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A Complete Guide to Online Casino Gambling in Ireland: Legal Aspects, the State of the Market, Customer Preferences

Irelanders live in a country with some tradition in gambling, hence, they have responded more actively and with greater interest to the emerging reality of Internet gambling. Many of them had the experience of wagering in an online casino Ireland despite being somewhat unaware of the relationship of gambling with the law as well as the current state of the field. Before rushing to search for the best online casino Ireland it is highly advisable to learn some essential background regarding the gambling industry in this country. Below is a short guide covering a few important aspects.

Are Online Casinos Legal in Ireland?

The legal situation on the Irish online casino market could seem slightly confusing considering the situation around traditional casinos. First, the Irish legislation distinguishes between “betting” and “gaming and lotteries”. In practice, betting has to do with betting on the outcome of various events, such as in sports, politics, and many other domains, while gaming relates to lotteries, casinos, including online casinos, etc.

The Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 prohibits commercial casinos on Irish soil. Nevertheless, a loophole in the law was found which allowed gambling in members-only clubs. Hence, more than a dozen such mini-casinos (which are called clubs rather than casinos) emerged up to the present moment, where people can come to try their luck and play for real money after joining as a member. As of 2019, Irish laws do not explicitly address online gaming. Technically, the Gaming and Lotteries Act refers to all gaming products (lottery, casino), hence, it applies to any Ireland online casino as well, with all its peculiarities, restrictions, and loopholes.

By contrast, betting, which is chiefly regulated by the Betting Act adopted in 1931, saw an important amendment in 2015. This amendment addressed bookmakers and betting intermediaries that operate remotely, such as via the Internet, telephone, or telegraph.  Online bookmakers or intermediaries accepting bets from customers located in Ireland must conform to the licensing regime under the Betting Act. Most importantly, Irelanders can legally engage in licensed and regulated offshore gambling or domestic gambling, whether this relates to online casinos, betting sites, etc.

What Is the Current Situation with Online Gambling in Ireland?

The partly restrictive, partly non-existent legislation is a significant impediment to Ireland casino online. This is the key reason why online gambling in Ireland is typically provided by licensed offshore operators, located in jurisdictions with a modern regulatory framework in place. Examples of popular offshore regions in this context are Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, etc.

In an attempt to address the current restrictive environment and to update the archaic Gaming and Lotteries Act, the Gambling Control Bill of 2013 has been proposed and is pending approval in parliament – if adopted, this could allow gambling on a larger scale and would increase the number of land-based casinos to 40. Importantly, this bill comes with laxer regulations for the Irish casino online and offline but also for other forms of gambling, but it is not clear whether it will be adopted anytime soon. This act aims to attract reputable operators, given that currently, even despite the attractive tax rates, only a few online gaming companies have moved their operations in Ireland – current legislation is stalling evolution in this field.

What Types of Casinos Irish People Prefer?

Irish people are renowned for their love of gambling – the gambling market is estimated at around 1.1 billion euros a year with the following structure:

  • €65 million – private clubs/casinos;
  • €134 million – gaming machines;
  • €310 million – lotteries; 
  • €315 million – land-based betting. Sports betting sites are so popular given that they have deep roots in the past – they are a sort of tradition here;
  • €220 million from online gambling – although this one is harder to quantify exactly. An estimated 2% of the population engages in casino online Ireland.

Among the games most played in a real casino online, one can find card games like blackjack, poker, which can be played by means of software or via live casino. Like in other countries, slots dominate the market, taking advantage of their simplicity, their appealing graphics, the diversity of themes, etc. The popularity of online slots mirrors the situation offline – there are around 40000 physical slots across the country. Other immensely popular games include roulette, craps. Consequently, players expect that top online casinos offer the majority if not all of these titles.

