Irish Gambling Regulation: Reform on the Horizon – – Our News, Your Views

Irish Gambling Regulation: Reform on the Horizon

It is no secret that gambling is popular in Ireland. With its horse racing, private gambling clubs, online casinos, and national lotteries, how could it not be? 

The country is known for its lenient gambling laws and has had little regulation in place. As a result, there has been a recent uptick in gambling addiction, particularly since the start of the COVID pandemic. 

To address this issue, Ireland’s government has been in talks to introduce a new national regulator in 2023. This will no doubt lead to important reform across the gambling industry. But how will Irish citizens react to the enactment of such authority? 

The History of Ireland’s Gambling Laws

While regulations have been loose for a long time, Ireland does have some laws in effect to manage the different forms of gambling, which include betting, gaming, and lotteries.

The Betting Act of 1931, amended in 2015, has played a large role in governing betting. Though the term “bet” does not have a true legal definition in Ireland, the Betting Act associates it with the term “wager.” However, case law indicates that betting is based upon fixed odds against certain events and involves wagers and winnings. 

Separately, casino gambling and lottery play were addressed legally through the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. This law prohibited poker rooms and traditional casinos in Ireland. Over time, this led to the development of the ever-popular concept of a gambling club. These clubs are privately owned and typically require a membership. Their operations are also entirely legal, as are the operations of online casinos.

As for lotteries in Ireland, they are defined and governed through the National Lottery Act of 2013, the updated version of the National Lottery Act of 1986. This allowed for the legal sale of online lottery tickets and online gambling through sites like It was also through this act the National Lottery Licence was sold to a third party, allowing the Irish government to address economic issues.

Ireland’s residents and visitors have long enjoyed their gambling freedoms, which has contributed to the increase in gambling addiction plaguing the nation. The introduction of a new Gambling Regulatory Authority in the country’s gambling laws is expected to address this problem head on. Hopefully, it will do so with minimal negative impact on its gambling scene. 

The Rise of Gambling Addiction in Ireland

Despite the many guides and tips for responsible gambling, the normalisation of gambling in Ireland has led to the bigger issue of problem gambling across the nation. A report by the Health Research Board (HRB) shared in early 2022 stated that nearly half of individuals ages 15 and up had gambled in the year prior to the survey cited. 

Additionally, it was reported that 135,000 people living in Ireland have experienced gambling problems that have had detrimental effects. Young men and poor individuals are high on the list of those susceptible. 

Unfortunately, the restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to decrease gambling addiction. Instead, online gambling options became even more attractive, especially to younger individuals. According to recent research cited by Labour Senator Marie Sherlock, 61% of 16-year-olds in Ireland have partaken in betting, with 3,400 individuals under the age of 18 being identified as problem gamblers.

With the industry being somewhat unregulated and gambling addiction on the rise, government officials predicted the nationwide problem could only get worse over time, leading to plans to instate a national regulator.

What to Expect from New Irish Gambling Regulations

Published in late 2021, the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill indicates that the Irish government has large goals in mind to address problem gambling throughout Ireland. The resulting proposal of a national gambling regulator will allow for further focus on public safety in relation to all forms of gambling in the country. 

Likewise, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland will have many powers when it comes to the gambling industry. It will have control over the issuance and revoking of gambling licences, restrictions surrounding gambling advertising, the development of safeguards to prevent problem gambling and fraud, and more. 

The Future of Gambling in Ireland

What can be said for certain about the Gambling Regulatory Authority is that it will have a massive impact on gambling in Ireland. From a legal standpoint, this change is likely to be for the better, as it will directly address the steady increase of problem gambling in Ireland. 

Even more, it will allow the government to regulate predatory advertising that targets younger groups. That being said, with many years of specific gambling freedoms, how the people of Ireland will react will depend heavily on the actions taken by the national regulator. 


As the popularity of gambling continues to grow in Ireland, Irish officials must become more cognizant than ever of the future actions of the national regulator. With the country’s gambling scene being a hotspot for entertainment, the focus should be strictly on ensuring public safety and regulating predatory advertising. 

Though it isn’t clear how the citizens of Ireland will absorb this change, the existence of the Gambling Regulatory Authority could be beneficial for gamblers and gambling operators alike. After all, it will create a safer environment for participating in betting, gaming, and lotteries. 

Whatever happens next, one thing is for certain: the 2023 enactment of the Gambling Regulation Bill will create a ripple effect throughout the gambling community. 

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