In spite of the fact that gambling has been a significant part of human behaviour throughout our history, it is also the most criticised of all our leisure activities. The bookmakers in particular are the most obvious targets for the numerous anti-gambling lobby groups and continually seem to feel the need to defend themselves even though they are legitimate businesses employing large numbers of people and paying millions of euros in tax. In fact it good easily be argued that without the sponsorship they receive from the leading bookmakers many sports would struggle to exist in today’s competitive world. Horse racing in particular would almost certainly not survive without the money it receives from our bookmakers, but there are many other sports that would suffer without their support. Here at gambling.ie we are clearly big supporters of the gambling industry, and feel strongly that most of the criticism faced by the big bookmakers is totally unfair and usually also mostly unwarranted. It is of course true that for some people gambling can become an addiction rather than an enjoyable leisure activity, but the same can be said of many other things in life including the latest addition to the list of common addictions, computer gaming. The bookmakers are however very aware of the potential for some people to suffer from what we refer to as problem gambling and most of them try hard to identify those people for whom gambling has become a problem and to help them stop. There will of course always be those who think that the bookmakers are not doing enough to solve this problem, as indeed there will always be people who hate the whole idea of gambling in any of its various guises. Thankfully the vast majority of us can enjoy gambling without becoming addicted, and appreciate the increasing variety of gambling options that the bookmakers now offer us through their online gambling sites. It is now almost twenty years since the leading bookmakers began to set up the first online gambling sites, which at the time were primarily targeted at their existing sports gambling customers. Since then these online sports gambling sites have been expanded dramatically, with the addition of large numbers of gambling games so that casino gambling fans are also catered for on the same site. Both the sports gambling and the casino gambling sections of these large online gambling sites offer a huge range of gambling options, far in excess of anything which is available in the high street betting shops, bingo clubs or real casinos. Even the biggest slot machine arcades cannot hope to compete with the range of slots gambling games now available at every online casino gambling site.
At the beginning of the online gambling revolution all the online gambling sites were operated by the big bookmakers we recognise from their presence on our high streets, but the sector now has several new bookmakers most of which operate solely online and therefore have no betting shops at all. Clearly the big high street bookmakers such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and of course Paddy Power are very well known brand names, and have been in the forefront of the development of online gambling with excellent sports gambling and casino gambling options available on their sites. The online gambling sites operated by all of these bookmakers are still among the most popular online gambling sites in the sector, and as you would probably expect the Paddy Power site in particular remains the most popular online gambling site in Ireland due of course to their substantial high street presence with over 200 betting shops spread across the country. The other leading bookmaker with a significant number of betting shops in Ireland is Ladbrokes. The Ladbrokes online gambling site is very comprehensive and offers a huge range of gambling games as well as all the sports and sporting events you would expect to find at any big online sports gambling site. Ladbrokes also operate a very popular online poker platform and an excellent 24 hour bingo site for their masses of bingo fans. Betfred is the only other leading bookmaker with a significant high street presence in Ireland, and although the number of betting shops they operate over here is much less than either Paddy Power or Ladbrokes, they manage over 800 outlets across the UK and Ireland in total. In much the same way that Paddy Power have become known for quirky bets and unusual advertising gimmicks, Betfred have established a reputation for unusual bonus offers. In-play sports gambling has also become a bit of a speciality at Betfred, as has their focus on lotteries from all over the world. All these big bookmakers operate very popular online gambling sites, but as we have already pointed out there are now also a number of online only bookmakers offering a similarly huge range of online gambling options. Party Gaming for instance is an online only bookmaker, listed on the UK stock exchange but licensed in Gibraltar. Party Gaming is of course primarily involved in online casino gambling, but has established itself as one of the leading players in that sector with the very well-known Party Poker brand, now having been joined by other specialist online brands such as Party Casino, Party Bets and PartyGammon. Another big online only bookmaker is Bwin, again licensed in Gibraltar but this time registered in Austria. Bwin is a brand name that football fans all over Europe will probably recognise because they are the main shirt sponsor for both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Almost all the online bookmakers who do not have a high street presence need to establish their brand in other ways such as the shirt sponsorship used by Bwin, and another of the big online only operators 888 Holdings also uses sponsorship of major sports and sporting events to achieve the necessary brand recognition. Irish sports gambling fans are also well catered for by the 888 sports gambling site because they embrace Irish horse racing and the GAA sports.