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Features of the Best Betting Sites in Ireland
At SBO.net, we have reviewed hundreds of sports betting sites that accept Irish punters. When conducting our reviews, we look at everything from the range of sports you can bet on to how long it takes for withdrawals to be processed.
After reviewing so many sites, we realised that the best Irish betting sites have several features in common. If a site doesn’t have the following features, we simply can’t give it our seal of approval.
Irish Betting Sites vs Retail Betting Shops
With more than 800 retail betting shops dotted across the Emerald Isle, we’re willing to bet that you live within a stone’s throw of at least one or two. Betting shop signs for industry giants like Paddy Power, BoyleSports and William Hill are commonplace in virtually every high street in Ireland.
However, there are numerous reasons why millions of punters are now placing their bets at Irish betting sites instead of retail betting shops. The main pros and cons of betting online versus in person include:
- Convenience – You can access Irish betting sites anytime, anywhere. Whether you’re watching a match over a pint of Guinness in your local or from the comfort of your own home, you can quickly log in and place your bets. There is no need to travel or join a long queue to submit your betting slip.
- Free Bets – When was the last time you walked into a betting shop and received a free bet? Online bookmakers roll out the red carpet for new customers by offering free bets and deposit bonuses. You will also receive special offers long after your first deposit to reward you for your continued loyalty.
- Better Odds – The best betting sites for Irish punters offer greater odds than their retail counterparts. This is because hundreds of sites compete for your business online, whereas only a few retail betting shops are in competition with each other in your local area. Benefit from better odds by betting online.
- Availability – Retail betting shops are only open for a limited number of hours per day. In contrast, online betting sites are available 24/7 – even on Christmas Day. It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day, you can easily add selections to your virtual betting slip and click the confirm button to lock in your bet.
- Social Interaction – The main reason why some punters prefer retail betting shops over Irish betting sites is to interact with others. You can discuss your bets with other people and receive tips. Yes, you can chat to others online via forums, but it simply isn’t the same as speaking to other punters in person.
What Sports Are Popular for Betting in Ireland?
Ireland really has its own identity when it comes to sports. Residents of the Republic of Ireland enjoy a whole host of different events, including:
Best described as a mix of football and rugby, Gaelic football is the national sport of Ireland. It has been played in the country for several hundred years and is by far the most popular sport on the Emerald Isle. Gaelic football accounts for over a third of total sports attendances in the country, with over 2,200 GAA clubs spread across the 32 counties of Ireland.
The All-Ireland Men’s Senior Football Championship is the premier competition in Gaelic football. It has been contested by the top male inter-county football teams in Ireland since 1887. The winning team receives the prestigious Sam Maguire Cup. Kerry has been the most successful team to date with 37 titles, but Dublin has dominated the competition since 2015 with five titles on the bounce.
Another event native to Ireland is hurling – a sport which accounts for around a quarter of all attendances at live sporting events. The game has prehistoric origins and has been played for over 3,000 years. Each player has a hurley (a wooden stick) and the aim is to hit the sliotar (a ball) between the opponents’ goalposts, either over the crossbar, or into the net which is guarded by a goalkeeper.
Hurling is an incredibly fast and exhilarating sport, and although it hasn’t taken off significantly elsewhere in the world, it remains passionately supported in Ireland. Twelve teams compete against each other in the annual the All-Ireland Championship for the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Kilkenny is currently the most successful county in the championship’s history with 36 titles.
As a spectator sport, horse racing is huge in Ireland. Some of the best racehorses, most talented trainers and biggest breeding operations in the world are nestled in the Emerald Isle. The best jump jockey of all time, Tony McCoy, calls Northern Ireland home, and the passion of the Irish is there for all to see every year when thousands make the trip over for the four-day Cheltenham Festival in England.
Ireland itself is home to 26 racecourses. Dating back to 1869, Ballybrit Racecourse is one of the most culturally iconic sporting venues in Ireland. It plays host to the Galway Races on the last Monday of July every year. Other major races on the Irish racing calendar include the Irish Derby, the Irish Champion Stakes, the Irish Oaks, the Irish 1,000 Guineas, and of course, the Irish Grand National.
