Gambling in Ireland is a favorite pastime. However, no discussion of gambling in Ireland is complete without a little mention of the island country’s geographical breakup. Divided into two parts, Ireland is home to some of the best gambling places. The first and the smaller part of Ireland, is under the jurisdiction of United Kingdom and is called the Northern Island with Belfast as its capital. The other part, covering five-sixths area of the island is the Republic of Ireland or simply Ireland, with Dublin as its capital.
Popularity of gambling
Gambling, as mentioned is very popular among the Irish population. As per an estimate, the spending of the Irish population on gambling increased from 1.6 billion Euros to 3.6 billion Euros from 2001 to 2006 respectively. It has now been reported that more than €4.5 billion was gambled in around 1,000 betting shops nationwide last year and this figure incredibly does not include on-course bets, National Lottery or online gambling. This clearly shows the increasing popularity of gambling. In addition, records also show gambling problem among more than 40,000 people, which for a small nation is a big number.
Gambling Laws in Ireland
The 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, defines the gambling laws in the Republic of Ireland. As per this law, casino gambling is illegal but private clubs offering poker rooms, bingo, lotteries can operate. The winnings made through gambling are tax-free in the Republic of Ireland. With exclusive rights only for the private clubs to operate, large gambling establishments have been kept away from Ireland. The legal age for obtaining the membership of any such private club is 21 and the guidelines as laid down by the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland (GALA) govern the approval of membership.
The Northern Ireland, being a part of the United Kingdom legalized gambling under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985. The legal age, however to make a bet or gamble in the Northern Ireland is 18 while this is relaxed by a couple of years for football pool betting and purchasing lottery tickets which can be done while being 16. Compared to the Southern region, the player clubs in the Northern region are not as popular due to the strict guidelines and the reluctance of the businesspersons to establish such clubs.
Types of gambling in Ireland
Irish people have access to the following types of gambling:
Horse and Greyhound racing: a very popular form of gambling, one can find many tracks featuring either of the type of racing. Although, most tracks are either for greyhound racing or for horseracing, the dual track in Dundalk can hold both such races. Other cities like Limerick, Dublin, Kilkenny, Mallow, Ballybrit and Wexford also have tracks for the purpose.
Poker: Poker is legal in Ireland, but only if the banker/promoter has no share in the pot. Poker is a popular form of gambling and many prestigious tournaments have been held in Ireland, displaying the increasing interest of the Irish populace towards poker. Moreover, with a guaranteed prize pool of 3 million Euros, the Irish Open has become the largest poker tournament of Europe.
Sports betting: both legal and popular, sports betting finds many enthusiasts in Ireland. There are several famous establishments offering sports betting, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power being the famous and larger ones. And you can always take advantage of a free bet to start things off.
Lottery and bingo: both lottery and bingo are legal and popular in Ireland.
In spite of the huge popularity of gambling in Ireland, the current laws regulating this market segment are “completely out of date” and need to be re-thought as justice minister Dermot Ahern commented – the latest reform happening over 50 years ago. It’s expected that a new legislation will be presented in front of the cabinet in the near future that should allow a Las Vegas style super casino to be built on the island.
Irish Government Opposes the Massive Casino Building
Have you wondered why no casino has been built on Irish soil so far? It is because the government of Ireland strongly opposes any form of gambling under the severe penalty of law. While various projects have been submitted so far, none of them has been approved yet. This is also the case with Richard Quirk’s vision of a large scale casino-hotel complex. If this project had been approved by the government, the massive location would provide over five hundred guest rooms, several golf courses, indoor and outdoor racing tracks for enthusiasts, helipads and even a scaled replica of the White House. This ambitious project promises to be the largest complex of this nature in the entire Europe.
The 2% Gambling Tax Increase: Two Sides to the Story
There has been a lot of hype regarding the intention of the Irish government to increase the one percent tax on all gambling. This tax proposition was intended to help the under-funded horse and hound racing industries of the country, which seem to be on their last legs, so to speak. Government officials and legal specialists have proposed that the gambling tax be upgraded to two percent, as opposed to the old one percent tax. However, while animal rights groups are applauding this project, the betting associations have protested vehemently against it. If you take a closer look to this tax increase, you will notice that the truth is somewhere in the middle, as both parties have a pretty strong case.
Gambling and Psychology
Gambling has become one of the most popular pastimes in the world, especially with the advent of online casinos. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that lures millions of people with the chance to score the big win or a championship title. Anyone can get in on the action, but statistically only a very few ever make it to the top echelon of winners. What separates the sharks from the minnows in gambling?