Gambling has long been a popular pastime across Ireland, but the rise of the internet has led to more people than ever before placing wagers on sports like rugby, horse racing and football.
But while it has never been easier than it is right now to place a bet - most Irish people have a smartphone that brings betting to the palm of their hand - there is more choice than ever. With so many different online betting sites to pick from, choosing which to use is a headache. Lots of people will also want to make sure that a sports betting site is legal for them to use.
So, what should Irish people do to check if a sports betting site is legal to use in Ireland?
Ireland’s Gambling Laws - A Brief Overview
The first thing for people to note is the gambling laws that are currently in place across Ireland. Irish players can legally gamble on everything from sports and casino games to poker, bingo, lotteries and more. The choice of things to bet on in Ireland is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.
As online gambling was specifically mentioned in the 2015 amendment of the Betting Act, it is legal to use online betting sites in Ireland for a wager on horse racing, football and so on. But the key thing that individuals who want to have a bet on sport need to remember is that online gambling is only legal in Ireland when players use websites that hold a valid gambling licence.
This either needs to be a specifically Irish gambling licence, or alternatively a valid remote gambling licence from a respected authority like the UK Gambling Commission. Malta Gaming Authority or the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association are the main alternatives to look for.
Naturally, it is also possible to legally have a bet at a physical betting shop, of which Ireland has hundreds. Popular brands such as BoyleSports and Paddy Power are among the best options. But when betting online, checking if a sports betting betting site is legal in Ireland is still crucial.
Things to Look for in a Legal Sports Betting Site in Ireland.
As we have established, a site needs the right licence in order to be legal to use in Ireland. This key information is normally displayed right at the bottom of a sports betting site. Indeed, unless a visitor was specifically trying to find that information, it is unlikely that they would ever notice it.
Take QuinnBet as an example. One of the leading online betting sites in Ireland, users can scroll down to the bottom of any page on the site to see information about how it has been licensed.
Right at the bottom of the QuinnBet website, it says that the brand is owned and operated by a company called Belbridge Consultancy Limited, which is licensed and regulated in the UK by
the Gambling Commission. There is also a note to say that the sportsbook in Ireland is licensed, with the number by which it was awarded written down for anyone who wants to check it out.
Legal Status of Offshore Betting Sites That Operate in Ireland
While there is no problem at all with using an Irish betting site like QuinnBet, Irish people might be a bit confused about whether they can use an offshore betting site legally as well.
The good news is it is also legal to use an offshore betting site that welcomes Irish players. This has been the case since an Amendment to the Betting Act was passed all the way back in 2015.
The change to the Irish gambling laws that was introduced because of that passing meant that it was then legal to run an offshore sportsbook in Ireland, opening more sites to players here. This is partly why there is now so much choice when it comes to online betting sites in Ireland.
As noted above, sports fans in Ireland should still check if a site is licensed before using it to have a bet. They can scroll to the bottom of the page to see if a licence from a body such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gambling Commission is mentioned there.
The Future of Online Gambling Laws in Ireland
Something for sports fans in Ireland who want to bet online legally to be aware of is the fact that betting rules and regulations can be subject to change. In Ireland, there is constant debate over the legal status of online gambling and a major shift in the rules could happen soon.
In fact, arguments have been raging over the Gambling Control Bill of 2013 for many years. It is still yet to be passed, but if it does eventually become law then there would be further regulation of the gambling industry. As this applies to online and offline betting, what people need to do to check if a sports betting site is legal in Ireland may change at some point in the coming years.
Fianna Fail has stated that reforming gambling in the country is one of their top priorities, so the future of online gambling laws in Ireland will certainly be something to watch very closely. A new seven-member Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland is set to be established to regulate the industry, and this could result in major changes to the legal status of online betting sites here.
Anne Marie Caulfied has just been appointed as the new regulator's chief executive and all companies and bodies that offer gambling products, physically and online, will need a licence. One change will be that betting with credit cards will not be allowed, following in the footsteps of a similar change in online gambling laws that was introduced a few years ago, over in the UK