If we’re being honest, the situation surrounding Northern Ireland bookies is more complicated than it should be. But to us, the solution to that confusion is not to bury our heads in the sand.
Instead, we'll show you how Northern Ireland is different and address some of the best ways to overcome this rather complicated situation. We'll start by telling you exactly where you stand and then explain exactly how to find the most suitable Northern Ireland bookies, the ones that are ideal for you.
We’d say this tale really begins in 1985, although obviously, the history of Northern Ireland bookmakers goes back much further than that. That is when the last major piece of legislation relevant to Northern Ireland bookies took place with the Betting, Gaming Lotteries & Amusements Order. You can probably see why this is an issue already. It existed before the online world – before bookies in Northern Ireland crossed that virtual frontier.
In terms of regulation for online bookies in Northern Ireland, there is no formal licensing process currently in place. There’s a rule from 2014 which states that bookies can only advertise their services in Northern Ireland if they hold an appropriate license issued by the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission). In fact, you could say that there is technically no such thing as Northern Ireland bookmakers in the strictest legal sense. So, just to be clear, when we are talking about Northern Ireland bookies, what we mean is an operator that is licensed to service customers in Northern Ireland.
So, where exactly does that leave those of you living in Northern Ireland in practical terms? Well, we think it means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to the security of Northern Ireland bookmakers, which makes finding the best gambling sites online just a tad more tricky for you. However, we hope that our guide can help you with that and demonstrate ways to stay safe when you pick a bookie in Northern Ireland.
So, there’s no relevant gambling commission for bookmakers in Northern Ireland. What kind of things should you be looking for in order to ensure that your Northern Ireland bookies are as safe as they could possibly be.
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. There are several things we look for when we carry out our bookmaker reviews, whether it’s those on our list of Irish bookmakers (Republic of Ireland) or from elsewhere. You already know that when it comes to Northern Ireland bookies, you may need to be a little more careful who you trust and here are some ways to go about checking.
As we already explained, there is no licensing process for Northern Ireland bookmakers. However, licenses still have a great deal of relevance when it comes to the legitimacy of Northern Ireland bookies. Quality is the key. A high quality Tier-1 license also means stringent regulations, with the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) being the ideal for the UK and the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) the best option for a more international audience.
Whenever you give your details to online bookmakers in Northern Ireland or anywhere else, especially when it’s your sensitive financial information, you need to know that data is safe. Otherwise, both your identity and your cash might disappear into the ether – and nobody needs that. Encryption protects your data from outside sources and a good bookie will make sure that the details are proudly displayed on their site.
One of the most important parts of modern betting regulation is the focus on responsible gaming and it’s every bit as important when looking for bookies in Northern Ireland. Even if you completely have your gambling under control, you should still care about their policy in this regard. If the bookmaker doesn’t care much about responsible gaming, they probably don’t care about their customers in general.
Some safety considerations go beyond licenses and encryption, and that is the track record of the site itself. If Northern Ireland bookmakers have been around for a while, their standards and controversies should all be publicly available. So, if you’re unsure, do a little research, see whether other people have had any issues or problems in the past. It might not be written into law, but a good reputation still goes a long way in our eyes.
When we recommend a site for a certain market, whether it’s the best sports betting sites Ireland has on offer, or the top European online casino sites you can play at, we have very high standards across the board. But nothing is more important to us than your safety.
To put it simply, if you want help knowing which sites are worth your while, that is exactly what we’re here for. As vital as safety is, especially for Northern Ireland bookies, it’s not the only thing to consider. We don’t want you to think that the complicated legal situation means that there aren’t terrific options available to you, because there are. So, here’s some of the good things you can look forward to from your favourite Northern Ireland bookmakers.
Thanks to how very competitive the world of online gambling is in general, we get to reap the rewards in the form of betting offers for new customers as well as many other great promotions. Not all of them are good, of course, but plenty of very smart Northern Ireland bookies have realised that building true value into their promotions is more than worthwhile in a crowded market.
