Active players: 695.000
Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse racing, casino games, lottery
Operator types: Betting shops, unlicensed online bookies and casinos
Designated authority: Department of Communities
Status: Unregulated for online gambling
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom created in 1921, following the partition of Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive has been the country’s devolved government since December 2, 1999, according to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement of April 10, 1998, that ended the Troubles. As the birthplace of the legendary football player George Best and football managers Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers, sports have a special place in everyday life.
In terms of gambling, the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985 is the current legislation. The country does not have a gambling regulator, as the UKGC's jurisdiction does not extend to the region. Therefore, the market is not regulated, and punters can wager on any Northern Ireland bookmakers they prefer, with Football, Rugby and Gaelic football coming up as the top sport choices.
Betting in Northern Ireland - 5 things to know
- Sports betting is legal under the “1985 Order”
- The legal age of betting at bookmakers is 18
- The country does not have an official regulatory authority
- No licenses have been issued so far for online bookies
- The prevalence rate of problem gambling in NI is 2.3% - 4 times higher than in England
Best bookmakers in Northern Ireland
Are you looking for the cream of the crop of Northern Ireland bookmakers? Good, because we have shortlisted the top-3, after thorough testing and living up to our expectations. Competitive odds, diverse markets and rich bonuses are on the menu.
Online betting Northern Ireland: The gambling law framework
Gambling became legal in Northern Ireland after the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985. “The 1985 Order” was based on Britain’s Betting and Gaming Act 1960, which was eventually replaced by the Gambling Act 2005. Even though the specific Act covers the other countries in the UK, it does not extend to Northern Ireland. “The 1985 Order” remains the country’s gambling legislation. There was only one amendment by the Betting and Lotteries Order 1994.
The current legislation is complex and obsolete, and it does not address online gambling. It also failed to establish an independent gambling regulator. So the courts and district councils are responsible for overseeing gambling activities, and the Department of Communities has the task of supervising track betting. Bookmakers should have a license from the Magistrates’ Courts to operate and accept on-course and off-course bets. Wagering in betting shops and online is a popular pastime. When it comes to online Northern Ireland bookmakers, you can go with a UK based or an international one, as they both accept NI players.
What you should know about Northern Ireland bookmakers
The legislation is unclear when it comes to betting options. You can pick from a vast pool of bookmakers licensed by the UKGC or not. There is no winning tax due to the unregulated market. Likewise, Northern Ireland football betting sites are subject to no fees for operating locally, giving them a huge incentive to NI punters.
One thing to be aware of is that there are no legal Northern Ireland bookmakers, so if you have a dispute, there is no authority to back you. Even the UKGC cannot do much since, for some complex reasons, it does not exert influence on the Northern Irish authorities. Still, if you choose a sportsbook of our recommended ones, you can rest assured that it is safe.
How to deposit at online bookies
The good thing is that the currency of NI is the Pound Sterling which is widely available in both British and international bookmakers. Therefore, you will avoid conversion fees, plus you will benefit from the ease of using your local currency.
Northern Irish punters' most popular deposit methods are credit/debit cards, bank transfer, Paysafecard, PayPal, and Skrill, Neteller wallets. However, it is worth noting that gambling with credit cards can be very harmful to problem gamblers. Therefore, members of the Legislative Assembly have proposed establishing a law that will ban the use of credit cards for online gambling, similar to the one that came into effect in the rest of the UK on April 14, 2020. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum also allow extra privacy but notice that you can only find them in non-UKGC sportsbooks.
Should you wager on Northern Ireland bookmakers
The current gambling legislation is becoming increasingly outdated since it does not reference online gambling, so it has not kept pace with the industry and all the changes surrounding it. According to the consultation on gambling regulation conducted by the Department of Communities between December 16, 2019, and February 21, 2020, revisioning the law is imperative.
So, what does an astute NI bettor does now? Whether you go for a British or an international bookie has ups and downs. The former have an unparalleled reputation, while the latter can give you better odds and more frequent bonuses. All in all, local punters can choose from various bookmakers Northern Ireland, and if you follow our guide, that can only be a good thing.
The complete list of Northern Ireland bookmakers
Having an unregulated market translates to many choices, but how do you not get overwhelmed by the info? A great starting point is to consult our list, which compiles all the Northern Ireland bookmakers, each one with a detailed review.
All forms of gambling in Northern Ireland are considered legal since the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985 came into effect. Nevertheless, the current legislation does not address online gambling activities, since it was established back in the 1980s.
We can notice several powerhouses operating in the country since UKGC bookies accept NI players. Betfair, bet365 & Mr Play are among the top choices as they have been in the game for years and have been tried and tested.
Going for a sportsbook with a UKGC license is the most significant guarantee you can have as they undergo an extensive certification process. If you opt for an international one, safety could be an issue. Choosing a sportsbook from our list saves you from such issues as we have tested them in credibility.
Unlike the mainland UK, you can bet with a credit card in Northern Ireland. However, since it could affect your credit score, it could be wise to look for alternatives. Wallets and cryptocurrencies (the latter only in non-UKGC bookies) are excellent options.