Sports betting in Ireland has seen a boom in recent years, with an estimated 12% of Irish adults visiting a betting shop weekly and 2% now regularly betting online. Irish bookmakers are doing well for themselves.
With over €5 billion apparently spent by punters in Ireland every year, it is becoming big business. Major companies now provide bonuses and rewards specifically tailored to Irish punters, and the industry is continuing to grow.
In fact, a study has predicted the betting industry could be worth €7.5 billion a year to the economy by 2020.
Irish Betting Laws
Gambling in Ireland is governed by the somewhat outdated Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956.
This act leaves Ireland a little behind other countries in terms of gambling laws, but there have been amendments in recent years following criticism.
There was a review of the act in 2010, and this was followed by the Betting (Amendment) Act in 2015. This amendment means that all remote operators must now pay a tax and be licenced in Ireland, bringing in an estimated €25 million a year for the country.
Online gambling was first allowed in Ireland in 2001, under the Horses and Greyhound Racing Act, but is now legal throughout the country since the Betting (Amendment) Act of 2015.
Popular Irish Bookmakers
Three main bookmakers have the monopoly on betting in Ireland.
According to a report in August 2017, 72% of all betting shops in the country are either Paddy Power, BoyleSports, or Ladbrokes.
Paddy Power is the largest, accounting for 30% of all licenced betting outlets with 264 shops. BoyleSports has 219 outlets, and Ladbrokes 143.
Even though these three major brands have the lion’s share of the betting industry in Ireland, there are a few popular independent bookmakers who continue to make their presence felt.
Bar One Racing
Established in the 1990’s, Bar One Racing have expanded in recent years and now have around 47 premises throughout Ireland. As well as this chain of modernised betting shops, they also operate a popular telebetting service.
Harrington Bookmakers brand themselves as “The punters no1 choice bookmaker” and the business has grown to twenty-five betting shops since the first opened in 1976. They ensure first-class customer service and fantastic facilities, with the customer always the most important thing.
Bruce Betting, established in 1977, has a chain of around seventeen betting shops throughout Ireland. They promise to provide great value on a daily basis, always treat their customers fairly, and to reward loyal punters.
Bambury Bookmakers is a family-run business, founded in 1980, and has more than ten betting shops. It did have more premises, but some have recently been sold to BoyleSports.
Local Football Competitions in Ireland
Horse racing is still the number one sport for gamblers in Ireland, along with Gaelic Football, but Football has seen a rise in popularity.
With the expansion of online sports betting in Ireland, punters can bet on football competitions from around the globe. These include the ever-popular English Premier League, and major competitions such as the UEFA Champions League.
However, Irish punters are also able to have a flutter on competitions local to their country, and which punters from other countries may ignore.
The main competition is the League of Ireland Premier League, with the LOI First Division also being of interest.
Beginning in 1921, the League of Ireland was initially just one division. This was split into two in 1985, changing the league system to a Premier League, consisting of twelve teams, and a First Division of eight teams.
In 2006, the FA of Ireland and League of Ireland merged and introduced an A Championship, consisting of non-league and amateur teams. Before 2006, the team finishing bottom of the First Division would need to reapply to maintain their league status. Now, there is a promotion/relegation system in place meaning smaller teams can move up a tier.
There are also several cup competitions in Ireland. These include the FAI Cup, which first took place in 1922, and the League of Ireland Cup, which was established in 1974.