The first piece of gambling legislation in Ireland is the Betting Act 1931, which pertained to the regulation and taxation of on-course and retail bookmakers in the country. It was followed in 1956 with the Gaming and Lotteries Act coming into force, allowing sports betting and the lotto, but making casinos illegal. However, the law has a few loopholes, which enabled private clubs offering casino like facilities to operate. These clubs have thrived while large casino establishments have been unable to set up in Ireland.
On course betting and betting shops have boomed over the years in the country and there have been some widely-known stories of the battles between the punters and the layers with one man standing out as the biggest thorn in the side of the bookmakers in the last century: Barney Curley. The professional gambler spent years plotting ways to get one over the firms as betting on his beloved horse racing.
Though they remain very popular, there is one huge difference between the betting shops in Ireland and the UK: Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT’s), which are gaming machines allowing punters to bet on a dearth of slots, casino style games, and virtual racing. They have been widely criticized for being extremely addictive and damaging but account for the vast majority of revenue brought in by the UK firms.
There is significant weight behind a call for a reduction in stakes, strict regulation of these machines, and even a complete banning of them. Irish authorities are one step ahead of the game and their betting shops and bookmaking environment is much more centered on sports. As Northern Ireland is part of the UK, the rules are different and there are more than 900 FOBT machines in the country. But the legality of the terminals are now being called into question because no similar legislation was ever approved in Northern Ireland, even though under the 2005 Gambling Act, the FOBT’s were approved in Scotland, England, and Wales.
Since there has been criticism that the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 has been outdated, the government released the Betting (Amendment) Bill 2013, which requires remote to obtain a license in the country.