Gambling is big business in Ireland – Dublin in particular. But then it’s always been a country that likes a punt on all kinds of sports, from horse racing to Gaelic football. The nation’s gambling sector is set to expand as a consequence, with some analysts predicting that the country gross gambling yield will reach €280 million by 2020.
But while the industry is growing at an incredible rate, the laws that govern it don’t seem to be keeping pace. Some Ireland’s gambling legislation dates as far back as the Betting Act of 1931 and even the government itself has admitted it needs to review its laws. Thankfully, official steps have been taken to bring the laws up to date. This includes the introduction of an official regulator to oversee all aspects of the industry.
Despite the legal nature of gambling being in question, online gambling has started to emerge as a rival to land-based venues – which some believe may become redundant as a result. This is particularly the case in the UK, where it helps bring in over one-third of total gambling revenue.
These days, players can get an authentic gambling experience on the web, where the casino games are better, faster and more immersive than ever before. All players need to do is head to leading online operators like 777 online casino and they can have a flutter on a huge range of exciting games, anytime they like.
Even though, on the face of it, casinos are illegal in Ireland, there’s a very large loophole that permits gaming in private members’ clubs. It’s estimated there are around 20 of these in Dublin, making it a fantastic place for anyone who enjoys a casino experience. Here are three of the most famous and popular examples.
The Sporting Emporium
If you’re looking for what many people believe to be the best casino experience in Dublin, head to The Sporting Emporium. It’s undoubtedly one of the city’s most prestigious casinos bringing more than just a touch of Vegas and combining it with its own unique sense of style.
The Sporting Emporium first opened its doors 14 years ago, in 2005, and is owned by the high-profile Dublin businessman Dermot Desmond. The interior is beautifully decorated and furnished to create a luxury environment where you can enjoy a wide range of table games including Blackjack, Poker, Punto Bianco and Roulette. It’s also the sole casino in all of Ireland where you can play Free Bet Blackjack and Money Wheel – popularly known as the Wheel of Fortune.
You’ll find the biggest and most luxurious gaming floor in the country. Whatever your stake, whether you’re dabbling with 50 cents bets, or playing the high roller with a pile of euros on the spin of a wheel or the turn of a card, there’s a table for you. The casino is open seven nights a week from 6pm to 6am and it’s an essential stopping off point if you’re looking for great gaming in Dublin.
For a contemporary gaming experience in the city, check out the D1 Club in lower Dorset Street. This sleek facility opened in 2012, and features an eclectic mix of live table and electronic games – including arguably the best selection of slots in Dublin.
Along with the live Poker, Blackjack and traditional Roulette tables one real point of difference is that they have several Roulette Grand Jeu tables. These give you the chance to try your luck on the spin of a wheel, with the added privacy of an electronic game.
The D1 Club really illustrates how land-based casinos in Ireland have stepped up their game, given the threat from online casinos. The electronic poker, roulette and slot machines at D1 are a great way to sharpen your skills before you head for the live tables, also giving you the chance to win big money.
Just because many of the games are automated, the D1 Club has never lost sight of how important the human touch is for a casino. Expect to find plenty of friendly and attentive staff, dedicated to make every visit a pleasure.
Fitzwilliam Casino and Card Club
As the name suggests, the Fitzwilliam Casino and Card Club is located right in the heart of the city, on Lower Fitzwilliam Street. Open since the 1980s, it’s not just iconic and one of Dublin’s favourite casinos, it’s also the self-styled home of live poker and gaming tables in the city.
All the favourites are here, including Roulette, Blackjack, Brit Brag – essentially a three-card version of poker – and Punto Banco. As you’d expect, it boasts the biggest and busiest card room in Dublin, which is regularly voted the as best in the Irish Poker Awards. A lot of this is down to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the club, where poker players of every level can find the right table for them.
Regular tournaments, festivals and leagues are hosted, which you can join during your visit. Players from all abilities and levels participate, so it’s also a great place to develop your game. Best of all, it’s all set against the imposing backdrop of a fine Georgian town house, whose interior is dominated by a dramatic staircase leading up to a secluded Balcony Room – there’s no better backdrop to enjoy a late-night in Dublin.
No best-of list of places to gamble in and around Dublin would be complete without a mention of Leopardstown racecourse. The undisputed home of Irish horseracing holds over 20 meetings a year, both on the flat and over the jumps. It’s the location for many of the biggest races of both seasons, featuring iconic races like the Irish Gold Cup, Irish Champion Stakes and Irish Champion Hurdle.
It’s around a 30 to 45-minute drive south of the city centre and is a common detour for racing and gambling fans who are visiting Ireland’s shores. The dress code varies, depending on what part of the course you’re visiting. If you’re down in the general enclosure, smart casual is just the ticket. While if you’re going all out on the Premium Level, racegoers go all out and dress to impress.
It’s well worth checking the diary to see which races are coming up soon. Put on your glad rags on and head down to experience the thrills of race day.
There you have it – our highlights of the best places to gamble in Dublin. The way online gambling is growing, don’t be surprised if these casinos aren’t around in a few years – so visit them soon if you really want to see them in action.