Casinos in Ireland have been illegal since 1956, however the law does allow for members only gambling clubs. These clubs have no membership fee, so becoming a “member” is purely ceremonial and arbitrary; essentially these gambling clubs are what most people picture when they think about casinos, just with a different name and legal status. There are twelve gambling clubs in Ireland, seven of which are located in the capital.
Over the last decade or so, online casinos and gambling sites have become very popular among the gambling community of Ireland. So much so that it is estimated that Irish gamblers spent €9.8 Billion in 2019. Many of the online sites that can be found in the United Kingdom also, such as Betway, Casumo or LeoVegas. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority (if not all) of Ireland’s gambling clubs have been forced into temporary closure. However, the online casinos like Irish casino Betfree have been able to stay open and operational throughout the lockdowns; this means that the public have been able to continue gambling in spite of the restrictions. This could mean that when the casinos can eventually open in the long term, whenever that may be, they might not be able to maintain the same number of customers that they had prior to the shift to an almost totally digital world. It is easy to see why the online casinos have become incredibly popular, due to the aggressive marketing of online gambling sites as well as their enticing betting offers and convenience; you don’t even need to leave your house to log into these sites, as oppose to travelling into the town and then back again to go the casino. Overall though, we will have to wait and see how the casinos bounce back from the lockdown closures.
Fitzwilliam Casino and Card Club
The Fitzwilliam Casino and Card Club is situated in the centre of Dublin, it is however a smaller club than what one might expect. It only offers 4 slot machines and 5 game tables. This casino is one of the premier sites in the entire country, hosting a large variety of tournaments and cash games every night of the week. Membership to the gambling club is open to anyone over the age of 18, including tourists only staying in Dublin for a short period of time, you can even apply for membership online via their website. It has what they describe as a “unique and friendly atmosphere” with grand décor similar to the casinos one might see in the movies, but right in the heart of Dublin.
Caesar’s Palace is a casino in Galway, not to be confused with the more famous Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. This casino has a 200-seater bingo hall which is open every day of the week (it is currently closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic) as well as over 250 machines at the disposal of the customer. They also offer 3 levels of membership: Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Each one offers members only discounts among other benefits, which increase as you move up the levels of membership.
The Sporting Emporium is a medium size casino in Dublin which opened in 2005, being backed by entrepreneur Dermot Desmond. The membership fee is €25, and they offer 14 poker tables as well as 6 roulette tables and a wide selection of slot machines. The casino also has a strong focus on sports, as the name suggests, and it is possible to sit back and watch some of the big games or races while you have a break.
Westbury Casino Club
The Westbury Casino Club is situated in Malahide, just north of the Dublin Airport. The club is over 30 years old and offers a variety of slot machines as well as the casino staples of poker and blackjack etc. They also offer games of pool as well as snooker on professional grade tables. They hold daily tournaments and cash games across the floor.
Macau Sporting Club
The Macau Sporting Club is in Cork, but it rivals the luxury casinos found in the capital. In addition to the usual games one would find at the casino, this club has a focus on sports, offering a great place to sit and watch the big late night sports events from America. They also offer group deals for nights out, as well as corporate deals for company bookings. Moreover, they offer luxury food which you can take from table to table. Membership is free.