Best Irish Online Casino Sites [2021]

Ireland is currently home to one of the best online casino markets in the world. Despite gambling legislation dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, Ireland have been slower than some jurisdictions in establishing commissions to regulate gambling. The consequence is that operators from around the globe can offer their casinos, relatively easily, to the Irish market.

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This has created a large and active casino market in Ireland. There are hundreds of casinos, ready for punters to try their luck. But while a competitive market is a good thing, each casino is constantly trying to stand out from the competition, it can make the choice for punters hard. There are simply too many casinos for anyone to try each one to find what they like. And even if they somehow managed that, by the time they finished they’ll find a load of new casinos will have opened and ones they have already tried will have updated and expanded!

This guide will help you understand how online casinos in Ireland work, giving you everything you need to know to about the Irish casino industry, online sites, and gambling to start narrowing down your choice from the many great casinos out there.

About online casinos in Ireland

Are online casinos legal in Ireland?

Like many countries, the vibrant gambling market in Ireland is down to a bit of luck. The piecemeal way that gambling legislation development in Ireland mean that it was simply not ready for the internet. The main laws predated the common adoption of the internet by nearly 50 years, and Ireland has never really had a tradition of physical casinos that needed regulating. This means the Irish government has been playing catch up. For a long time, the situation could, more accurately, be described by saying that online casinos were not illegal in Ireland because they simply weren’t covered by legislation.

Today the situation has been regularised a little. More recent laws require operators to have a licence, but this is given under the same framework as a physical betting shop. The Irish Government intends to create a body similar to the UK’s Gambling Commission, which might affect how casinos operate, but until then Irish gamblers can enjoy one of the world’s largest selections of online casinos totally legally.

Who operates online casinos in Ireland?

The nature of the online casino industry means that almost anyone who can afford to set up a casino can operate one. There are, obviously, some casino specialists who have moved into online delivery. Likewise, many well-known bookmakers have online casino offers, and the global nature of the internet means that some of these will be run by bookies that don’t have a presence in Ireland.

In addition, some casinos are operated by brands, who will use their logos on an existing casino platform to offer ‘their’ casino. Although most casinos will have some gambling related branding unique to the site, it’s not uncommon in other countries to have branded sites linked to things like newspapers and entertainment services, and these may also be available in Ireland.

Who creates the games and sites?

Although some big casino sites might have the resources to develop their own sites and games, most sites will license elements of their casino from developers. This might range from having someone else run the whole site. So-called white-label casinos are run by the developer with someone else’s logo — branded sites are usually run this way.

The most common option is to have a platform and then licence specific games from developers. This allows for the widest possible selection of games, since the operator can then pick and choose from all the developers out there, offering a better experience to their clients.

Many developers work this way, and if you look carefully, there are several names — like NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech — that you might spot as you bet.

How do online casinos work?

Online casinos are, actually, fairer than physical casinos because of the random number generator. The random number generator, or RNG, sits at the heart of any casino and basically produces the results of the bets. In regulated regimes, these are heavily tested to ensure that they are truly random and totally secure, so there is no way that the outcomes can be affected by the operator or hackers.

And while real casinos would not be dishonest, it is impossible for them to match the true randomness of an RNG. Whether it’s a dealer’s shuffling technique or minuscule imperfections on a roulette wheel, they will never quite match the truly random output that an RNG can offer.

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What do online casinos offer?

One of the advantages of online casinos is that they are not limited. One of the reasons that physical casinos have not taken off in Ireland is because of population size and distribution, which makes it hard for a casino to successfully operate in anywhere but the most densely populated areas. An online casino has no such restriction.

And online casinos have no problems with size either. They can keep adding games as long as people play them, without having to worry about where the table or the slot will fit. This means that whatever game you want, you’ll be able to find it in an online casino.

Online slots

Online slots are by far the most popular game in online casinos. These can be simple emulations of the traditional slot-machine, where you spin the wheel and hope that your symbols come up. However, most take advantage of being on a screen, without physical reels, so will be full of features and mini games that simply wouldn’t be possible in a real slot machine. Slots are full of innovation, and if they are your thing, it’s worth playing new slots often to see what the latest developments are.

If you like slots, it’s worth keeping an eye out for progressive jackpot games. While the typical pay-out on these games is lower than most slots, that’s because it takes a portion of each stake to add to a central jackpot pool. Because these are networked games, there might be millions of people playing across several countries, the jackpot can quickly grow to life-changing amounts. There are several people who have won tens of millions of euros after idly logging on for a few spins.

Roulette

One of the easiest, but also most thrilling, casino games is available online. The basics of the game are well known to everyone, you place your bet and the wheel spins. Online casinos will generally offer a choice of either English or American roulette. These are similar but, with two zeroes, there is slightly more risk in the American version.

