Sports Betting in Ireland 101
Gambling has been a popular pastime for centuries in Ireland. From the days of horse racing with both off and on-site betting to the more recent emergence of private gaming halls, there is no need to go very far to find a bookmaker or poker table that will let you play games of chance in a safe manner where you can rest assured that your winnings will land in your bank account within just a few days.
The Irish government welcomed reputable, licensed offshore online casinos which expanded the gambling market exponentially. By being supportive of online gambling, the government made a host of legal gambling services available to residents and curtailed the need for punters to trawl the dark alleyways of the internet casino virtual underground to place bets on live and recorded sports matches.
A good betting site gives you a world of options at your fingertips and can be accessed from the comfort of your couch. Whether horse race betting is your favourite flutter or you have a yearning for some international football, we source all the tools you need to make the right choice.
You are now able to place your bets on local and international games without ever leaving the comfort of your home as you predict the outcome of matches, who will score the winning goal, and take advantage of benefits and solutions. Just tap into a range of online casinos, betting sites and other gambling operators who offer their services to Irish players listed here for an exceptional experience with unsurpassed choice on a secure platform.
Are sports bets legal in Ireland?
Sports betting has been legal for many years and was thought to have been supercharged by the English influence in the 18th century and took the regulation of horse race betting to the next level. This tradition continues today with a great many strides made to regulate the market and protect players as they place their bets at land-based establishments and at online casinos.
1962 saw the introduction of the Betting Act, created to regulate the bookmaker market and establish a framework of rules to ensure businesses were operated ethically. From the inception of the Betting Act, each bookmaker was required to make an application for a gambling license that would be issued by the government, before being permitted to facilitate bets on horse and greyhound races.
The Gambling and Lotteries Act came into effect 30 years later to regulate betting services that fell outside horse and greyhound racetracks. This specifically addressed the private gaming hall, casino and National Lottery market to protect players as they played games of chance.
When online gambling became more prevalent, the government created the Gambling Control Bill to regulate casino operators licensed in other countries as a way to ensure that locals remained protected when playing casino games and making use of offshore operators.
What makes a good sports betting site?
Aside from a wide range of betting options, a good betting site will be safe, secure, independently audited and allow you to make payments in the banking option of your choice. It can be difficult to home in on a site that covers all the bases, which is where we come in.
After consulting the experts and doing our own research, we created a list of sites you know you can rely on. If we recommend a sports betting operator here, you know you can put your faith in their services, bet with confidence and rest assured that you will receive your winnings in a timeous manner.
Our reviews also give you a sense of the kinds of odds and percentages, bonuses and promotions and overall customer service experience you can expect. It goes without saying that these sites are fully licensed and have your safety top of mind as your protection is our first priority.
How is sports betting online different?
Making use of an online sportsbook gives you the convenience and safety of placing your bets online, rather than in person with your local bookmaker or bookie.
Aside from the obvious, like not needing to visit a brick and mortar business, it gives you the chance to place bets on the go, tap into better odds and offers you additional benefits like bonuses and promotional perks.
Sports betting online also leaves you with a world of options. Not only do you have access to every sports and possible bet available, you can also choose which site to visit that suits your needs.
What types of bets are there?
Some of the most common markets and strategies available include:
- Fixed-odds betting where you wager on the outcome before the match and get paid out following the pre-established odds.
- Live betting when you predict the outcomes, but the odds change as the game progresses.
- Total (over/under) betting predicts whether a specific score or value will be more or less than that specified by the bookmaker.
- Spread betting is where you bet on the margin by which the outcome will vary within the framework set.
- Parlay betting or accumulators which has you grouping multiple wagers into a single bet
Many other options are made available and are dependent on which sport you are betting on, but these are the most common.
Which sport is best for betting?
Given the international flavour that has been added by offshore online casinos for Irish players, the range of sports betting options available includes a selection of sports that are played all over the world.
With a selection of online betting sites that offer you the opportunity to place bets on any number of sports, placing your bets on local and international football games is available at the touch of a button. The football betting market in particular has several choices like:
- Which team will win, lose or draw
- Who will score the first goal
- Which player will score the most goals during the game
- Whether both teams will score
- What the score will be at half time
- And by the end of the game
In-play betting lets you place your bets while the game is on the go as you notice which team is having a better day, which player is on the verge of a yellow card and whether or not the game will turn in your favour as you predict the outcome.
While the Irish Greyhound Derby is a popular local event, the nature of online betting means that it is just one of many races you can follow and place bets on, including:
- The winning dog
- Forecast the 1st and 2nd finishers
- Predict which dogs will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd
The final round of racing is a culmination of many races and includes six dogs who race over 530 meters to determine the winner.
