The gambling industry is one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors – and it’s certainly not slowing down in Ireland. According to national statistics, the country gambled a whopping €9.8 billion in 2019. Considering the population is just under 5 million, this works out to €379.51 per head.
As a whole, the gambling industry in Europe is worth €24.7 billion. Despite being one of the smallest European countries, this means that Ireland accounts for just under 40% of the continent’s total gambling revenue.
From casino online to gambling machines, this money is spent on a variety of different activities. Although it’s long been assumed that sports betting is the most popular form of gambling in Ireland, the statistics suggest that online services are becoming a top choice for Irish gamblers.
In this article, we’ll share some of the research to explain how the gambling industry is changing in Ireland.
What’s the Most Popular Form of Gambling in Ireland?
The €9.8 billion spend is roughly split into two categories:
• €4.7 billion was spent in casinos, on gambling machines, and on bingo. This includes online offerings such as live casino games and slots.
• €4.3 billion was spent on horse racing and other forms of sports betting.
• €808 million was spent on lottery tickets and scratch cards.
With the world of online gambling growing at unprecedented rates, it’s unsurprising that the highest percentage of Ireland’s gambling spend includes virtual casinos. This is indicative of a global shift towards the ever-accessible nature of online gambling – and with mobile gambling becoming more popular year-by-year, this statistic is unlikely to shrink.
How Have the Numbers Changed Over Time?
Back in 2014, just five years before the statistics were published, Ireland’s total spend on regulated gambling services was €6.9 billion. By 2018, it has grown to €8 billion. This shows that gambling is rapidly growing in popularity, perhaps due to the availability of online offerings.
Overall, Ireland’s gambling spend has grown by €2.9 billion in five years. If the industry continues at this rate, this means it could be drawing in a staggering €12.7 billion by 2024. To put this into context, that’s more than half of Europe’s total current gambling revenue – all coming from a country of under 5 million people.
What’s Next for Ireland’s Gambling Industry?
The Irish government is taking steps to ensure this increase won’t happen. It plans to update the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, a law that hasn’t actually been modified since the year it was created. Among its approved updates are the following amendments:
• Gambing machines can have a maximum payout of 50c
• People can place maximum stakes of 3c
These rules are an attempt to limit the popularity of gaming machines, which are often considered to be one of the most addictive forms of gambling. However, regulating online casinos will pose a challenge. Virtual offerings are notoriously difficult to regulate (partly due to the availability of off-shore sites) and Ireland currently has nothing about online gambling in its legislature.
As 2020 draws to a close and we await this year’s updated statistics, it’s clear that the world cannot afford to ignore online casinos for much longer. Whether it’s regulators attempting to make them safer or games developers looking for new opportunities, online casinos are a more pressing topic than ever before.