Obviously, when it comes to choosing a casino online, individual preferences or demands take priority. Thus, the best online casino for someone might be one which accepts bitcoin or a Paysafecard allowing maximum anonymity or safety both while gambling and in case of money withdrawal. Other people might give preference to platforms that advertise higher JackPot prizes or seasonal promotions or contests. Thus, any casino strives to cover as many of the aspects they deem relevant for their customers. The best online casino sites and most popular betting sites normally have all their licenses and taxes in order.

What Authorities Regulate Online Casinos in Ireland?

Top online casinos offering services to Irelanders are normally keenly aware of the legislation and the authorities that supervise its implementation. Here is a list of the key authorities regulating gambling in Ireland: 

  • Revenue Commissioners – this is the Irish tax authority which grants licenses for betting and remote betting, for gaming (including on machines), etc. It also ensures that remote betting operators have a valid license and pay their duty.
  • DOJE – the Department of Justice and Equality (DOJE) issues certificates of personal fitness which are among the application documents required for obtaining intermediary licenses for betting, remote betting, or for acting as a betting intermediary. This authority also assesses the compliance of the providers of gambling services in the context of money laundering.
  • ORNL – the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery monitors and regulates how the National Lottery works. It manages the National Lottery Fund and approves new games among others.
  • ASAI – the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland. As the name suggests, its responsibility is to monitor whether advertising is done correctly, in agreement with the Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland – the latter covers the gambling industry as well.

Online casino best practices imply respect for the non-binding legislation as well.

What Taxes Apply to Online Gambling?

Only after bookmakers register for betting tax, they are allowed to start operations with the public. Certain types of bets are exempted from taxes, such as on-course/ tote bets, however, as a rule, betting is taxed by means of an excise duty – a 2% tax applies for bets entered into by a bookmaker, including a remote one. On the other hand, the players aren’t taxed on their winnings.

Remote betting intermediaries owe the government a duty of 25% on their commission charges. eGaming services are taxed on a point of consumption basis at a rate of 23%. Remote bookmakers and remote betting intermediaries also have to pay a fee of 10.000 euros for an initial license and a renewal fee dependent on the turnover (ranges from 10.000 to 200.000). According to a European directive, offshore operators with Irish customers may need to pay the value-added tax on these revenues.

Does the Demand for Online Casinos in Ireland Grow?

On average, a casino Ireland online has a 10-15% growth rate a year, which is representative of the field. This rising popularity is explained to a great extent by the greater accessibility of online as compared to land-based casinos – many of these platforms can be accessed and are even optimized for mobile devices, so punters can literally carry a casino in their pocket. Just like in a land-based casino, in an online casino real money can be earned. The flexibility extends to include time as well – an online casino is independent of the working hours of land-based premises. It is simply open 24/7.

An online casino also looks more friendly and appealing from the perspective of the minimal wager required – while it might be embarrassing to go into a land-based casino and spend 10 euros, no one will judge you for this online. Given all these, it is natural to expect that lots of people would continue to migrate towards online gambling. Obviously, care should be taken to engage with licensed platforms only – otherwise, it would be useless to hope for compensation of loss resulting from potential fraud.

What Bonuses Irish Players Prefer?

When choosing the best casino online it is highly recommended to compare the package of bonuses offered. Welcome bonuses, weekly/ monthly bonuses, bonuses for reloading the balance, preferred payments bonuses, loyalty or high-roller bonuses, referral bonuses – all of these are popular among Irish players. A few online casino reviews should be helpful in highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each top casino online from the perspective of the bonuses offered. To activate welcome bonuses, visitors might need to simply register on the platform and to make the first deposit, while to be awarded no-deposit bonuses – the latter is not even required.

Typically, welcome bonuses are offers of generous packages of free trials – best online casinos never fail to include them. For instance, in the case of slots, this involves free spins. Importantly, they help understand the mechanics of a certain game, its rules, and to overcome potential anxiety.

Now that you’ve learned more about the legal aspects of online gambling in Ireland and the current state of affairs in the field, we hope this would lead to more peace of mind and better-informed decisions when enjoying the platforms available out there.