The fascinating history of sports betting in Ireland

Ireland has long had a close relationship with the world of gambling. Casino companies are well aware of the strong ties Ireland has, and the first thing that many bettors will immediately think of is that Irish slots have common names like Luck O’ The Irish — but the betting history on the Emerald Isle actually stretches back over 100 years.

Sports betting in Ireland

Unlike the United Kingdom, the dynamic of sport in Ireland is entirely different. Although soccer (football) attracts some mild interest, many Irish sports fans prefer rugby and Gaelic football, which sell out stadiums and have millions of followers. Sports betting patterns also strongly indicate how well received a sport is in certain countries. For instance, the Premier League is by far the most wagered on league in England, and it dwarfs every other sport in terms of sheer popularity.

Take a quick trip over the Irish Sea, and Gaelic football sees upwards of 80,000 people cramming into Croke Park to watch the games. Irish sports betting tips don’t just cover Gaelic football but big rugby games and horse racing too, which are strong, traditional markets. Other sports are now also in this conversation — some sports that have seen a considerable increase in popularity over the last few years include combat sports like boxing and MMA, where you can find many new gambling markets.

Mobile betting has rocketed the capability of sports betting. Before the internet and mobile phones became essential in our daily lives, gambling companies in Ireland took a different approach to advertising and appealing to millions of Irish gamblers.

The early years

Historians have cited that Irish gambling dates back to at least the mid-19th century, but other experts believe it goes back much further, to before records were well kept. Gambling on conventional games like dice and local lotteries may go back even further. Still, sports betting is widely believed to have emerged at this point, when organised, professional sports began to appear in their earliest form. Horse racing has become synonymous with Irish sporting culture, and dozens of trainers and horses have succeeded in the greatest horse races.

Given that horse racing is so ingrained in Irish culture, this dominance is no surprise. Horse racing fans, especially those who have a strong knowledge of the Grand National, understand that Irish jockeys and breeders dominate the history of the world-famous race, and the fact that it is the origin of sports gambling in Irish culture makes it a formidable part of the history of the great nation.

20th century gambling in Ireland

Once horse racing was established, Irish bettors would extend their penchant for gambling by exploring other blossoming professional sports at the time, like hurling and Gaelic football. Irish lawmakers identified the possibility of a substantial tax return from properly legislated sports betting during this period. The rise of horse racing, Gaelic football and hurling coincided with the rise of association football in England, and all of these markets started to find a big audience among Irish bettors.

Throughout the century, more sports betting shops started to spring up all over the island, and for many sports fans, a trip to the betting shop was part of their weekend trip to watch their favourite sports team. Although this culture has since pivoted because of mobile sports betting, this was a big chapter in the development of sports betting in Ireland.

The rise of internet and mobile app gambling

Ireland, like many other prominent economies around the turn of the millennium, benefited immensely from a strong economy, easier internet access and cheaper smartphones, which enabled quick and easy access to the internet. Gambling companies that noticed this trend began to tailor their services so that Irish sports bettors could access various markets without going through the time-consuming process of travelling to a physical shop.

Although initial uptake was slow, once more people started to warm to the possibilities of what online sports gambling could bring, it opened up a whole new world for those looking to bet on Gaelic football and horse racing. In today’s market, mobile apps dominate Irish gambling, and the country’s culture is apparent throughout slot gaming and features heavily in naming some prominent providers.


Few countries have the longstanding relationship with gambling that Ireland has. Gambling in Ireland goes hand in hand with many of the country’s top sporting events, and this is likely to continue for decades. While nobody knows the direction the Irish gambling industry will take over the next few years, mobile gambling, cryptocurrency betting and casino gaming are all making great strides alongside the already prosperous world of digital sports betting.

Expect more of these markets to emerge and flourish within the burgeoning global online gambling sector. Ireland is streets ahead of other countries, such as the United States, when it comes to effectively regulating the industry. However, changes could still be proposed to the legislation in the future, especially with undiscovered sectors like cryptocurrency forming a legislative grey area as lawmakers and politicians attempt to regulate both most efficiently.

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