Northern Ireland Gambling vs Southern Ireland Gambling
Any discussion of gambling in Ireland needs to begin with a quick lesson in the geographical makeup of the island country. Ireland is divided into two distinct jurisdictions.
The first is Northern Ireland, and it is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
The second jurisdiction is known simply as Ireland (or The Republic of Ireland). Covering five-sixths of the island, its capital is Dublin. It is completely independent of Great Britain.
The country is also divided into four provinces: Munster, Ulster (the lone province of Northern Ireland), Connacht and Leinster. There are also 32 counties, with twenty-six existing in Ireland and the other six in Northern Ireland.
Popularity of Gambling in Ireland
Over the last several years, the popularity of gambling in Ireland has soared. In 2001, for example, the Irish spent 1.6 billion Euros on gambling, compared to 3.6 billion Euros in 2006. And keep in mind that this figure does not include online gambling or casinos. Not surprisingly, it is also estimated that over 40,000 people in the country have a gambling problem.
Irish gamblers (or visitors to the country) can enjoy casinos, dog and horse tracks, poker rooms, lotteries, bingo and sportsbooks. The country has also played host to the European Poker Tournament, The Irish Open and the International Poker Open.
Irish Gambling Laws
Casino gambling in The Republic of Ireland falls under the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act. This law makes casino gambling illegal, except for private clubs. This loophole has allowed casinos to operate within the country, but it has also served to keep away the major companies and their mammoth gambling establishments.
Gambling winnings are tax-free in the Republic of Ireland.
To become a member of a “player club,” an applicant must provide both age and residence. The methods for membership approval are regulated by the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland (GALA). It should also be noted that player clubs do not serve alcohol to their customers.
You must be at least 21 to become a member of a player club in The Republic of Ireland.
Gambling Laws in Northern Ireland
While part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is not included in the Gaming Act of 1968 (which made gambling legal in Great Britain). Instead, gambling was legalized by The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985.
While player clubs are supposed to be allowed in Northern Ireland, their popularity is virtually non-existent compared to that of their neighbors to the south. Part of the reason is a reluctance on the part of businessmen to open such establishments. Sean Murphy opened the Cavendish Club in Belfast in 2004, primarily as a poker room, and he went to great lengths to work with authorities and comply with the law. Despite this fact, the club was raided by police and its clients (mostly doctors, lawyers and businessmen) were arrested. Since then, Northern Ireland has had a severe lack of player clubs.
In Northern Ireland, it is illegal to make a bet with anyone under the age of 18, although the legal age for football pool betting is 16. You must be at least 16 to purchase tickets for a public lottery. Also, you must be 18 or older to play on a fruit machine with a cash payout of 10 pounds or greater. There is no lower age limit to play on a fruit machine with a maximum prize of up to 8 pounds.
List of Irish Casinos
Horse and Greyhound Racing in Ireland
Horse and dog racing is popular throughout the country. While most tracks feature either one or the other, the country’s first dual track opened in Dundalk in December of 2007. Other tracks can be found in the cities of Dublin, Kilkenny, Ballybrit, Limerick, Mallow, Wexford, as well as many others.
Sports Betting in Ireland
Sportsbetting is popular (and legal) in Ireland. While the first online bookmaking sites were launched in 2004, brick-and-mortar establishments have been around for many decades. Some of the more popular include Ladbrokes, Cashmans Bookmakers, EirBet.com, Gamebookers Sports Betting, and Paddy Power. With 119 outlets, Paddy Power is the largest bookmaker in Ireland.
Poker in Ireland
Poker in Ireland is not illegal as long as the promoter/banker does not retain a portion of the pot. As the popularity of the game has continued to grow, Ireland has found itself the host of numerous prestigious tournaments. In fact, The Irish Open has become Europe’s largest tournament with a 3 million Euro guaranteed prize pool.
If you find yourself in Dublin, you might want to check out one of the many poker rooms available. These include the Colossus Club, Jackpot Club and Merrion Square Club.
The lotto holds a drawing twice a week and is legal throughout the country. Recently, lotto tickets underwent a 50% price increase (to 3 Euros per ticket), making the Irish lottery among the most expensive in Europe. To win the jackpot, you must select six numbers correctly from among 45. The National Lottery can be played by phone, Internet or digital TV.
Like many other countries, bingo is popular in Ireland both for recreation and as a fundraising activity. Notable bingo halls include: Galaxy Bingo (Belfast), Planet Bingo (Belfast), Grand Bingo Club (Dublin), National Stadium Bingo (Dublin), Shirley Temple Bar’s Bingo (Dublin), Star Bingo (Dublin), Transport Club Bingo (Dublin), Whitehall Bingo (Dublin).
Online Gambling in Ireland
Ireland began hosting online casino and lotteries in 2003, and the first online bookmaking sites launched in 2004. But compared to the rest of Europe, online betting has been somewhat slow to catch on. Most Irish bookmakers host their servers offshore.
Poker and Fruit Machines
Two types of slots are available in Ireland - Random and Reflex machines. While random machines are impossible to predict, Reflex machines vary their payout according to the previous play (aiming for an 80% payout percentage). Reflex machines can be found in arcades, cafes and pubs.
United Kingdom Gambling
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