If you’re born and bred in Ireland then you’ll know that practically everyone in the country loves a flutter on the horses, football, rugby, or any other sporting event that may be going on that day. It’s almost like it is in our blood to want to bet on sports, but have you ever wondered where it all started? We’re going to look at the history and rise of sports betting in Ireland…
Where it all started
According to historians, there is some evidence that gambling in Ireland spans as far back as the Middle Ages! However, it wasn’t until the 17th and 18th Centuries that betting became a big thing for the Irish. This turning point ties in nicely with horse racing, which became more of an established sport around that time. Racing events, race meetings and proper regulations started to be put in place for horse racing around the 17th and 18th Centuries, which meant that many people gathered to watch. However, the Irish didn’t just want to watch the horses – they wanted to bet on them, too! However, gambling remained pretty much unregulated in the country up until the 1926 Betting Act, which established the first real rules and regulations around gambling and betting.
Gaming and Lotteries Act
The original betting act was set up in 1926 and revised in 1931, but it wasn’t until the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act that gambling was really pushed into the limelight. This act forbade casinos around Ireland and only allowed lotteries that were for charitable causes. However, a loophole in the law meant that private members’ clubs were set up around the country, giving an almost underground casino industry. While casinos and lotteries were frowned upon, sports betting was still a massive hobby in the country.
Enter Paddy Power
When you think of Irish bookies or casinos, there is one name that probably springs to mind – Paddy Power. Set up in 1988 by merging three Irish bookies, Paddy Power really bought betting to the forefront in Dublin and around Ireland. Instead of back alley betting shops, sports betting was now seen as something quite fashionable to do! Their quirky branding and Irish heritage have ensured that Paddy Power remains the biggest bookmakers in Ireland, and one of the biggest casinos in the world.
Betting on horses
So, why do the Irish still love having a flutter on the horses? Well, we’re the fourth-largest producer of world-class racehorses on the planet, and we have more horses per head than most other countries in Europe. We’re not even horsing around! With plenty of incredible racehorses and jockeys hailing from Ireland, it’s no surprise we have such a passion for betting on them once in a while.
The most popular sports betting markets in Ireland
However, it’s not just horses that the Irish love to bet on. In fact, horse racing is only the second most popular betting market in Ireland. What takes the number one spot? Football! Third is greyhound racing, fourth is gaelic football, and fifth is hurling. Turns out, our favourite betting markets are the sports that have a strong Irish heritage.
Sports betting has become a popular Irish pastime over the years, and it’s quite clear to see why. With the rise of online bookmakers and casinos, it’s thought that the betting industry in Ireland is set to grow and grow. After all, there is nothing like a good flutter, is there?