The Origin of Betting in Ireland

If you’re a betting enthusiast, you’ve probably already heard of horse racing, but have you ever wondered where this trend originated from? Although today in Ireland there is a wide variety of sports betting options, horse racing is still the most popular one.

Consolidation of horseracing in sports betting

During the 17th and the 18th century, horse racing became popular throughout Ireland and was legitimised as a sport in Irish society. Furthermore, even though Ireland was a colony at the time, it still had a certain autonomy from England. That’s why many people found it much easier to gamble there than elsewhere. Another factor that consolidated horse racing and betting was the clear attention given to these two activities by the upper classes – and even royalty, such as King Charles II.
Legalisation and illegal acts

Following Ireland’s independence in 1922, self-government was established in all political and social areas. One such area was gambling. In 1926, the first gambling and lotteries law was established with the intention of regulating these activities and offering protection to punters. This law did not include sports betting, however, so horse racing – among other sports people used to bet on – was left to illegal bookmakers.

Current system in Ireland

Due to globalisation and digitalisation affecting the whole world, both payment methods and laws have had to adapt to this new situation. With the arrival of the 21st century, Ireland introduced the Gambling Control Bill, which aimed to regulate gambling of any kind, making it legal and safe.

Even so, only 40 licenses are available in the whole country, and each bookmaker is not allowed to have more than 15 tables. This type of regulation is quite common in other countries across the globe as well.

The main goal is to prevent uncontrolled gambling and offer secure and legal gambling opportunities to punters. As bookmakers need their licenses in order to operate legally, so do slot machines and other types of amusement machines. In Ireland, about 32 licenses are approved every day, which only goes to show that gambling is very prevalent here.

Some laws have negatively affected the winnings made through betting, however. Such is the case of the Horse & Greyhound Racing Act, passed in 2001. Since then, horse and greyhound racing has been on a steady decline with each passing year. Due to the completeness of the statute, the Department of Justice has set up a dedicated department that oversees all aspects of gambling and gaming. This body is in charge of issuing the licenses mentioned above.

Most popular sports to bet on in Ireland

It is not only horse racing that is at the top of the list of most popular sports to bet on. Soccer is the king of betting not only in Ireland, but worldwide. It is followed by tennis in third place on the list due to the variety of betting combinations that can be made. Golf and Cricket have also been considered top Anglo-Saxon sports to bet on for years.

These sports are purely exciting which can sometimes work against the punters who decide to bet on them. Another big highlight is motor racing, although it is not equally popular in all countries worldwide. It has sub-categories such as cars and motorbikes, each with their corresponding rankings.

Rugby and Boxing are also sports fervently followed by the Irish. The punters are more likely to bet on the Rugby World Cup and this is only increased by the fact that their own team has qualified very well in recent years. The adrenaline rush makes this sport the focus of bettors’ attention. Last but not least, esports have been added to the list of popular sports to bet on in recent years which widens the range of betting opportunities and refreshes the age pool of bettors in all bookmakers. It is proof that sports betting only continues to evolve, by including both traditional and modern sports variants.

How popular is sports gambling in Ireland?

Sports gambling, including Irish sports betting and Irish football betting, is a popular activity in Ireland. According to a report by the Irish Examiner, Irish players gambled an estimated €9.8 billion in 2019, with sports betting, lotteries, and casino games being the most common forms of gambling in the country. The Irish gambling industry generates €100 million annually in taxes for the government, according to an op-ed in the Independent.

Sports betting in Ireland is regulated by the Irish government, and there are several licensed bookmakers operating in the country. Betting in Ireland is legal for those over the age of 18, and there are strict regulations in place to ensure that bookmakers operate fairly and responsibly.

Sports gambling is a popular pastime in Ireland, with many people placing bets on their favorite sports teams and events. Irish sports betting and Irish football betting are particularly popular, with many bookmakers offering a wide range of betting options for sports fans. While there are risks associated with sports gambling, the industry is regulated in Ireland to ensure that it operates fairly and responsibly.


Legal licenses for bookmakers are still a prerequisite. Having these licenses ensures that punters have a space in which they can place bets with peace of mind. But these licenses also offer a means through which governments can control the levels of gambling in the country. This is achieved by offering only a limited number of licenses.

It is also crucial to remember to do plenty of research before betting, as getting carried away can lead to less-than-great results. Therein lies the true art of sports betting, analysing data, observing a lot and betting with caution in order to boost your chances of reaching the best possible results.

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