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Online Casinos in Ireland, Bonuses and more
While the Emerald Isle of Eire may not be the biggest country in Europe, it continues to blaze a trail for other countries to follow when it comes to iGaming growth.
This may come as a surprise to some, but the fact remains that Ireland’s iGaming yield of €2 billion (£1.7 billion) recorded in 2017 accounted for an impressive 11% of the €17 billion (£15.2 billion) generated by the E.U. during the same period.
For those who know Ireland and the nation’s rich gambling heritage, however, the Emerald Isle has always sat at the forefront of innovation in traditional casino gameplay and sports betting.
It’s thought that gambling in Ireland even pre-dates the arrival both Christianity and the Roman Empire, with evidence for this existing in the form of ancient artefacts such as dice and glass beads.
Archaeologists have even discovered that so-called “bones games” represented the very earliest form of gambling in Ireland, creating a cultural influence that has grown significantly throughout the centuries.
However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the roots of what we’d consider being modern gambling practices began to take root, as Ireland’s largely agricultural population developed a natural affinity for horse racing and wagering. This period also saw a series of regulatory race bodies established, which in turn led to an increase in the amounts of cash being gambled.
Gambling in Ireland continued at pace throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, even during the occupation by the British. While the empire took a dim view of gambling houses in former colonies such as India, the Brits turned a blind eye to wagering in Ireland and were mostly ambivalent to the practice of sports betting.
In more modern times, we’ve seen the Irish gambling sector become increasingly well-regulated and diversified through the creation of national lotteries and similar verticals. In 1988, Ireland’s famous bookmaker Paddy Power also exploded onto the scene, quickly becoming a household name and continuing the nation’s love affair with sports betting.
Then came the digital revolution of the mid-90s, which has subsequently seen Ireland become an influential, progressive and deceptively large player in the iGaming market. We’ll touch more on this below while asking what you should expect when browsing the plethora of online casinos available in Ireland.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Ireland?
As with most developed nations across the globe, Ireland has introduced several updated gambling regulations and bills as the market has become increasingly digitised.
Like in the U.K., however, these legislative changes have helped to make online gambling in Ireland more prevalent while creating an infrastructure that has supported sustained growth and diversification.
One of the most significant changes came in the form of Ireland’s Betting Amendment Act of 2015, which was designed to update the Betting Act of 1931 and make this fit for purpose in the digital age while laying out clear guidelines with regards to taxation and licensing.
Now, while the letter of this law stated that commercial casinos were prohibited, very few of virtual platforms available in Ireland fit the definition laid out in the Betting Amendment Act. This means that there are many off and online locations through which players can access casino games, while both domestic and offshore operators can offer their services to Irish citizens.
It’s also fully legal for Irish citizens to wager online, across all available verticals including sports betting and casino gameplay.
How do we Review the Top Irish Casinos?
Despite a couple of complexities, the iGaming legislation in Ireland is relatively straightforward and supportive of a progressive marketplace.
With so many online casinos available in Ireland, however, how do you select the best one for you? Here are some of the metrics we use to help you make an informed choice:
Safety and Security:
Given the amounts now wagered online, it’s important that you select an online casino which boasts 128-bit SSL encryption as a minimum standard. We make sure that all of our casinos are secure and fully transparent, so you can protect your hard-earned bankroll at all times!
You’ll be entitled to a welcome bonus when registering with a new casino, with this promotion often taking the form of a deposit match and including a fixed number of free spins. Rest assured, we’ve reviewed each real-time welcome bonus so that you can compare the market and make an informed choice.
As one of the world’s most progressive iGaming market, Ireland offers players access to a diverse range of payment options. We’ll cover these in greater detail below, but our comprehensive reviews will let you know which deposit methods are available at each casino.
In Ireland, the vast majority of available payment methods currently allow for quick or instant withdrawals. Most e-wallets will execute transactions in real-time, for example, and this a key metric by which we appraise the performance of each online casino.
An estimated 40% of Irish players currently wager online, and this number is likely to increase further in the years ahead. A growing number of players now wager through their smartphone or tablet too, so we’ve reviewed each casino’s mobile capabilities and whether they operate an instant play platform or a native app.
Online casinos often live and die by their quality of customer support, whether they operate in Ireland or elsewhere. Our reviews detail the support options and channels available to players, along with response times and any common complaints.
Established Game Providers:
The iGaming world is chock-full of established and up-and-coming software houses, which enable casinos to build their expansive games’ libraries. We know which developers are featured on which casinos, so you can select a platform that suits your gaming preferences!
Licensing and Regulations:
We also publish details of the licenses that each casino holds, along with the jurisdictions in which they’re allowed to operate. We also touch on any regulatory measures that the casino is subject to, just in case this is relevant to your experience.
Playing with Real Money – What Currencies can you wager with at Ireland’s Online Casinos
Irish players are fortunate in some respects, as they can wager online using the commonplace and widely used Euro (EUR) currency.
It’s also possible to convert your Euros in pounds if you require, although you should always check the latest currency exchange rates before determining which option offers the best value for money.
The vast majority of Irish casinos also cater the players across the globe, which in turn affords you access to other currencies including U.S. Dollar (USD), Canadian Dollars (CAD) and Swedish kroner (SEK).
There are also several popular payment options available at a typical Irish online casino, including the following:
- Visa Debit
- Visa Electron
- Bank Transfer
Which Casino Games are Available in Ireland?
As we’ve already touched on, Ireland retains a close affinity with sports and horse race betting, and one that has existed since the 16th century.
