Gambling has always been a popular pastime in Ireland, from sports and horse race betting to high-stakes blackjack and games of chance such as roulette.
This trend has continued even as the market has largely transitioned online, with the leading Irish online bingo sites at betinireland.ie comprising a vast and increasingly lucrative marketplace.
Online bingo always retains a cult following, but just how popular is this vertical and why has it enjoyed such enduring love and respect on the Emerald Isle?
iGaming and Online Bingo in Ireland
Along with sports technology, we know that the gambling industry is one of the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces, with Ireland’s expansive sector also one of the best-regulated anywhere across the globe.
Ireland’s citizens wagered a cumulative amount of $9.8 billion both on and offline in 2019, for example, despite boasting a relatively small population of five million.
This equates to an average bankroll of $379.52 per head, which is amongst the highest per capita gambling spends in the world. To provide some context, the average Brit wagers just £133 annually ($181.69) or a relatively paltry £2.57 per week, highlighting a difference that’s as stark as it is outstanding.
Furthermore, the overall gambling industry on the continent is worth an estimated $24.7 billion, with Ireland accounting for a staggering 40% of this total GGY.
This is despite the Emerald Isle being one of Europe’s smaller countries, with a population much smaller than that of Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK.
But how much is wagered online in Europe? Overall, it’s estimated that $4.7 billion of the total $9.8 billion spent in Ireland is wagered online, including live casino games and virtual bingo verticals.
This equates to a market share just shy of 50%, which highlights the growing popularity of online verticals and the increased dominance of virtual gameplay in the digital age.
Of course, online bingo represents a relatively small piece of this pie, but it remains incredibly popular in Ireland and (like other iGaming verticals) continues to grow incrementally year-on-year.
The History of Bingo in Ireland
While the game of bingo can be traced back hundreds of years, it didn’t arrive on the shores of Ireland until the 1960s.
However, once it did arrive it was quickly embraced by gambling-friendly locals, with a host of local bingo halls springing up in Ireland just as they had previously in England, Scotland and Wales.
During this time, Saturday night became bingo night in Ireland, creating a thrilling combination of gambling, drinking and socialising for young and older adults alike.
Interestingly, Irish bingo was originally championed by the Catholic Church, who were keen to market it as a fun way to raise funds from local communities and provide a fun source of entertainment for residents.
By the late 70s, however, its reputation and popularity had spread so much that bingo was able to detach itself from the church and become a mainstream form of entertainment in its own right.
The majority of bingo halls were located in Dublin, catering to both locals and visitors alike over time. However, Irish hubs were never heavily reliant on tourists (unlike operators in the UK), as locals who loved the game played all-year-round and created a consistent source of revenue for brands.
This trend has continued to this day, while it shows no sign of abating having largely transitioned online.
The Last Word – Online Bingo Now
It’s now a little over 60 years since bingo was first introduced as an offline entity in Ireland, with the evolved online vertical having grown into a popular and much-loved marketplace.
It’s also a vertical that contributes the largest amount to the online GGY in Ireland, with its contribution increasing incrementally over the last couple of years or so.
Ultimately, today’s online bingo platforms do much to replicate the immersive sights and sounds of a bricks-and-mortar experience, while the sheer range and diversity of game iterations offers huge value to casual and serious players alike.
So, although online bingo in Ireland will never be as generative as virtual slots or table games, the vertical retains a niche following that tends to wager frequently and in deceptively large amounts.