a regular casino has to offer, including poker, roulette, blackjack, slots, and whatnot.
The only difference is that to gamble in a private club, one has to become a member. It’s a mere formality and doesn’t cost a dime. You’ll just need to be out of age and have an ID on you when you decide to check out Ireland’s underground gambling culture. Whether or not you are an Irish citizen doesn’t matter.
As of now, there are about 12 “private gambling clubs” across Ireland, and they are a pretty popular pastime among locals and tourists alike.
Other Types of Gambling
Sports betting, including horse racing, and lotteries are legal in Ireland. Perhaps because of the affiliation with Britain, horse betting is the biggest source of gambling revenue in the country. In 2015, the Amendment to the Betting Act legalized online sportsbooks, as well. Whatsmore, both Irish and foreign-based online sports betting is fully legal, so everyone can make the best out of Ireland’s betting lovers.
Online Gambling in Ireland
Now, the most fun part. Online gambling is completely legal in Ireland. It makes no sense that land-based casinos aren’t allowed, but online ones are, but that’s exactly the case. You can own, operate, and gamble in an Irish online casino as much as you want. You’ll need a license for the first two, though. Everything, from poker and blackjack to slots to baccarat and beyond, is legal as long as it happens online in a licensed, regulated casino provider. So, if you don’t want to visit a private gambling club (but honestly, why wouldn’t you), you can always gamble online, and it’s completely legal.
Is Ireland Going to Legalize Land-Based Casinos?
It is. The debate over the pointless restrictions enacted by the Gambling and Lotteries Act 1956 has been going on for a while. After all, what good does a ban on land-based casinos make if they still exist in the form of private gambling clubs?
The most recent shifts in Irish gambling laws seem promising. The government is looking into lifting the ban on land-based casinos, creating a regulatory body akin to the U.K. Gambling Commission, and upgrading the licensing system for all gambling businesses in Ireland.