Gambling is a popular activity in Ireland. Although the country is mostly known for horse and greyhound racing, there are other forms of gambling, which too are popular with the Irish public. The gambling laws in Ireland are governed by the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, which are slightly out of pace with other countries of the world. Ireland on this aspect has had to face criticism many times in the past and there was a review of the gambling laws in 2010, especially relating to online gambling and casinos. Here are the various forms of gambling in Ireland and the laws that govern them:

Horseracing and greyhound racing

Irish men are known for their love of horses and this is a reason why horseracing is a popular sport in Ireland. The horseracing industry enjoys the patronage of the government and therefore, has the sanction of the state’s support for the industry. The Horse and Greyhound Racing Act of 2001, governs the rules of horse and greyhound racing. Although horseracing is legal in Ireland, the establishment of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals is not allowed in betting shops or public houses. The FOBTs are considered gaming machines and therefore, do not find a place in the public houses. However, the exception is limited to the Republic of Ireland only, as UK has allowed the establishment of such terminals.


Under the purview of the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, casinos are illegal in Ireland. However, due to the existing loopholes in the law, the establishment of private clubs offering casino-like facilities is allowed. Therefore, private casino clubs thrive in Ireland whereas large casino establishments have been kept away. To become a member of any such club, an individual must be 21 years of age and has to provide his residence proof. Along with this, other membership approval guidelines are mentioned in the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland (GALA).


Poker is very popular in Ireland. Although it is legal, it is not without regulations. The banker or promoter of a game of poker cannot have any share in the portion of the pot. Other than that, there are other regulations governing the game of poker. Despite this, poker is very popular and Ireland has been host to some of the best tournaments in Europe. The Irish Open with a 3 million, prize pool is a coveted tournament.

Lottery and Bingo

Ireland supports lottery and there is the National Lottery as well. Although the lottery tickets in Ireland are the costliest in Europe, playing lottery is still very popular here. Bingo is another pastime of the Irish people. Both bingo and lottery are legal and therefore, enjoy the state’s support.

Online gambling

Although the pickup has been slow, yet online gambling is showing signs of becoming popular. The slow pace is attributed to the fact that legally, online gambling was not permitted until recently. It was only recently that the Horses and Greyhound Act of 2001 allowed the Irish public to bet online with other companies than those based in Ireland.

As stated by the gambling regulation its main objectives should be the following ones:

  • Protect the consumer, i.e. the player;
  • Protect the vulnerable, including children;
  • Prevent crime e.g. money laundering;
  • Protect Exchequer revenue (i.e. taxation) by ensuring a proper audit trail;
  • Ensure a future for gaming through appropriate regulation.