Despite the hundreds of different thriving industries in Ireland’s economy, gambling is one of the biggest, with over 6,000 people employed in gambling shops, and another 1,000 people involved in Head Office operations for massive multi-national organisations. Gambling has always been a popular pastime in Ireland but, particularly in recent years, we’ve seen an increase in gambling activity due to advances in technology. Today, those in Ireland have 24/7 access to online casinos, with endless betting opportunities available to them. Plus, Google is opening the door to even more opportunities via eSports betting. But how has Ireland’s gambling industry managed to become so popular?
Legalisation of Online Betting in Ireland
Gambling in Ireland has always been popular, but with technology allowing us to gamble and bet in the comfort of our own homes, online gambling has played a huge role in the recent increase in popularity. Of course, a huge step to the online Irish gambling industry’s popularity is the legalisation of the activity. In 2015, the Betting (Amendment) Act was passed, legalising online gambling in Ireland. Prior to this act, the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 was the dominant document governing all Irish gambling activity.
Ireland’s Most Popular Betting Market– Horseracing
As an island, Ireland is a largely rural area and another huge industry is agriculture. Because of the rural location, sports such as horseracing are enjoyed in abundance. In Ireland, there are 26 different race courses, including Curragh, Dundalk and the Thurles. Considering Ireland’s love for horseracing, it makes sense that it’s such a popular sport to bet on. Two different formats of betting have been created; to put it simply, you can bet on either jumps racing or flat racing.
Jumps racing, also known as National Hunt racing, involves a course that is divided by hurdles and fences, where the minimum height of hurdles is 3ft 6”, and 4ft 6” for a fence. There is also National Hunt flat racing, where younger horses can gain the experience of a race without having to complete the jumps. Overall, flat racing brings in the most money from Irish gamblers, and the horses used are the most expensive. Without horseracing, Ireland’s gambling industry would be nowhere near as popular as it is now. This is because horseracing is massively celebrated in Ireland as part of traditional Irish culture and many festivals, such as Down Royal Festival and Curragh Guineas, take place in the country across the year.
Subject to Irish Culture – Gaelic Football
You may have never heard of this sport before, and that’s because it’s unique to Irish traditions, giving Ireland an edge over all other gambling industries. Gaelic football used to go by the name of ‘Caid’ before English-speakers transformed it into Gaelic football in the late 19th century via the Gaelic Athletic Association. The game involved two teams of 15 players, with an objective of scoring by striking the ball over or under the opposing team’s crossbar. One point is scored by getting the ball over the bar, and three for getting it under.
Due to its long history in Ireland, Gaelic football proves to be a very popular sport in terms of attendance. But, in recent years, we’ve also seen a growth in betting activity surrounding Gaelic the football, further increasing the popularity of Ireland’s gambling industry. It’s suggested that dominating reason for this is the betting opportunities that Gaelic football offers Irish gamblers, including spread betting, adding a whole new dimension to the Irish gambling industry.
Emergence of Online Gambling in Ireland
Considering gambling was already a big deal in Ireland, online gambling completely changed the way the industry functions forever, with almost €14 million being spent in betting and gambling shops once online gambling was launched. Estimates suggest that 12 percent of Ireland’s adults gamble online, which is why gambling companies have formulated strategies to expand their businesses in Ireland in order to satisfy this large gambling market. Therefore, we can see some very prevalent competitors in the Irish gambling market:
1. Paddy Power: This competitor originates from Ireland and has a significant advantage over other competitors in the market, largely due to the fact that Paddy Power has become the majority stakeholder in Betfair LTD. Betfair and Paddy Power reached an agreement on a £5billion merger to help them remain the leader in Britain’s online gambling market. As a result, the online Irish gambling market grew extensively, as Betfair is an online-only betting company. Due to its power and Irish origins, those within the Irish community soon jumped on the bandwagon and helped push Paddy Power’s success.
2. Boylesports: Whilst Paddy Power might have the edge over Boylesports, this gambling organisation allows the Irish to get their betting fix. Both of these competitors manage to entice gamblers via sign up offers, with Boylesports providing newcomers with a €10 free bet for the first 10 bets you place. With these Irish companies taking the gambling industry by storm, it’s hardly surprising the gambling industry in Ireland has become more and more popular over recent years.
It isn’t just sports that many Irish gamblers are betting on either, with the US presidential election back in 2016 causing record wagering statistics.
Gambling Addiction in Ireland
Whilst there are plenty of statistics around to show how successful Ireland has been within the gambling industry, there are plenty that show its popularity in a scarier light. With so many gambling opportunities available to the Irish, it’s easy to lose control of your inhibitions and go crazy with your bets. In 2016, the amount of people opening up about a gambling addiction had increased by 6.5 percent, forcing people to ask the government for help on gambling regulations. There are now over 40,000 Irish individuals suffering with a gambling addiction.
Considering that standard sports betting and land-based casinos were securely drilled into the culture of Irishmen, online casinos only fuelled the popularity of casinos. Reports have been constructed by professionals within the field of gambling addiction, and it’s been strongly suggested that fierce regulations need to be put in place across Ireland to keep a restriction on those who lose control over the activity. Of course, it would be inhumane to remove such a strong culture from the Ireland, so new regulations need to only help those who’ve lost control, and not completely restrict them from participating in gambling activity after their addiction recovery.