Roulette often has a good social side as well, with a chat function so players can interact while the wheel spins and celebrate or commiserate each other’s fortunes once the spin has finished.

Card games

Online casinos will offer the range of card games you can find in real casinos. The most popular is probably blackjack, where gamblers try to get to 21 with their cards. Poker is also a popular option, and most casinos will offer the traditional five-card version as well as three-card, and stud poker, where the gamblers play against the house, rather each other.

Baccarat, which traditionally wasn’t popular in physical casinos, has seen a resurgence of interesting at online casinos. Since many online sites assumed it would not be popular, not everyone offers it, but more and more are adding it as an option.

Craps

These are less common in online sites but are growing. While a little complicated, it is a thrilling game to play and worth trying if your casino offers it.

Live dealer games

Many sites, especially the larger ones, are now offering live dealer versions of their most popular games. These have taken a while to take off, largely because the infrastructure of the internet meant it wasn’t really feasible to stream high-quality video. However, now most people have fast internet, even on their mobile devices, there are more and live dealer options available.

What to look for in online casinos

The problem with so much to do in casinos, and so many casinos to choose from, is that it’s hard to know where to start. Although one option is just to find a casino and give it a go, there are a few things that are worth looking for that will give you an idea whether it’s a casino best avoided or one that that’s worth a try.

Find a safe casino

The disadvantage of Ireland’s current relatively relaxed approach to online gambling is that it means there’s a risk that you find yourself playing at a casino run by an unscrupulous operator. This is a very real concern. The internet means that anyone could set up a site, and it can be very difficult to tell a scam site from a real one. However, there are a few things that you can look for.

One of the first is to see where else the casino operates and who regulates it. Although Ireland have yet to set up their gambling commission, if you play on a site that has a licence issued by another regulator, you can have some confidence that it is safe. The UK Gambling Commission is seen as one of the gold-standard commissions and requires operators to have measure in place to ensure the safety of gamblers’ cash, alongside regular independent testing of their games and systems for fairness and security.

There are several other regulators that will have a similar standard, such as Alderney and Malta. However, do not assume that all regulators are equal. Curaçao, for example, operates a system in which three separate bodies can issue licences, and they are not all as rigorous as you might hope.

Another thing to check is who tests and audits the sites. There are several ‘test houses’ whose job it is to check that casinos are operating properly. They will do this in different ways, from using mathematicians to analyse the RNG, to having people attempt to circumvent security measures to check they are robust enough. The best casinos will often be keen to advertise that they have been subject to such tests and will feature their test house logos alongside their registrations, so look out for names like eCOGRA, GLI and iTechLabs featured there.

What features to look for

Once you are sure a casino is safe, then the choice might largely be a matter of personal preference. There are lots of factors that might affect that choice, ranging from the style and personality of the casino to the choice of games and offers they have.

New casinos are opening all the time, so it’s worth shopping around, even if you are happy with a casino you are a member of at the moment. It also means that you can take advantage of new sign up offers. Almost every casino will have some sort of offer to entice new players, but newer casinos, that don’t already have a customer base, will often have some very generous deals. These are designed to get new players on board to test them out, and they can sometimes include no-deposit bonuses, essentially free money just for signing up. Looking for the best offers is as good a place as any to start in your search for a new casino.

Once you have signed up, try out your casino for a while. Take a note of the range and selection of games they have on offer. And try to notice how often they add new games and features, are they constantly responding to customer demand, or have they just set up a casino and seemingly forgotten about it.

You should also pay attention to the return-to-player, or RTP, of the site. Not every site displays this, but some jurisdictions require it, and some sites are voluntarily transparent about it. The RPT is, effectively, what you could expect to win if you played a long time. This does not mean that you, individually, will win with your short session, but it should reflect the stakes paid and winnings earned by all the players over time. For example, online slots typically have an RTP of 95-95%, so if your slot had an RTP of 97%, you might expect to win €97 for every €100 you bet. If you notice that another site has a different RTP for the same game, you might want to think about which site you use. These are sometimes displayed as a percentage or a number, for example 96% or 0.96. The closer an RTP is to 100% or 1, the more likely a win is.

Finally, think about the experience you have while you are using the site. We all have our own tastes and preferences, and even the best designed casino in the world will not appeal to everyone. But with so many options out there, you don’t need to settle for one that doesn’t work for you. So, whether it’s just the design that bothers you, or you feel the customer service is a bit lacking, give a different casino a chance to wow you.

Check casino reviews

You are not the first or only person trying to find a casino that’s right for them, so take advantage of other people’s experiences and read reviews.

