Gambling through time: a historical perspective on Irish gambling

Gambling in Ireland goes back longer than you might think. We look at gambling through time with a historical perspective on Irish gambling.

Gambling through time: a historical perspective on Irish gambling.

Believe it or not, the history of gambling in Ireland stretches back to ancient times. Plenty has changed over the years, so today, we’re giving a brief overview of the history of gambling in Ireland.

From ancient Celtic divination and games of chance to modern casinos and online betting sites, we’re taking a journey into gambling through time to offer a historical perspective on Irish gambling. 

A huge part of Irish society throughout the centuries, gambling has a rich and healthy history on the Emerald Isle.

With a penchant for chance and all things luck-related, people throughout time, from all across Ireland have tried their hand at betting in one way or another.

Curious to know more? Today, we’re taking a look at gambling through time, from ancient practices to modern-day gambling practices that are popular across Ireland today.

Read on to discover a historical perspective on Irish gambling.

Early Pagan gambling practices – tracing the history of Irish gambling to ancient times

Back in ancient times, many forms of divination, magic, and luck were hot topics.

Back in ancient times, many forms of divination, magic, and luck were hot topics among people in Ireland. Various games of chance were played by people all across Ireland.

With rich spiritual routes and many ancient Celtic practices leaning towards the divine, lots of people were fascinated by the role of luck and chance.

Ancient ceremonies included games that saw the rolling of dice carved from bones, wood, and stone that were believed to indicate the plans of the gods and reveal secrets about each player’s destiny.

Luck and fate were intertwined, and life’s occurrences were believed to be down to the will of unseen higher powers.

These games played with dice were believed to connect humans to these higher powers and build a channel of communication between the spiritual and human worlds.

When things started to change – the emerging colonial influence

Gambling through time: a historical perspective on Irish gambling.

When taking a historical perspective on Irish gambling, one of the most important things to consider is the impact of the colonial influence on the island from the 12th century.

At this time, King Henry II invaded Ireland to bring English rule. With that came an influx of English games such as poker, betting, and horse races.

All three gained popularity across Ireland. However, none more so than horse racing, with the sport still playing a huge role in Irish culture to this day.

From the 12th until the 17th century, the influence of colonisation continued to have a major impact on Ireland’s gambling landscape.

In order to generate revenue, colonial powers implemented gambling regulations and many inns and taverns were transformed into licensed gambling institutions.

The emergence of betting shops – a move into the modern era

Credit: Pexels/ Pavel Danilyuk

From the 20th century, betting shops started to appear across Ireland and were officially legalised in 1926. Offering a unique social experience, people across Ireland began to attend betting shops to try their luck, catch up with friends, and meet new people.

When taking a historical perspective on Irish gambling, it is easy to see how this shift has shaped the country’s gambling landscape that exists today.

In 1931, the Betting Act was introduced to bring into force specific rules surrounding how gamblers could place bets legally on horse races and sports matches.

These laws were brought into force to ensure responsible gambling, including age restrictions and specific governmental licensing laws. As a result, the gambling landscape in Ireland was forged in legality.

Gambling in Ireland today – the current gambling landscape

Gambling through time: a historical perspective on Irish gambling.
Credit: Pexels/ Anna Shvets

Now that we’ve offered a historical perspective on Irish gambling, we’ll take a look at the state of gambling in Ireland today.

Horse racing remains popular across Ireland, with many attending huge races as a chance to get dressed up, socialise, and try to win some money.

Sports betting, bingo and raffles, and private members’ clubs with games such as blackjack and roulette are also popular in Ireland today.

As well as bricks and mortar establishments, online casinos are also hugely popular across Ireland, offering people the chance to place bets from the comfort of their own home.

As a result, there are many online casino games that people love to play today, from the classics like roulette, poker, and blackjack to games with a more modern spin today.

Their popularity grew exponentially during lockdown, but their appeal shows no signs of slowing down or stopping as they provide Irish gamblers with the opportunity to gamble on the go.

Many are licensed and regulated by the Irish Revenue Commission, which will ensure you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable gambling experience.

Aside from horse racing, sports betting, and traditional casinos, one popular form of gambling in Ireland today is the National Lottery.

First started in 1986, people from all across the island buy tickets for every draw for the chance to win a huge jackpot prize. For just a couple of euros, participants can get a ticket that gives them a chance to win prizes reaching up to €20 million.

So, there you have it: a key look at gambling in Ireland through the ages. We hope this article has shed some informative light on how the gambling landscape in Ireland was shaped from centuries ago to the modern day.

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We cover articles relating to many activities. Some of our articles showcase gaming and gambling as activities. While we do not take money for bets or own any gambling venues, we feel it is important that our readers know the risks of such venues or sites that we may mention in our articles. Gambling involves risk. Please only gamble with funds that you can comfortably afford to lose. See our legal disclaimer for more info.

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