Plus, it's also a prime opportunity for bookies in Northern Ireland to showcase their personality and creative talents. The best offers show evidence of balancing individuality against real-life value, although it’s a tricky thing to pull off.
Sooner or later, we all need the helping hand of customer service. Luckily, the standards in the gambling industry are very high. How many other businesses regularly let you talk to a real person in seconds in the middle of the night? It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. Fast, friendly service available in as many ways as possible always takes our betting site experience to the next level.
Variety is the spice of life, as they say. And that’s certainly the case in the world of the Northern Ireland bookmakers. The more markets, games and sports that are covered, the more people get exactly what they want. How could it possibly be anything other than a good thing? You’d be amazed by just how much choice there is out there – you may have a new favourite you’ve simply not discovered yet.
Better odds mean that you get more money when you win, it’s as simple as that. There is no single bookie that will always have the best betting odds for every sport. However, some Northern Ireland bookmakers are more consistent than others, or might routinely be more competitive for a particular sport. This can also tie in well with promotions like Bet Boosts, which you can use to further enhance your winnings.
If you're a casino fan, then the equivalent would be looking for slots with a high RTP percentage, casino table games with the lowest house edge or for poker, the lowest rakeback. In addition, all casino software should be guaranteed fair and random by trusted third-party auditors.
We were going to say design here but getting down to the crux of the matter is that seamless technical performance, sound structure and good looks all come down to how easy your site experience is. The thing about truly great design for Northern Ireland bookmakers is that you never really think about it. So, from a Northern Irish player’s perspective, it’s all about ease of use. This is also the case – perhaps even more so – for mobile apps.
Once you have tracked down the best sports betting sites Ireland has to offer you, the question remains, what will you bet on? Well, that is of course, entirely down to you. However, if you’re unsure of the kind of options that are available, here’s our list of just some of the most popular sports to bet on in Northern Ireland.
There is perhaps no sport more associated with Ireland than horse racing. That fact is certainly reflected by the its popularity at bookmakers in Northern Ireland. Thanks to the joys of the internet, you can access races from all around the world, not just nearby, meaning the options available are close to overwhelming. Horse racing is also a sport that really benefits from plenty of great promotions, including various insurance bonuses and bet boosts.
Almost everything we have said about horse racing and bookmakers in Northern Ireland also applies to greyhound racing. Indeed, it’s fairly rare to find someone who is a fan of one and not the other. Despite this, it sometimes feels like horse racing gets the lion’s share of mainstream accolades and attention, which we think is hardly fair on our other four-legged friends.
Once again, loads of markets, plenty of promotions and competitive odds through bookmakers in Northern Ireland means that there’s plenty of great markets for you to get involved with.
This one is pretty much a no-brainer as football is immensely popular all over the world, not just with bookmakers in Northern Ireland. This does bring up an important consideration for betting sites in Northern Ireland, and that is whether they are adequately covering the northern Irish leagues.
Check for the IFA Premiership, for instance, and see if the markets are up to scratch. Because the betting sites that are available to Northern Irish users are found elsewhere, we have to pay extra attention to whether or not they actually cover the relevant leagues to a high level.
It’s a very similar situation here. If anything, you might have to be even more vigilant in checking the leagues you’re interested in are covered, as rugby union isn’t quite as popular as the internationally beloved monster that is football.
Speaking of international, you likely won’t have any issues finding the big international tournaments from bookmakers in Northern Ireland: it’s the smaller leagues that can cause an issue. This is why we say the more the merrier when it comes to betting markets, and why Northern Ireland bettors should always check their chosen Northern Ireland bookmakers cover the leagues they’re interested in.
Often overlooked by the rest of the world, Gaelic games have millions of supporters throughout Ireland, with football and hurling being the two dominant sports. In fact, Gaelic football is the second in terms of participation in the whole country.
It would appear that after years of being under-represented the gambling industry has finally started to give it the attention it deserves. During our time across many different bookmakers, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy this has been to find across most quality international options.