We obviously think our reviews are the best in the business. They are totally impartial and written by industry insiders and experienced gamblers, they know what they are writing about and can help you find the sites that you might like. They will look at every aspect of the site, from signing up to taking out your winnings. And they will also look at the details behind the site, checking on the operator and their licence, so you get the full picture.

But whatever reviews you read, make sure they are independent and comprehensive: you can’t trust a review written by an operator, or where the reviewer hasn’t asked the basic questions about gambler safety.

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Getting started

So, you’ve done your research and found a site that you like the look of. What next? It’s time to get started.

First, check that offer

You might have been tempted in with a great deal. But is it really a great deal? It’s worth double-checking the small print before you take the plunge and hand over your cash. Every site will have some terms and conditions on the offer, and sometimes these terms and conditions are so strict that it might not be worth taking up the offer at all.

The most common offers are deposit matches. These are where the site will match your initial deposit, for example if you pay €100, they will ‘give’ you €100 extra. These will usually come with a wagering requirement; this means you will have to bet a minimum amount before you can access any winnings. This can sometimes be as high as thirty-five times your deposit, so you’d have to bet €3,500 before you could access the winnings. Casinos will often place time limits as well, so you might lose winnings deemed to be from deposit match if you do not withdraw them quickly enough. For occasional gamblers, this might mean you never see a cent of your winnings.

There might be similar restrictions on other bonuses. Free spins, for example, might mean that you must pay for additional spins to get your winnings. While this might not be a problem for most people, if you aren’t interested in slots, you might not want to have to spend money on them to get your cash.

Signing up for a site

Casinos are keen to sign up as many players as possible, so they will make the sign-up process as easy as they can. However, you will have to go through the process of registering and proving your identity.

The checks that casinos need to perform will depend on their regulator, but at a minimum, they will need some proof that you are old enough to gamble, and that you are who you say you are. This means that you will have to provide personal details including your address and date of birth and, usually, some recognised form of identification. In some cases, there may be further checks, for example some jurisdictions have self-barring programmes, where people who think they may have a problem can effectively ban themselves from signing up to gambling sites, requiring time for an additional check.

Depositing some money

Again, casinos are keen for you to play, so they will make it easy for you to deposit some money. Most will require a minimum deposit, although this is usually a small amount, €10 or €20, but you might want to maximise the benefit of a deposit match if you have got a good offer. And how you pay will, largely, be up to you.

Debit/credit card

Like almost every website, most casinos will allow you to pay by a card, but the type of card might be a factor. Credit card sites cannot be used on UK-registered sites following a ban by the Gambling Commission. So, if you are playing a UK site, you will be limited to debit card payments. Casinos from elsewhere can accept credit cards, although many jurisdictions follow the UK’s lead, so credit cards may be less of an option as time passes.

eWallets

eWallets are a very popular payment option for all types of gambling, not just casinos. A consequence of this is that on many casino sites it’s the quickest and easiest way to make and receive payments. Although PayPal is the world’s best known eWallet, Skrill and Neteller tend to be the most popular options among gamblers.

Phone payments

Many sites offering phone payments now. Recognising that many people are playing on their phone, and with mobile networks offering payment services, which they recover through the monthly bill, this option is increasingly offered and becoming more and more popular.

Bank transfers

Historically, bank transfers were commonly used to top up casino accounts and receive payments. However, these have become less popular as easier alternatives have come to the fore. Many casinos still do offer bank transfers, but it is starting to disappear as an option and sometimes attracts fees.

Bitcoin

Although still comparatively rare, the increasing awareness of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general has led some casinos to start offering it as an option. Although there is none of the anonymity that Bitcoin usually offers — because you will have verified your identify for the account — if you are keen to use Bitcoin for transactions you might find your casino offers it already or will be offering it soon.

Withdrawing money

Once you have set up your payment method, withdrawing money should be simple. Many casinos will require you to withdraw using the same method you paid. This is often down to money laundering regulations, most European, casinos, for example would need to you to withdraw at least as much as you have gambled to the initial payment method, before letting you pay additional winnings elsewhere.

In general, the process will be simple. There’s no need to claim winnings, these will just be added to your account, so you simply need to request a payment and, if you have a choice, indicate where it needs to be paid.

Most payments will be made quickly. Since there is a lot of competition between sites, each will want to offer the best service it can. Traditionally, payments to eWallets were the quickest method, and one of the reasons why they were so popular with gamblers. However, other methods have improved their payment times, and it’s common now that, whatever method you use, you can expect a payment that day.

If you find your casino is a little slow in paying, it is worth asking yourself why. In some cases, it might just be poor customer service, but in others, it might be a cynical attempt to keep hold of your money, hoping that you’ll gamble rather than wait to withdraw. Remember, your winnings are your money, so there’s no reason a casino should keep hold of it any longer than they need to.

