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How Much do Irish People Gamble on Sports Online?

Like many other nations, sports betting is very popular in Ireland, and Irish gamblers spend billions of Euros in Ireland Casinos every year, betting on sports games online. There are a number of cultural and historical reasons that Irish people in particular like to bet on sports of all kinds. Here we’ll take an in-depth look at how Irish people gamble.

The Irish Market

Many people assume that Irish gamblers are just like their counterparts in the UK. However, there are in fact a number of key differences between both markets that need to be appreciated. Whether you are curious about the market, or you have plans to launch your own online or offline bookmakers in Ireland, it helps to understand the unique nature of the Irish sports betting market.

Ireland is also the home of a number of the most renowned bookmakers in the world – businesses who provide services to punters from around the world. The most popular online bookmakers in Ireland are those that are run by traditional brick and mortar bookmakers. Therefore, most Irish sports bettors place their online bets through services like Paddy Power and Coral. 

The largest independent bookmaker in Ireland is BoyleSports and they also take a large number of the online sports bets placed in Ireland. They opened their first brick and mortar bookies in 1982 and have only gone from strength to strength since then, and their online component is now just as important.

The Law

Sports betting was first legalized in Ireland in the decades following their independence from the UK. The first gambling act, the Betting Act, was signed into law in 1931 and set the legal regulations for taxing Irish bookmakers. This was superseded by the 1956 Gambling and Lotteries Act. This Act facilitated lotteries and sports betting, but left a number of loopholes that put Ireland casinos outside of its reach.

These loopholes left the Act in dire need of an update – an update that it wouldn’t receive until 2013, with the introduction of the Betting Bill. This bill introduced much needed changes, including the requirement for operators to have the appropriate license, whether operating a physical or online booking premises.

Popular Sports

The Irish betting culture is remarkably different than that of the UK, and is quite similar to the US. Irish gamblers have little interest in the football that their British counterparts go crazy for. Irish punters prefer Gaelic football, a national sport of Ireland. In fact, Gaelic football accounts for around a third of all the online sports betting done in Ireland.

After Gaelic football, the next most popular sport in Ireland, both in terms of spectating and sports betting, is hurling. Hurling is responsible for a quarter of all the tickets to live sporting events sold in Ireland. For much of the year, the two sports are neck and neck in the competition for spectators’ affections. However, during championship season, Gaelic football receives more interest.

In third place is football, a tremendously popular sport throughout Europe. That is in spite of a relatively successful national team who has competed internationally at a variety of competitions, including World Cups.

The next most popular betting sports are the other usual suspects; horseracing and rugby union are both very popular sports to bet on, translating to a strong showing at both online and offline bookmakers.

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The Numbers

Ireland might have a relatively small population, but the amount of money that is spent per person on gambling is relatively high. Last year, the Irish gambling industry, including both online and offline platforms, was worth more than $6 billion.

There are some differences between online and offline betting habits in Ireland, which makes sense as we expect different groups of people to use different types of platform. So, while Gaelic football is by far the most popular sport on a country-wide level, it is horseracing that brings in the most punters to the online bookies. In fact, horse racing accounts for a whopping 70% of all the bets placed online.

The next most popular sport to bet on online is soccer, which accounts for 31% of the total bets placed. After those, both gold and Gaelic football contribute 15% and 23% each.

Online sports betting is one of the most popular forms of gambling available in the Republic of Ireland. While Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland, it is not the most popular sport to bet on online. That honor goes to horse racing, which is the most popular sport for Irish people to bet on online by a huge margin.

With 70% of the market share, horse racing is the clear favorite for Irish sports bettors online. Many incorrectly assume that the proximity and cultural similarities between the UK and Ireland would mean similar gambling habits. However, both markets operate in distinct ways and have just as many differences as they do similarities.


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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com