Ireland has a strange history with gambling. While a lot of people in the country love to place bets on sports such as horse racing and football, casinos are a point of difference here.
While a lot of countries have thrown open their doors to the gambling industry, legalising it in order to raise revenues through taxation, Ireland has held out on this in the area of casinos.
This does not mean that there are no casinos at all in Ireland, however. But compared to other global cities such as London, places to enjoy gambling are much less common in Dublin.
In other towns and cities around the island of Ireland, it might be almost impossible to find a local casino to play games such as blackjack and poker - but hope is not lost.
Our full guide to casinos in Ireland can help people to find one to play at - so read on for more.
People have been gambling on the outcome of sporting events in Ireland for hundreds of years. The country's close links with the history of horse racing are well known, but the picture around games such as roulette, blackjack and poker are a lot more complicated than many think.
While other countries such as the UK have extremely lax rules and regulations in the gambling industry - leading to people having a lot of casinos to pick from for a visit - this is not the case in Ireland. Indeed, the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act effectively outlawed casinos in Ireland.
If we take the definition of a casino and gamble on games like poker, this does not mean there are not any casinos in Ireland. They are just described as private members' clubs, which means that they get around a loophole that is in the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act. It might seem strange that it is possible to enjoy a day out at the Leopardstown races and have a bet and a drink but not play poker at a typical casino, but private members' clubs provide an alternative.
Often catering to tourists who are visiting Ireland on holiday, people need to become a member of the club in order to play their favourite gambling games, but there is not usually a fee to join.
Putting a number on how many of these private members' clubs there are in Ireland is not easy, though. Like a lot of industries, the gambling world has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, with some of Ireland's best private members' clubs having permanently closed their doors.
There has also been pressure to ban these clubs, with Michael McDowell calling for them to be shut down while he was Ireland's Minister for Justice, but others want casinos to be allowed. After all, it is possible to use online casinos in Ireland, so why are bricks and mortar casinos banned?
That does not mean there are no casinos left in Ireland, though, so let's have a look at the best.
Ireland's casinos have to be termed as private members' clubs in order to avoid breaking the law. For those who want to visit one, here we break down some of the best casinos in Ireland.
We kick off our list of the top 10 casinos in Ireland in Dublin, which is home to Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium. Located on O'Connell Street Upper, Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium has old school games along with casino classics such as roulette and blackjack.
The dress code is smart casual at Dublin casino Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium - which is owned by the famous Irish businessman Richard Quirke - while visitors will have to show a valid I.D at the main door of the venue in order to gain admittance and play games.
There is no need to gamble to have a fun visit at Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium either, as there are a great range of arcade games to try out that are suitable for people of all ages too.
One of the largest casino chains in Ireland is Emerald Casinos, which has venues in Dublin, Dundalk and Clondalkin. Blackjack and roulette are among the top games to play at the trio of Emerald Casinos sites in Ireland, which has a variety of poker games available to try as well.
Daily hold'em tournaments are held every day at Emerald Casinos, so they are a fantastic choice for those who want to test out their skills at the poker table to try to win big money.
The Eden Quay Dublin 1 site is in the heart of the city's nightlife, with dozens of slot machines to play, while the Dundalk location can be found in the old Bank of Ireland building. Casino lovers in Clondalkin should head to Q's snooker hall to find the Emerald Casino, which has 20 poker tables in a magnificent poker room that has enough space to seat around 200 players.
Ireland's brace of Expo Casino locations can be found on the southside of Dublin, with the first of them located at The Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght, while the other is on the northside of Dublin at Omni Park Shopping Centre. Expo Casino locations are known for being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which means visitors can be sure their doors will always be open.
Large screen TVs are in place at both casinos, showing all the latest sporting events, which adds to the excellent atmosphere. Games include hundreds of the latest slot machines and cash games and tournaments are regularly held in the casinos' poker rooms as well.
The Tallaght site is claimed to be Ireland's largest casino, covering 16,000 sq ft of action.
The first Cork entry on our list of the very best Ireland casinos is the Macau Casino & Restaurant Complex, which also has a base in the heart of the capital city. Visitors to the Macau Casino & Restaurant Complex sites can play poker, blackjack, roulette and baccarat.