Fees and limits

Depending on how and where you gamble, you might come across fees and limits that affect how you deposit and withdraw money. These might be in place for different reasons and depend on the gambling registrations the casino has and the legal restrictions it has.

Generally, there shouldn’t be any fees or taxes using online casinos in Ireland. The money you pay in, and the winnings you receive, are all tax-free. Any suggestion by a casino that they must deduct tax should be a big warning sign about that casino. However, casinos can charge fees.

Casino fees

By and large, most major casinos will be fee-free. Although they will incur a cost for some transactions, for example card fees or banking charges, they absorb these into their running costs. However, there are some cases where fees might be charged. A common one is rare payment methods. If they find that payments are not used often, they might charge a fee, partly to avoid having to pass the cost on to other players, and partly to discourage that method.

There are, however, a few casinos that routinely charge fees. These will almost always be on withdrawals. It’s hard not to be cynical about a casino that won’t charge a fee to take money from you but will charge to give you your money back. If you find a casino like this it’s almost certainly best avoided, and there’s a good chance that when you read the small print of their bonus offer, there are lots of catches in that too.

Casino limits

There are three main reasons why you might find that you are limited on how much you can deposit or withdraw from your casino: to protect problem gamblers, to meet institutional restrictions, and to comply with money laundering regulations.

Many casinos will have deposit limits in place to protect problem gamblers. These can be required by their regulator or voluntary, and the general idea is to prevent people from spending money they can’t afford in a casino. For most people this will not be a problem, they will be able to control their gambling and never attempt to put in enough to breach a limit. If you are a high roller, though, you might need to consider if your casino’s limits are enough, and if not, if there is a way around them.

Both deposits and withdrawals might be limited by the financial institution the casino has partnered with. Just like there are daily ATM limits, there are frequently transfer limits. Again, for most people this is unlikely to be a problem. If it is, you can look at other payment methods. Again, eWallets gained some of their popularity with gamblers because they typically had higher limits than were available through banks.

Finally, casinos may be restricted by money laundering requirements. Just like the restrictions that mean winnings must be paid using the same method the stake was paid, there are frequently restrictions on moving large amounts of money, especially if they are winnings. While it’s a nice problem to have, it can be frustrating if you have to make daily visits to the site to withdraw your cash bit by bit!

If you do have a problem with limits, it is worth contacting the casino’s customer services teams. Depending on the reasons for the limit, they can often help by getting a special payment authorised and arranged.

What’s the best way to access online casinos?

The short answer is whatever way you prefer. Modern casinos are designed to be used on any number of devices, providing a high-quality experience on each. So, it shouldn’t matter if you are welded to your phone or dedicated to your desktop, the experience will be the same. There are, however, a few things you might want to consider.

Look out for apps

Most people access online casinos via their websites, but many of the biggest casinos also have dedicated apps you can download from your app store. These will still be the same casino, but because it’s in an app, they can have enhanced features that make play better or easier. And, sometimes, you might get a little bonus for downloading the app.

Think about screen size

Although most developers adopt a mobile-first approach to design, making sure the site looks great on a phone because that’s how most people access the internet now, many prefer bigger screens for casinos. In fact, it will be exactly the same site on a widescreen monitor as on your phone because of what’s called responsive design (try resizing a website window on your desktop to make it narrower and notice how the layout changes with the width), but on bigger screens you can see more information and features with less scrolling.

Top tips

Safety first

The most important thing to check is that you are using a reputable casino. Although there is little Irish regulation, looking for a casino that is licensed by a reputation commission will mean there are safeguards in place for the gambler. You might be tempted by great odds from casinos in exotic destinations, but if something goes wrong, it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.

Sign up for accounts with different sites

When there are so many sites to choose, why settle for just one. Sign up with a few casinos and always look around for new sites and offers. Being on different sites means that you can keep an eye out for things like new games, making sure you are always getting the best you can from your casino.

Remember nothing is guaranteed

There’s no such thing as a sure bet, the RNG will make sure of that. So, when you are on different sites, make sure you note the RTPs to be sure you are playing on the one with the best odds. And if you are looking to win big, try to find games that are not purely games of chance. Those games that involve a little skill, if you are good at them, can help tip those odds in your favour.

Try everything

Although you might think you know what you want to play, it’s worth trying out new games, especially if you have an introductory offer. Test out games to see if you enjoy them. You never know, you might just discover a new favourite!

Check back here often

Finally, although you will be enjoying your casino, remember to check back here when you can. We will have the latest news and reviews, as well as highlighting the best current deals and offers, so you can make sure that you always know what’s happening and what the best online casinos in Ireland are.