Companies offering online gaming facilities may be surprised to learn that it is not possible to recover cross-border gambling debts in Ireland. The Irish High Court recently held that a sports spread-betting company could not enforce an English judgment for gambling debts against an Irish resident in Ireland, as to do so would be contrary to Irish public policy.
Mr O’Shea, an Irish resident, opened an account with Sporting Index Ltd, an online gaming operator specialising in sports spread-betting. He incurred debts of €118,058.99 after placing an unsuccessful bet on the outcome of a Heineken Cup match. Sporting Index took proceedings against Mr O’Shea in England to recover the debt.
Sporting Index obtained a judgment in England of €118,058.99 in relation to the debt, and a separate judgment of £17,500 to cover its legal costs. It then applied to the Master of the Irish High Court to have the debts enforced against Mr O’Shea in Ireland. The Master ordered that both judgments of the English court were enforceable in Ireland. Mr O’Shea appealed this finding to the High Court.