Online gambling wasn’t permitted in Ireland until recently, though it exhibits signs of growing in popularity all over the world. Ireland began to host online gambling websites in 2003, and the first bookmaking site in Ireland was launched the following year, 2004. Bookmakers in Ireland are required to operate online using bookmaking licenses. Other forms of gambling, such as the national lottery and horseracing, offer a nation-wide pastime, even as Ireland attempted to modify the language of the Betting Act of 1931. Due to the Act, gambling earnings are tax exempt, other than a small 2% tax collected from sports bets, such as greyhound or horseracing.
In March of 2009, the national lottery began to be offered online and off, through the phone, Internet and digital TVs. The lottery included instant win and draw games. However, it seemed all for naught as a majority of Irish players preferred sites that were based in other nations. Offshore sites typically offered a stronger tax structure, and it prevented any taxes from returning to Ireland. Ireland wanted to change this in order to offer consumer protection, as well as to correct the lost tax revenues. The Ireland Betting Bill of 2012 was an amendment to the Betting Act of 1931. It was published, and created a guide to obtain one’s Irish betting license. Under the amendment, bookmakers who took online bets, inside or outside of Ireland, had to obtain a “remote bookmakers’ license” if they brought in 10% of total turnover online. License renewal and new licenses would cost 5000 euros, while any unlicensed bookmakers could face up to 5 years in prison, along with hefty 150,000 euro fines for their first offense and 250,000 for other offenses. However, the bill failed to make it in 2013, and will not be considered until 2015.
All the gambling laws in Ireland are controlled by the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, which was slightly slower than other countries pace. While Ireland has always offered a wide variety of gambling options, they struggled to keep up with the changes in the world. Horseracing and Greyhound racing are two of the most popular betting spots in Ireland. The horseracing industry is sanctioned, and legal. Casinos are only legal in private-clubs that offer “casino-like facilities”, while poker is popular and regulated. The one rule the Irish have for Poker is that the banker or promoter of the game can’t have a share in the jackpot. Online gambling, on the other hand, became legalized in 2001. The regulations for online gambling is based on a few main “objectives” of the site and consumer. The website must protect the consumer, as well as protect the vulnerable, like children. It must take steps to attempt to prevent crime, and always make sure it pays its taxes by maintaining a clear audit trail. Through appropriate regulation, the website should ensure a healthy future for online gaming.
Online gambling in Ireland can be done onshore or offshore, and citizens won’t see any legal repercussions for using an offshore website.