A quick survey of the various nations of the world with a focus on their respective reactions to online gambling reveals a vast range of opinions on gambling, from outright prohibition (Australia) to open acceptance. So where does that leave Irish online casinos?
Standing squarely on the open acceptance side of the range is the Republic of Ireland. Perhaps that’s because the Irish took a pragmatic view of online casinos and recognized they would persist despite any legislative declarations to the contrary.
It probably helped that Irish pragmatism included levying a tax on all wagers made with online casinos doing business with Irish residents. Be that as it may, the result is that the Irish enjoy virtually unlimited choices in selecting online gambling options.
Ireland: What If We Sliced the Bread Before We Sold It?
It might take the Irish a while to get their, um, Irish up, but when they do, things happen. Good things, it turns out in this case, at least for the online casino industry and its millions of clients.
One point before we leap into the fray: Since Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (which is covered elsewhere), our references to Ireland in this article pertain only to the Republic of Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland got along just fine for a couple of decades with its 1931 Betting Act, which codified and regulated bookmaking–mostly on horse and dog races. By 1956, however, the proliferation of the various ways to gamble (including carnival games, lotteries, and slot machines) required Ireland to pass the Gaming and Lotteries Act to more fully define what gambling was permitted and what was prohibited. Prohibited is the operative word here. Slot machines were out.
Parenthetically speaking, the prohibition of slot machines didn’t last but 14 years; in 1970, Ireland came to its senses and repealed that portion of the prohibition. Also parenthetically speaking, a handful of members-only card clubs—mostly in Dublin, the nation’s capital—maintained a discreet existence through this period.
Even lotteries were out. With the exception of hospital lotteries, of course. Yes, the Irish Sweepstakes (or, more formally, The Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstakes) survived the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, going on to make millionaires (and generate revenue for the nation’s hospitals) for another 31 years, until it was replaced by the National Lottery in 1987.
One last interesting note about the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act: The gaming age was set at 16, but don’t get too excited. This age was the minimum required for anyone wishing to enjoy the gaming offered by circuses, traveling shows, and carnivals. No one considers “Cover the Spot” or “Guess Your Weight” to be gambling.
And Then, The Internet Happened
Fast-forward through a few decades of prohibition for most gambling that wasn’t related to horse or dog-racing (or run by the government). The year is now 2015. Regulations that seemed new and fresh and all-encompassing in 1956 proved woefully incapable of dealing with the world wide web by the turn of the 21st century.
Oh, and the Irish people themselves didn’t care for the prohibition much, either.
Thus was born Ireland’s Betting (Amendment) Act 2015. The Internet, which only a few short years earlier had been a fledgling technology hardly worthy of notice, was suddenly and without warning the central interface by which everyone communicated, purchased, sold, wooed, educated, researched… Well, you get the idea.
Rather than issue denunciations and prohibitions that would have had very little effect on its citizens’ daily activities, Ireland decided to simply accept online gambling as a fait accompli and, instead, work to license, regulate, and—most importantly—tax it.
Yes, the Act required a 1% tax on every wager placed by an Irish resident at an online casino. Failure to pay the tax meant the online casino would lose its license to operate in Irish cyberspace.
Ireland’s wagering tax is arguably less onerous than the taxes many other nations place on gambling. It certainly does not prevent millions of Irish residents from regularly gambling online. Neither does the annual licensing fee Ireland requires each online casino pay (initially €10,000, subsequent annual fees are based on revenue, and are capped at €500,000) for the privilege of serving those millions of Irish punters.
Still, Ireland’s Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 only deals with online casinos by implication. The Act refers to something called “remote betting intermediaries,” which legal scholars say refers to remotely-located individuals who facilitate a wager made between two other individuals. However legal scholars wish to interpret it, the Irish government applies it to online casinos.
But since the law is somewhat vague about online casinos, it’s possible, even likely, that Ireland will one day legislate a clearer deal with online gambling. For the time being, we are all permitted to feel some relief that the Irish government is satisfied with taxing and licensing it.