There's no surefire method that's shown us how to beat the bookies (or we'd be using it ourselves) but sticking to the best sports betting sites can certainly enhance your winning chances, keep you safe and generally make betting a much more enjoyable experience. Want a good overview of what a sports betting site should look like in Northern Ireland? Here's a list of the current top five Northern Ireland bookmakers that we think are more than worthwhile taking a look at.
OK let’s get a few things out of the way. If you want to enjoy some of the best odds on the market from an easy to use betting site, then you might as well just go straight to 888sport. Seriously, this bookmaker has everything you need to bet on your favourite sport and make some decent wins. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into football, horse racing or rugby, as 888sport routinely manages to blow the competition away.
Obviously 888sport has all of the UKGC licensing you’ll need for safe betting otherwise we wouldn’t be recommending this bookie to you. But it’s the fact that 888sport knocks it out of the park with an awesome welcome bonus offer that makes this site hard to beat. Plus with user-friendly features like the cool bet calculator, you’ll even get help in landing that impossible football acca. Highly recommended.
You might not have heard of SportNation, but you’ll be hearing much more about this bookie very soon. This is because SportNation have come from seemingly nowhere to be one of the best betting sites in Northern Ireland. How has SportNation done this? This bookmaker has managed to put on seriously competitive odds for everything from Premier League football to horse racing at Downpatrick.
Just because SportNation is relatively new doesn’t mean that it’s not safe. This bookie has all of the right licensing in place to keep you safe and we were glad to see that they only accept the most trustworthy payment methods. In fact if you look at anything from the efficient customer service team to the easy to use site, you’ll see that SportNation has everything that you should be looking for in an online bookie.
TonyBet is another relatively new bookmaker who’s managed to make a big splash in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. This is because TonyBet has managed to get all of the basics right and then crammed everything into one very user-friendly website. We found that the brand has equally competitive odds for everything from major sports like football and rugby, all the way down to some seriously good bets for darts and snooker.
One of the best reasons to sign up to TonyBet has to be the fact that you can get a decent welcome bonus, which makes the perfect introduction to one of Northern Ireland’s best new betting sites.
You’ll easily recognise the Mr Play betting site from the massive moustache that pops up all over the place. But you don’t need to be massively hairy to enjoy this bookie’s massive bets. Mr Play has managed to put on some of the best odds in recent years, for anything from horse racing to cricket, football and even esports.
Mr Play has got all of the basics right and then some. The betting platform is fast to load and easy to use. In addition but Mr Play probably has the best betting apps we've seen, which are available for both iOS and Android devices. Then there's UK licensing and regulation, a good range of payment methods and a nice little welcome bonus is the icing on the cake!
Yeah we are including Grosvenor in our shortlist of the best Northern Ireland bookies. That’s right, Grosvenor, the casino gaming giant. But don’t run away, as our Grosvenor review found that this brand hosts a surprisingly good sportsbook. While most people will come here to play the slots and table games, Grosvenor has quietly been hard at work in putting on some giant-killing odds of everything from football to snooker, tennis and horse racing.
We wouldn’t be including Grosvenor here unless we knew that it had all of the required UK Gambling Commission licensing. Plus it has to be noted that Grosvenor’s customer support is famous for being friendly and efficient. We even found a very handy odds boost welcome bonus to add to the joys of this great all-round betting site.
There aren't many people that think the legal situation is ideal. In fact, a 2020 survey found that nine out of 10 respondents said they would prefer it if Ireland had its own licensing system and regulations. In other words, the consensus is that people want the way Northern Ireland betting works to be made clearer so they don’t have to rely on other regulatory bodies. In terms of whether that will happen any time soon, unfortunately we don’t know.
However, we are optimistic about the future of betting in Ireland and the prospect of Northern Ireland having its own regulatory body at some stage. As of right now, there’s still a galaxy’s worth of great betting options amongst the Northern Ireland bookmakers we've already shown you and until such time as things start to change, we're confident they will keep you safe and entertained.
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