As the industry has evolved and moved online, however, it has diversified at an incredible pace and now features many immersive verticals. These include:
Slots: Not only are slot games the critical driver of growth in the global iGaming market, but they’re also incredibly popular amongst Irish players. It’s also fair to say that there’s a disproportionate number of slots that boast a distinctly Irish theme, including Microgaming’s iconic Lucky Leprechaun franchise.
Table Games: Irish casinos also offer access to a vast range of table games, including everything from single-deck blackjack to multiplayer versions and American roulette. You’ll also find games such as Baccarat Pro in Ireland, so it definitely caters to classic casino players with a sense of nostalgia.
Poker: Although video poker remains may not be as popular as it once was, online casinos in Ireland boast a particularly broad range of games and iterations. These include favourites like All Aces Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em and Jacks or Better, along with other card games such as Pontoon Pro and Punto Banco.
Live Casino: Thanks to skilled developers such as Evolution Gaming, the live casino scene in Ireland is really thriving. There are many various real-time games available to players, including everything from Two Hand Casino Hold ’em and NetEnt Live Blackjack to Deal or No Deal and Lightning Roulette.
Popular Casinos Accepting Irish Players
OK, we hear you ask, but precisely which online casinos can I access in the Emerald Isle?
There’s indeed a wide range of choices available, from world-renowned casinos to newcomers that are just starting out. Here’s our pick of the bunch:
- Casimba Casino: while Casimba may not be the best-known casino name operating in Ireland, this has not stopped it from becoming a true market leader. Boasting more than 375 slots and a massive range of verticals, players can indulge their favourite pastime while also benefitting from a 200% deposit match welcome offer up to the value of €5000!
- 888 Casino: No list of this type would be complete without 888.com, which remains a true pioneer in the iGaming market having launched digitally in 1997. It’s now a true behemoth of the sector, boasting cutting-edge live dealer technology, eCogra approval and several proprietary games that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Dunder Casino: Despite only being launched as recently as 2016, Dunder offers one of the largest and most diverse games’ libraries imaginable to players. In fact, more than 1,000 titles are featured here, including everything from slots and table games to scratchcards and arcades!
Playing Online Casino Games with a Real Live Dealer
We’ve already touched on the popularity of live casino gameplay in Ireland, with even mobile players now able to compete for real-time prizes thanks to the inception of 5G technology.
This supports a reliable and consistent mobile Internet connection while empowering developers to create increasingly authentic and immersive live games.
This really helps players to embrace the essence of live gaming, which requires them to compete against an interactive dealer rather than a computer or basic gaming algorithm.
The live casino vertical is also more diverse than ever before, as it includes various iterations of classic games such as roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat and ever craps!
These games are also authentically paced and often benefit from 3D graphics, while the quality of audio also contributes to a truly immersive experience overall.
Casino Bonuses and Free Spins
We referenced the Casimba welcome bonus earlier in the piece, and this is indicative of how promotions in Ireland’s iGaming market are becoming increasingly generous as the competition between brands heats up.
The vast majority of welcome bonuses feature deposit matches of between 100% and 200% up to a specific value, while some may also include free spins for a select number of slots.
If you look at the Playzee casino, for example, players can access a welcome bonus of up to €1500 while also receiving 150 free spins within a limited period.
You may find that these bonuses are staggered across several different deposits too, while they will also be subject to specific wagering requirements (see below for more information).
What’s a Bonus Wagering Requirement?
Wagering requirements refer to the amount that you need to bet to release your bonus winnings into your main cash balance.
All online casinos in Ireland tag wagering requirements onto their promotions, with terms of between 30 and 40-times the value of your bonus typically applied.
This means that players who credit their new account with a minimum of £10 and receive a 100% deposit match will access a bonus with £20, which in turn will mean that they’ll need to wager between £600 and £1600 to access their winnings.
Players should also note that each game available online will count differently towards meeting their wagering requirements, depending on the terms imposed by operators.
Some games won’t contribute at all to your wagering requirements, and it’s essential that you understand this and review the available terms when plotting a course towards your winnings.
The Casino Market in Ireland
Overall, the gambling industry in Ireland caters to an extremely motivated audience, with 65% of people nationwide wagering at least once every year.
An estimated 18% of the Irish now gamble online, which is a little less than half of those who wager regularly. Intriguingly, 51% of this demographic gamble through a mobile device, which is why casinos are increasingly likely to bring out accessible native apps.
As if to reaffirm the strength and the sustainability of the iGaming market in Ireland, locals tend to gamble significantly more on average than their contemporaries in the U.K. The GGR per capita in Ireland is €44.50, for example, whereas the corresponding figure for Britain is just €34.50 (a difference of 20%).
This all contributes to a fast-growing iGaming yield in Ireland, which peaked at €2 billion in 2017 and will continue to increase going forward.
Online Casinos Gambling Rules and Regulations in Ireland
Following the War of Independence between the British and the Irish, the Irish Free State was established in 1922. This laid the foundations for the previously mentioned Betting Act of 1931, which stipulated that all operators must be vetted and fully licensed.
Currently, casino games and sports betting in Ireland are regulated by the Gambling and Lotteries Act of 1956, while the Betting Amendment Act of 2015 has also laid out updated guidelines with regards to taxation, licensing and best practice.
It’s the former pieces of legislation that allows casino gambling in Ireland, by enabling operators to identify as “private member clubs” rather than prohibited commercial casinos.
Interestingly, the Irish government is also expected to approve the publication of a new Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Bill for 2019, with a view to introducing a new regulator and provide more intensive support for those identifying as problem gamblers.