Horse racing takes place all over the world and is the original form of sports betting in Ireland. As with greyhound racing, there are some fun markets to choose from as you predict the outcome.
These races also offer accumulators that will have you at the edge of your seat as each win rolls over to become the basis of your next bet to correctly predict the outcome of a series of races that leads to a life-changing jackpot cash prize.
Hurling is another popular sports betting choice in Ireland with options to place bets on a pre-match, in-play and ante-post basis throughout the National League season, all the way through to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.
What are the benefits of placing sports bets online?
Online sports betting offers you the potential to not only hone your skills of prediction as you carefully consider the details you have at your disposal, but also monetise your hobby as you place bets and win.
When you add sports betting to a hobby, you’re already investing in things like supporting your favourite teams. Playing sports bets online can offer a great deal of excitement and satisfaction as you do your research and place informed bets.
Sports betting also has better odds than casino games since the bets are placed about live matches where real people with historical stats play games against their fellow players. Given the sheer volume of information available on teams, previous games, injuries and more, sports betting is a game of skill, rather than luck, as punters make logical deductions from the information available.
How do we select the best online sports betting operator?
For a sports betting site to make it onto our carefully curated list, we consider five main criteria before suggesting you give them a try.
After considering the selection of sports available, together with which leagues and games are available for bets, we register an account to find out how easy it is to place a bet, cash out, customer support and the overall user-friendliness of the website design.
Promotional offers like enhanced odds, bonuses and price boosts are a nice to have, but we prioritise your safety and security.
Features and promotions
As with online casinos, there is a great deal of competition as each website entices you to create an account with them rather than a competitor. Many online betting operators use promotional offers like sign up bonuses, price boosts, enhanced odds and other long term perks to help them stand out from the crowd.
Joining the loyalty rewards program or completing member registration can also unlock additional benefits like the ability to customise your bets and mixing and matching the various markets.
Safe and secure
Safety should be a priority when transacting online – which is why we only recommend reputable sports betting operators that are fully licensed and regulated by a recognised authority like the Department of Justice.
Licensed operators are subject to a list of stringent criteria that confirm their independent auditing to operate ethically and have verified payouts. The site should also feature bank-level encryption like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to keep your personal and financial details away from prying eyes.
As far as possible, we recommended websites where you are able to place a wide range of bets from football games, races, tennis games to golf tournaments to ensure you have the best possible sports betting experience.
Ideally, the website that offers a wide range of sports can be considered a one-stop-shop for all your sports betting needs. Of course, it isn’t always possible to place all your bets on one site – even just a few options are better than none.
To cover all the bases, we look for sites that offer:
- Football (Premier League, League of Ireland Premier Division, etc.)
- Horse racing, both local and international
- Tennis (Grand slams, such as Wimbledon, through to smaller tournaments)
- Cricket (Test, ODI and T20 cricket, among others)
- American Sports, such as NBA Basketball and NFL Football
- Rugby Union and Rugby League
Playing your bets should be fun and easy to navigate with as little frustration as possible. Aside from the graphics and layout, which should be pleasing to the eye, the site should be a breeze to use with every function set out logically.
The site should offer the functionality of placing bets on the go with a mobile responsive site that automatically shrinks to fit the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.
From the moment you sign up, the operator should ensure that the customer is their priority and make it easy to create a profile and login without any unnecessary delays and waiting periods. With a quick and intuitive process, the process should be simple enough for new users to navigate with confidence and have sufficient resources to support and inform players who may be trying sports betting for the first time.
How do I place my first bet?
While the betting process may differ slightly from one operator to another, the following steps should be available during the process:
Once you have created or logged in to your account, you will select a sports category. Depending on the category, league, event or game, you may have the chance to place a pre-match or live bet.
Now you need to select the betting market which covers your prediction of the outcome at half or full time, the score, total goals or any number of other options.
Each betting market selected confirms the available odds and is usually reflected as a fraction or decimal figure. The more specific you are with your bet, the better the odds.
Once the selection is complete, the betting slip may give you the chance to mix and match or manage your bets to your liking before you accept and officially lock in your bet.
As you become more familiar with the operator website, the process takes just a few minutes while you tweak the system to your advantage as you benefit from more competitive odds.
Top Sports Betting FAQs
Absolutely! Ireland is known for placing sports bets on horse and greyhound racing but is now able to also place bets on tennis, golf, hurling, football and more.
While your favourite bookie is still available down the road, placing a bet online gives you more choice and better odds as you place bets on matches and games that appeal to you.
Reading our reviews is an excellent place to start. Our recommended operators have all passed a stringent criteria checklist that makes them reputable, safe and high quality.
Once you’ve created your online profile, placing a bet is quick and easy as you select the betting market, pick your odds and confirm your stake. Then all that is left to do is sit back and watch your winnings roll in.