Illegal betting

Understanding Illegal Betting and Its Impact:


Illegal betting, sometimes known as black market operators, is a pervasive issue in Ireland and globally, involving transactions that are conducted outside of regulated or licensed channels. They violate many laws and regulations related to gambling, resulting in a range of negative impacts on individuals, communities, operators and The Exchequer.

What is Illegal Betting?

Illegal betting refers to all forms of gambling or betting activities that occur outside regulated and licensed operators. These activities are not supervised by any government or regulatory authority, making them unlawful and subject to penalties. Examples of illegal betting include unlicensed sports betting, unsanctioned lotteries, illegal online gambling platforms, and underground casinos. In Ireland, the only place where it is legal to place a bet, is in a licensed betting shop at a race track or with a licensed operator online.

Why You Should Not Engage in Illegal Betting

  1. Protection of Vulnerable Groups: Illegal betting operators regularly lack the safeguards that licensed operators have, such as age verification procedures and self-exclusion tools, allowing under-aged and vulnerable individuals to participate in harmful betting practices.

  2. Risk to Personal Finances: As illegal operators are not regulated, they can employ unethical practices like fixing odds in their favour or even refusing to pay out winnings. In an illegal setting, there is no guarantees of fairness or that the operator will engage when you might have an issue with a bet or market.

  3. Supporting Criminal Activities: Profits from illegal betting can often be channeled into other illicit activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and organised crime. By participating in illegal betting, you may be indirectly supporting these detrimental activities.

  4. Job Losses and Harm to Local Businesses: Legal gambling operators generate job opportunities and contribute to the local economy. There are over 6,000 people employed in Ireland by licensed betting operators. Illegal operators undermine this system, siphoning money away from these businesses and causing potential job losses.

  5. Loss of Government Revenue: Legal betting channels contribute to the national exchequer through taxes, which help fund public services. The illegal betting entities in Ireland operate outside the purview of government regulation and oversight. As such, they effectively sidestep the Betting Duty and all other taxes that legal operators are obligated to pay. This evasion not only drains the government of critical revenue but also creates an uneven playing field, unfairly disadvantaging those operators who adhere to legal and ethical standards.

How to Report Illegal Betting

If you suspect illegal betting activities, it’s very helpful to report them to the relevant authorities. This could include:

  • Documenting as much information as possible about the suspected illegal operator – this could include names, locations, website URLs, transaction details, etc.
  • Contacting your local Gardai and Revenue Commissioners, and providing them with the gathered information.
  • When the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland is up and running, they will have a facility to report such operators. In the meantime, if you wish to contact us here at the Irish Bookmakers Association, please email,


Illegal betting poses a significant threat to individuals, communities, and the broader economy. By recognising its harms and choosing to engage with legal, licensed operators, we can all play a part in creating a safer, fairer, and more responsible betting environment. Reporting suspected illegal operators is an important step, ensuring the protection of vulnerable groups, the integrity of local businesses, and the vitality of public revenue.

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