In addition to the country’s two national sports, football is extremely popular in Ireland. The League of Ireland isn’t the best in terms of standard, with most of the top grassroots players moving to England or elsewhere abroad due to the financial incentives. Roy Keane, Damien Duff and Shane Duffy are three of the many Irish players who have graced the English Premier League since its inception.
The League of Ireland was founded in 1985 and features 10 teams. Dundalk boasts the most championships with eight, including back-to-back wins in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Ireland’s national team has qualified for the World Cup and European Championship on three occasions each. It would have been four World Cup appearances had Thierry Henry not ruined Irish dreams with his infamous handball in a 2009 play-off match against France.
Other Sports the Irish Love to Bet On
Cricket – Known as the Men in Green, the Ireland cricket team participates in all three major forms of the international game. With big hitters like Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie, Ireland has enjoyed plenty of success in Twenty20 International (T20I) matches in recent years.
Golf – With approximately 350 18-hole golf courses in Ireland, it should come as no surprise that golf betting is extremely popular amongst the Irish. Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are two of the many golfers who have secured wins on the PGA Tour.
Greyhound Racing – Irish punters love a night out at the dog tracks, especially Shelbourne Park when it’s time for the Irish Greyhound Derby. This prestigious race is considered one of the “Big Three” in greyhound racing, with sponsorship from bookmakers guaranteeing a six-figure prize for the winner.
MMA – MMA betting has exploded in popularity in Ireland in recent years, thanks to the success of Conor McGregor. He walks to the Octagon to The Foggy Few, an Irish folk ballad, and became the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight divisions simultaneously.
Ireland’s Sports Betting Laws
The Betting Act 1931 was the first piece of gambling legislation in Ireland and pertained to the regulation and taxation of on-course and retail bookmakers in the country. It was followed in 1956 when the Gaming and Lotteries Act came into force. This act allowed sports betting and the lotto but made casinos illegal. However, with a few loopholes in the law, it enabled private clubs who offer casino like facilities to operate. These clubs thrived whilst large casino establishments were unable to compete.
Following criticism of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 being outdated and not fit for purpose in the digital age, the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 was drafted. This forced online bookmakers to seek approval for a remote operating license even if they didn’t have an office in the country. Betting sites that target Irish punters without a license are slapped with a €150,000 fine that can be doubled for repeat offences.
Further changes are on the way for Ireland’s gambling industry in early 2021 after the Irish Government announced that it will be forming its own gambling regulator. This will likely result in licensed bookmakers having to have a physical presence in the country, even if they hold a remote license in accordance with Betting (Amendment) Act 2015.
History of Sports Betting in Ireland
On-course betting and betting shops have boomed over the years in Ireland and there have been some famous stories of battles between the punters and the layers. One man stands out as the biggest thorn in the side of the side of the bookmakers in the last century – Barney Curley. The wily professional gambler spent years plotting ways to ‘get one over’ the firms when betting on his beloved horse racing, and some of his coups have gone down in folklore.
Although they remain very popular, there is one distinct difference between the betting shops in Ireland and the United Kingdom; Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). FOBTs are gaming machines on which punters can bet on a dearth of casino games, slots and virtual racing.
They have been widely criticized for being extremely addictive and damaging (customers are able to bet significant sums of money very quickly) but accounted for the vast majority of revenue brought in by UK firms before new limits were introduced. Irish authorities have remained one step ahead of the game, banning FOBTs in 2013.
Ireland Betting FAQs
You will be spoilt for choice when you bet online because the world’s leading bookies all welcome Irish punters. To help you find the cream of the crop in the blink of an eye, we have created a list of best Irish betting sites. These sites are renowned for dishing out free bets and offering countless in-play events.
Absolutely! The Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 means that any operators accepting bets from Irish punters are subjected to licensing and taxation regardless of whether they have a physical presence in the country or not.
Of course! New betting sites spring up all the time, and virtually of them accept Irish punters. These sites offer extremely generous promotions and competitive odds in a bid to compete with more established sites. If there is a new betting site worth knowing about, you can rest assured that we’ll let you know.
No, Irish punters are exempt from paying any tax on their sports betting winnings. Even if you’re a professional punter, you won’t have to pay tax because betting is classed as a hobby rather than a trade.