Far too many nations treat online casinos as either an embarrassing necessity to be ignored or impotently rallied against or as a pestilence that must be exterminated in the holy heat of righteous prohibition. That’s why Irish online casinos are such a pleasant surprise. The Irish treat online gambling like something people do. Gambling is a pastime. It’s recreation. It’s entertainment.
It’s also licensed, regulated, and taxed. And as much as you might object to the state taking a portion of your wagering, the government’s involvement in the process means you are less likely to fall victim to fraud, theft, or any other form of cyber-chicanery online gambling might enable.
Speaking of licenses, any online casino doing business in Ireland must be licensed by the Irish government. We found that not only are online casinos duly licensed in Ireland, but many are also licensed in the UK—one of the most stringent gambling licensing jurisdictions in the world.
One of Ireland’s best attributes, at least in terms of its approach to online gambling, is that it considers gambling winnings to be nontaxable. Yes, it takes a percentage of each wager, regardless of who wins and who loses. But if you win, whatever you win is yours, and need not be shared with the Irish government. Unless, of course, you’re in a generous mood.
Ireland’s take on online casinos is surprisingly open and inviting. So what’s stopping you from joining the throngs of gamblers in Irish cyberspace? Very little. All that’s required of you is an internet connection and the wherewithal to wager. Oh, and you’ll need to be at least 18 years of age (the legal age for any form of gambling in Ireland).
If you like the newer 3D animated slot machines, you are very much in luck. Virtually every Irish online casino will have a huge selection of 3D games from industry leaders such as NetEnt and Thunderkick. Of course, you’ll also find industry stalwarts like BetSoft providing plenty of gambling action, as well.
And let’s not forget Microgaming. You’ll find the online gambling giant’s popular slots, table games, and video poker games well-represented at Irish online casinos. Even Red Dog, 3-Card Poker, and 3-card Rummy make an appearance.
Live dealer games, as well, enjoy a solid presence in Irish cyberspace, with industry leaders Evolution Gaming and Playtech leading the pack with live streaming. You’ll also find streaming newcomers like Ezugi—as well as some proprietary streaming software—on many sites offering live dealer action.
Of course, you’ll find the usual live dealer offerings such as Baccarat, Blackjack, Super6, and Roulette (both American and European versions) here. But you’ll also find live versions of Caribbean Stud, Casino Hold’em, and Dreamcatcher on many Irish online casinos.
Last but certainly not least, is the growing number of mobile versions of the same games once only available on your laptop. Slots, video poker, and even live dealer games are all there, just waiting for you to place your bets.
All Irish online casinos accept deposits in Euros, pay bonuses in Euros, and give withdrawals in Euros. The specific ways you can actually make deposits and withdrawals is phenomenal. Not only will you find the standards such as Neteller, Visa, Mastercard, and Bank Wire Transfer, you’ll discover that many Irish online casinos offer the additional options such as Skrill, ecoPayz, Trustly, Zimpler, Euteller, and Paysafe.
Conspicuously absent from many Irish online casinos, however, is the ability to make deposits and withdrawals using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Our research indicates that while cryptocurrencies are legal in Ireland, Irish online casinos either do not accept Bitcoin at all or accept ONLY Bitcoin.
Obviously, it’s still possible to deposit cryptocurrency into a bank account, and then make a deposit to an online casino from that bank account, but this can create unacceptable delays and—sometimes—unforeseen fees (not to mention exchange rates, etc.).
Our surmise is that since anonymity and Bitcoin go hand in hand, but anonymity and tax liability, not so much, Irish-licensed online casinos have opted to avoid the problem by simply refusing to accept Bitcoin.
As cryptocurrency becomes more widely used, however, it will more than likely become more acceptable to the majority of Irish online gaming establishments.
By now you’ve come to expect outstanding treatment and pleasant surprises from Irish online casinos. So why would that change with their various sign-up and reload bonuses? Spoiler Alert: It won’t!
Sign-Up (or Welcome, if you prefer) Bonuses regularly range from 100% to 200% in Ireland, and many casinos will throw in 50 or 100 free spins on their slots as part of the bonus. Naturally, playthrough (or rollover, if you prefer) applies before you can withdraw any bonus (or claim winnings on those free spins), so be sure to read the site’s terms and conditions carefully to make sure you understand that online casino’s process.
