A Brief History of Irish Gambling


Ireland and gambling have always enjoyed a close relationship. Sports betting is of particular interest in Ireland, most notably horse racing. In fact, Ireland has the most horses per person in Europe and is in the top four producers of racing horses in the world. The emerald isle is renowned for its horse racing events and established jockeys today – but how did it get to this point? Here we trace the tracks of gambling in Ireland.

But it’s not just horse racing. You can enjoy stellar Irish casinos across the island today, including some excellent Belfast casinos.

An English Influence Took Charge

Dare we say it, but Ireland’s already growing gambling industry was supercharged by the English. The English had regained the rule in Ireland, and it was somewhat a British colony, but they were not there to police behaviour. The good news for the gambling industry at this time is that it went mostly unnoticed and unregulated. People could freely keep on betting on their favourite horses without any problems. This may not have been the case if the English had not turned up during the 18th century.

The 1962 Betting Act

The IRA and British Forces fought for three years with Ireland eventually regaining control of its nation in 1922. This opened the gates for Ireland to start governing its own land, and the 1962 Betting Act was introduced to outlaw illegal sports bookmakers. The Act stated bookmakers required a legal betting licence awarded by the government. These licenses are still needed today, and you should only play at an online casino with one. The top casinos on CompareCasino all have legal betting licenses and services you can trust!

The Gambling and Lotteries Act

Nearly three-and-a-half decades after the Betting Act was introduced, a new act followed, which would make life difficult for casino businesses. These Gambling and Lotteries Act regulated establishments that wanted to offer betting services that were not tied to sports and horse racing, such as casinos. But there was a loophole to help gambling games go on. Private clubs were allowed to offer these casino games to members, and thus, casinos lived on in all but name. It did give Ireland’s casino industry somewhat of an underground reputation, however.

The Gambling Control Bill

The underground nature of casino games in Ireland carried on until the digital revolution began. With internet services increasing and online casinos becoming available in other nations, the Irish government sought a way to enable their own gambling industry to flourish. They chose to do this with the Gambling Control Bill. The bill was designed to regulate the fairness of games, collect taxes and protect players, rather than prohibit these games like the Gambling and Lotteries Act did.

However, the legislation does prevent super casinos from forming by limiting the number of tables and game son offer. Ireland did not want to create an environment that could lead to substantial Vegas-style venues.

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