In Cork, the Macau club is also home to the Mint restaurant, which is one of the best dining spots in the city. Macau Casino & Restaurant Complex offers a Player Rewards loyalty programme that ensures customers have plenty of reasons to return again and again.
They do not just cater to high rollers in Dublin and Cork either, as stakes start from just 50 cents on the electronic roulette machines, while the stakes for the live tables begin at only €1 here.
Fitzpatrick’s Casino Group has been running casinos in Dublin and Limerick for over 30 years, so visitors can be assured they are in for a high-quality experience if they choose their sites. Fitzpatrick’s Casinos are for members only and are strictly for people who are over the age of 21, while a loyalty programme offers players the chance to earn bonus points every time they visit any one of the company's venues.
Fitzpatrick's Casino Tallaght is located within the 4* Plaza Hotel Complex, while Fitzpatrick's Casino Limerick is located on a corner of Pery Square - there is another on Patrick St in Limerick too. George's Street in Dun Laoghaire is home to another one of the six Fitzpatrick's Casino sites, while in the capital there are Fitzpatrick's Casinos to visit on Parnell Street and Aungier Street, so there is plenty of choices to pick from for those who fancy a trip to a casino.
Staying in Dublin, the Sporting Emporium Casino has to be mentioned in any list of the best casinos in Ireland. Open from 8pm to 6am Monday to Sunday, the casino reopened its doors in January 2022 after the Irish government finally confirmed the easing of COVID restrictions.
The Sporting Emporium Casino has been open since 2005 and has become a very popular place to go for a night out in Dublin, not least because there are multiple plasma screens showing all the latest sporting action, while players can also enjoy a complimentary drink too.
Poker lovers who choose to go to Dublin's Sporting Emporium Casino can play cash games daily from 8pm and there are plenty of tournaments to try out at this site as well. Based just off Grafton Street, the casino is also home to games like punto banco, as well as roulette and blackjack, while it claims to have the most luxurious gaming floor in the whole country. While high-value stakes are available, betting limits start at 50 cents at Sporting Emporium Casino.
As the name of this venue suggests, the Loft Card Club is primarily focused on poker players. Located in Naas, the club also offers the chance to try your luck at blackjack too, however.
The Loft Card Club - which can be found on Fairgreen Street - often hosts big tournaments and despite the fact, there are a lot of regulars who play here, new faces are always welcome too.
While significantly smaller than some of the other top casinos in Ireland right now, Dublin's Amusement City is still worth a visit. After all, good things come in small packages too.
Amusement City - which can be found on Westmorland Street in the capital - often marks special dates on the calendar such as Lunar New Year with events offering a Chinese buffet and the best cocktails. A memorable night is guaranteed by a visit to Amusement City in Dublin.
Having been established all the way back in 1974, Amusement City is one of the oldest casinos in Ireland - and it remains right up there with the best of them to this day. Open daily till 1am, the casino has over 200 slot machines to pick from, as well as daily draws and cash pot bingo.
Live sport is shown on big-screen TVs at Amusement City, which also offers its members a range of complimentary hot food and beverages from the site's excellent in-house cafe too.
Heading over to Galway, Caesars Palace Casino is a fine choice for bingo lovers in particular as the site is home to a 200+ seat state of the art bingo hall that has big prizes up for grabs daily.
Caesars Palace Casino also has a range of roulette games to play as well as slots and video poker, while the Galway site has free tea, coffee and biscuits - along with WiFi for guests.
Visitors to Caesars Palace Casino can enjoy benefits from the Vantage Club Card as well.
Last but by no means least in our list of the top casinos in Ireland is Dublin's Village Green Card Club, which can be found at the Village Green Shopping Centre in Tallaght Village. Owned and operated by JP McCann of JP Poker, the club has 15 poker tables and caters for 135 players.
The Village Green Card Club is currently open Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 7pm, Saturday from 2pm and Sundays from 3pm, while there is a combined tournament and cash league in place for regular visitors to try to work their way through at the club.
Naturally, there are a lot of big differences when betting at a casino when compared to online.
Many people in Ireland who play at online casinos might not even realise the country is home to private members' clubs where they can play poker, as well as slots and games like blackjack.
In the next section of our complete guide to land-based casinos on the island of Ireland, let's take a look at the pros and cons of betting at a casino compared to online casino play.