As we mentioned earlier, many of the same rules that make sense for other countries with access to online casinos are just as relevant to Irish residents.
Coming to Terms with Conditions
Always read an online casino’s terms and conditions pages thoroughly. Virtually every website dedicated to online gambling has them, and it is incumbent upon you to become familiar with those rules and standards by which your play and interaction with the site will be governed. The fewer surprises you encounter, the better. Also, you may learn that you don’t want to play at that particular casino for one reason or another. Hey, nobody’s judging you.
Gambling Debts: They Work Both Ways
It should be of interest to the Irish online gambler that gambling debts are not enforceable under Irish law. But what might seem like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card (if applied to your debt to the casino) will seem decidedly less acceptable when the casino refuses to pay out your winnings. Long story short: You can’t sue an online casino in Ireland to collect winnings it refuses to pay you.
Oh, you have some recourse. You can complain to the Minister of Justice and Equality, who must certify the online casino as “a fit and proper person” before the Irish government will renew its license. Yeah. We thought the same thing. We’ll be over here in the corner, holding our breath.
License and Certifications and Regulations, Oh My!
Unlike many other jurisdictions around the world, finding a licensed online casino in Ireland is not difficult at all. In fact, visit any Irish online casino, and you’ll be assaulted by the sheer volume of certifications, licenses, agreements, vouchsafes, and what-have-you the site can and will present to you.
Still, don’t take it for granted. Make sure your particular online casino is licensed, regulated, or certified. Check it out thoroughly. Usually, the site will provide a link to their various licenses as it appears on the official site of the licensing authority (Curacao Gaming, for example, or the Malta Gaming Authority).
More importantly, make sure the online casino is licensed to conduct business with Irish residents. If not, move on to your next choice. A company willing to ignore Ireland’s laws might be just as willing to exercise a certain degree of laxity in how it pays out winnings.
One of our perennial tips (and with good reason) is this: Before you play with real money, give play money a try. Free is always better than not free. If you don’t understand a game, playing free will keep the tuition you pay to the Kolledge of Gamblin’ Knowledge at a very reasonable level.
Additionally, you get to decide whether you like a particular slot, or a new video poker variation before you make an investment. Bear in mind that this applies more to table games, slots, and video poker than it does to live dealer action. The production cost of live dealer tables are prohibitively high, and most online casinos won’t offer free play at their live dealer tables.
You Could Be Walking Around Lucky and Not Even Know It
Let’s say you’ve played a slot machine at an online casino 999 times in a row and won absolutely nothing. You know the odds for getting three cherries in a row on this particular machine are, coincidentally, 1000 to 1. What are the odds, then, that you’ll win on your next spin?
How does 1000 to 1 sound to you? Because that’s what the odds are — 1000 to 1.
Don’t go blaming this on the random number generators (RNG, for short) online slot machines use to generate their outcomes, either.
A roulette wheel in Monte Carlo is as far from an electronic slot machine in cyberspace as you can get, and yet it operates in exactly the same fashion. Just because the odds say the ball will land on a particular number once in 32 spins doesn’t mean you should place all your money on that number once it has failed to hit for 31 spins in a row.
Psychologists have a name for this odd but very human belief that if something has not happened for an extended amount of time, it is somehow more likely to happen in the near future: It’s called The Gambler’s Fallacy (yes, they named this error in reasoning after us). Barring fraud or chicanery, odds are odds. Every time. Random gonna random. Every. Time.
The lesson to take away from this is simple: You could be lucky today. You could be unlucky today. If you have been unlucky today, stop thinking the machine is “just about ready to hit.” It isn’t. It’s actually no closer to winning than when you first sat down and began playing.
So quit and do something else. The blackjack table, that video poker screen, and the slot machine will all be there tomorrow. And one thing that DOES change over time is luck.
Journey’s End? Not Even Close!
And now we’ve reached the end of the road or the end of this article at least. Go ahead and visit the list of Irish online casinos we placed at the top of this page. Go on—you know you want to. Only a stepmother would blame you.
And one last thing: Good luck!