Now that the Christmas holidays are over and most people have gone back to work and back into their normal daily routines, perhaps it’s time to look back and consider whether Christmas has become even more commercialised than ever this year. It’s fair to say that most retailers have been a little disappointed with their sales this year, although that may be because they were perhaps a little too optimistic in the first place. Nevertheless we have undoubtedly spent a great deal of money over a relatively short space of time, and as usual there have been winners and losers in the battle for our spending, with the latest technical gadgets among the winners. Our love affair with our computers, tablets, smart phones and now the latest AI hubs seems to grow even stronger year on year. It appears we can’t resist going online even when we should be spending quality time with our families, and it is not just the online retailers who benefit from that behaviour. The online gambling sites are also very busy during holiday periods. Ever since the big bookmakers decided that they could no longer ignore the internet and began to introduce their online sports gambling sites, we have seen a steady growth in the number of people gambling online across the whole spectrum of gambling options. Most observers would agree that it is the huge increase in gambling options provided by the online gambling sites which has driven this growth, primarily because it has attracted a much broader gambling audience across the country. The first online gambling sites were all operated by the major bookmakers, and were originally targeted at their existing sports gambling customers. The advantage of operating an online sports gambling site however was that the bookmakers were able to cover a very much wider range of sports and sporting events than they could ever hope to do effectively in their high street betting shops. The most popular sports gambling activity in Ireland has always been horse racing, and probably still is, but we can now follow a huge range of other sports and we do not even need the leave home to do it. No wonder more of us are gambling online than ever before. The influence of the bookmakers who were operating those first online gambling sites did not stop there however, because they then began to add a few gambling games on those sites and created a whole new online gambling sector which we now refer to as online casino gambling. Once again it was the ability of the site operators to quickly and easily add more and more games which proved the reason for their success. There were of course obvious target groups among existing gambling enthusiasts, including regular visitors to our real casinos. Being able to play traditional casino gambling games such as roulette and blackjack in the peace and quiet of their own homes proved very attractive indeed, as did the opportunity to also play traditional casino gambling games which were not available in their real casinos. The online casino gambling sites offered them the chance to play games such as craps, baccarat and even backgammon, none of which were readily available here in Ireland. The existing casino gambling community were not the only obvious target group however, and the bookmakers were not slow to add a whole range of numbers gambling games to their new sites. Most of these new online gambling games were based on the ever popular game of bingo, so it was no surprise that a large number of bingo fans began playing their favourite game online. Whether the big bookmakers who first started to offer their customers the option to gamble online realised at the time just how successful and popular online gambling was to become we can only speculate, but they certainly quickly recognised the opportunities that online gambling provided for them to capitalise on their investment.
Although sports gambling was clearly the number one priority for the bookmakers when they first began to invest in online gambling, it is actually the casino gambling element of online gambling which has proved to be the most important. Even now when you log on to any of the sports gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers such as Paddy Power or Ladbrokes, there is very little difference in the range of sports you can follow and even the quoted odds are often very similar. There are of course a variety of special offers and bonus deals, particularly from Paddy Power, but that is often the only reason to choose one site over another in terms of sports gambling. The major difference between the online gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers is therefore in the range of gambling games they feature on their sites, particularly the range of slots gambling games. The vast majority of gambling games available at almost every online casino gambling site are slots games in various forms, and it is these games which define the difference between one site and another. This is also where the specialist casino software companies become so influential in the online gambling sector, because it is the software companies who design and supply almost all the slots games available online. Ireland’s favourite bookmaker is undoubtedly Paddy Power, and their online gambling site is of course very well supported here in Ireland. The success of the Paddy Power online gambling site is however not just the result of their high profile on our high streets, it is also the reward for their choice of an excellent casino software company to supply their slots gambling games. Some of the leading bookmakers have needed to change their software suppliers over the years, but Paddy Power have stuck with Wagerworks since the beginning, and their games are still as popular as ever. Although all the leading bookmakers now offer online gambling sites with a full range of gambling games, they have now been joined by several new specialist casino gambling sites which has made the sector even more competitive.