Unlike the online retail sector where the big high street names do not necessarily dominate the market, most of the online gambling industry remains firmly in the control of the big bookmakers. The online sports gambling sector in particular is almost entirely in the hands of major bookmakers, but even if we look at the online casino gambling sector where there are now a few smaller specialist competitors we still see the huge influence of the leading bookmakers. Realistically of course we have to acknowledge that it was the big bookmakers who first invested in the technology and software which enabled us to enjoy our sports gambling online rather than through their high street betting shops. It was also those same bookmakers who first began to offer us the opportunity to play gambling games online and kick started what we now call online casino gambling. The online gambling market does however have some similarities with the online retail sector, because when we refer to the big corporate bookmakers who now dominate the sports gambling sector we are not just talking about the well-known high street bookmakers, there are also major bookmakers who operate solely online and have never had a high street presence. In this respect they provide the competition for well established companies such as William Hill and Ladbrokes in much the same way as Amazon competes with the likes of Marks and Spencer and John Lewis. The online gambling industry may not be quite as competitive as online retailing in terms of the number of different companies involved, but we do still have a reasonable degree of choice. Sports gambling fans have benefitted hugely from the introduction of online gambling in terms of the range of sports and sporting events they can now follow, but the odds quoted by almost all the major online sports gambling sites are usually very similar and do not often provide a reason to choose a particular site. There are of course a whole range of bonus and cash back offers to consider and most of the big bookmakers also spend a great deal of money advertising their brand and on sponsorship deals which again they hope will raise their profile amongst the gambling public. We also see bookmakers such as Paddy Power use a number of innovative publicity stunts to promote their brand, but in reality there is very little difference between them when it comes to sports gambling. Where there is a difference is in the range of gambling games to be found in the casino gambling pages featured by the different sites. Many online casino gambling enthusiasts would argue that it is the smaller specialist online casino sites which offer the best range of casino gambling games, but there are a large number of sports gambling fans who also enjoy playing gambling games online and many of these online gambling customers prefer to do all their gambling in one place rather than having to register with a number of different sites. That is why the casino gambling section of the sports gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers has become so important to their success. It is also why the choice of casino software supplier has had such an influence on the popularity and success of the online gambling sites, because it is the software companies which provide most of the gambling games on each site.
The two bookmakers with the biggest high street presence in Ireland are of course Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, both of which operate successful online sports gambling sites with a good range of popular gambling games on their casino gambling pages. In common with the other bookmakers who also operate a chain of betting shops, Paddy Power began concentrating solely on sports gambling. Nowadays the Paddy Power site offers a full range of gambling options including traditional casino games, online poker, bingo and a massive selection of slots games mostly supplied by their chosen software partner Wagerworks. The Paddy Power online gambling site has proved to be just as popular in Ireland as their string of betting shops have been over the years, and they remain Ireland’s favourite bookmaker. Ladbrokes also have a big high street presence in Ireland and the UK, and again offer their customers a huge range of gambling options. The Ladbrokes online poker and online bingo sites have both established an excellent reputation among online gaming fans, and Ladbrokes also provides access to a wide range of international lotteries. Another bookmaker with a chain of betting shops is Betfred. Much smaller than either Paddy Power or Ladbrokes, but Betfred has grown from a private company with just one betting shop to a major player operating over 800 shop as well as an excellent online gambling site which they established in 2004. Again it is a site popular with bingo fans, and Betfred also operates a special online poker platform for beginners which is a very welcome feature in this era of increasing popularity for poker.
As we have already commented earlier in this article, not all the big bookmakers which now dominate the online gambling scene have a high street presence. Party Gaming for instance is involved solely in the online gambling sector. Their most famous individual gambling brands are Party Poker, Party casino and Party Gammon, all of which are of course specialising in online gambling games, but they also have a specialist sports gambling brand known as Party Bets. Bwin is another online bookmaker specialising primarily in online casino gambling, as is 888. Neither of these online bookmakers have a high street presence, but they are both very popular in the online casino gambling sector, and they have both have also used sports sponsorship in football to establish their brand name with the public. The online bookmakers which do not offer sports gambling facilities are of course in competition with the increasing number of smaller specialist online casino gambling sites which have recently become available in Ireland, so we will see how they are affected.