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Betting in Ireland

Published on: 01/02/2016

Betting in Ireland has evolved over the years with the introduction of the internet and advancements in telephony, however the nations gambling industry is still restricted to some extent by a law which was passed in the early nineteen thirties.

The IBA (Irish Bookmakers Association) states that gambling shops must close for business no later than 6.30pm, from September through to February. The controversial law continues to cause controversy as betting via the internet and telephone is available outside of the 6.30pm timescale. As a result, gambling shops struggle to make a living during the restricted months and jobs within the industry have effectively become strictly seasonal. However Ireland’s sportsbooks have still managed to be very successful elsewhere in the world.

Ireland’s biggest sportsbook known as Paddy Power began in the late eighties. The established gambling company continues to open new venues overseas, most notably in the North of England and London.

Paddy Power has become very popular because it offers a vast range of sports betting opportunities, and has attracted further attention by occasionally paying out winnings before an event has ended. This has caused friction with other members of the gambling industry and controversy in the media.

A prime example of Paddy Power’s controversial practice occurred in 2008, when they decided to pay out on all bets predicting the relegation of Stoke City FC from the Premier League after just one game of the season had been played. Many people connected with Stoke City FC expressed their annoyance towards the sportsbooks business approach.

Despite the criticisms, Paddy Power continue to be a very popular choice. The company is not far from overtaking gambling giants such as Coral, William Hill and Ladbrokes in the U.K. market.

Citizens in Ireland are mainly interested in betting on horse racing, rugby union and Gaelic football. Ireland boasts 26 horse racing tracks with meetings happening on most days of the year. The country hosts many famous events which attract great interest and revenue. The Bellewstown horse racing track became renowned for being the venue of one of the most famous gambling scandals in history. In the summer of 1975, business man Barney Curley made over 3000,000 which today would equate to more than 1.5 million by organising a betting coup with a horse called Yellow Sam.

Curley bought Yellow Sam and intentionally raced him in less favourable events and in bad conditions to gain a false handicap score in advance of a race at the Bellewstown track. On the day of the event, Yellow Sam had odds of 20/1 but Curley was certain the horse would win. He arranged for vast quantities of money to be placed on Yellow Sam at various betting shops. The betting shops were unable to alert the race course as a friend of Curley’s occupied the track’s only phone line by making a long call to a family friend. The notorious scam has not damaged gambling in Ireland by any means and horse racing is revered and enjoyed to this day.