History of Gambling Legislation in Ireland
To get the full picture of Ireland’s gambling legislation, it’s time for a quick history lesson. Gambling itself has been regulated in Ireland since the middle of the 19th century; since then, a number of separate laws have been introduced. Below, we’ll dive into the most important ones and assess their impact.
A quick note beforehand — current Irish law separates gambling into three distinct categories: betting, gaming, and lotteries.
- Betting refers to bookmakers setting odds against a future event.
- Gaming covers playing a game of skill, chance, or a mixture of both, for stakes risked by the player.
- Lotteries are competitions for money involving guessing the outcome of a future event.
Betting Act 1931
Repealing the slightly earlier Betting Act 1926, the Betting Act 1931 was introduced to regulate the bookmaking industry and relax certain rules around betting that were part of the Betting Act 1853.
2015 saw an amendment to the Betting Act, a reflection of the increasing popularity of online sports betting and casinos.
Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956
Introduced in 1956, the Gaming and Lotteries Act addressed both casino gambling and lotteries. Essentially, physical casinos were prohibited by the act, but some canny business owners were able to use certain legal loopholes to start gambling ‘clubs’.
There are only a handful of these businesses in Ireland today and all require membership, but they offer a range of casino games like slots, video poker, and blackjack. Gaming at these clubs for real money doesn’t violate the Gaming and Lotteries Act.
The 1956 Act was recently amended by the 2019 Act, the purpose of which was to standardise and modernise various aspects of gaming legislation.
Gambling Control Bill 2013
The Gambling Control Bill is a proposed framework to legalise casino gambling in Ireland on a larger scale. If passed, up to 40 legal land-based casinos will be able to operate in Ireland, but it’s now unlikely the Bill will pass — it’s been largely superseded by the newer upcoming Gambling Bill, which addresses areas the Gambling Control Bill did not.