There are so many different opinions as to whether the widespread availability of the internet and the increasing affordability of the devices we now use to access it has been a good influence on our behaviour or not. Certainly the attachment that many of our younger generation seem to have with their mobile phones is cause for concern for some, but others will point out that they do at least communicate with their peers even if that communication is not face to face for much of the time. Many observers are beginning to comment that this lack of face to face contact is also apparent in many other aspects of our lives since we embraced the idea of using the internet for so many of our daily tasks. Many people now work from home for example, rarely actually meeting their work colleagues face to face. Many of us no longer go shopping on the high street, and even do our supermarket shop online which again limits our contact with other people apart from close family. Even some of our leisure activities have been moved from a face to face contact experience to becoming a remote activity which we now do alone. Our gambling for instance is a perfect example of how the internet has changed the experience. In Ireland gambling on horse racing has always been our favourite sports gambling activity, and for most of us that meant dealing with bookmakers at the tracks or visiting our local betting shop to place our bets. In both cases we were communicating face to face with the bookmakers or their employees in the betting shop, some of whom we may well have got to know through regular contact. This personal contact was probably even more apparent for casino gambling fans playing in our real casinos where chatting to the dealers was usually part of the evening’s entertainment. Regular visitors to the bingo clubs would also say that much of the fun was meeting other players and having a chat. When our leading bookmakers decided to provide us with the option to do our gambling online, one of the unintended effects of that decision was to make gambling a more solitary experience for many people. That is particularly true of the new online casino gambling fraternity, many of whom have probably never played gambling games anywhere other than online. Perhaps as with mobile phones we have to accept that the advantages of being able to do our sports gambling or play gambling games online far outweigh the perceived downsides. The most obvious advantage of using the online gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers is the huge increase in choice compared to a real casino or even a high street betting shop. There is no doubt that sports gambling fans are now able to follow a much bigger range of sports and sporting events than ever before. They can even place bets on sporting events taking place on the other side of the world, so that certainly from a sports gambling point of view there are no longer summer and winter games with limited seasons. The biggest increase in choice as a result of the introduction of online gambling however, is in the number of different gambling games now available online. The gambling sector which we now refer to as online casino gambling was almost created as an afterthought. The first online gambling sites set up by the big bookmakers were entirely focussed on their sports gambling customers. It was only when the bookmakers started to look for ways to improve their returns on their investments in online gambling that we started to see gambling games being added to their sports gambling sites. The idea of being able to play a range of gambling games online as well as gambling on our favourite sports proved extremely popular with their existing customers, but also attracted a whole new group of gambling fans and the online casino was born.
The bookmakers who were operating those early online gambling sites began to add more and more gambling games and it wasn’t long before many of the big sites featured over a hundred different games for their customers to enjoy. Putting a range of gambling games on an internet site is however not as easy as offering a range of sports gambling options and requires a whole different form of software. As the bookmakers wanted more gambling games, particularly slots games the online casino software suppliers became more and more important. Companies such as Playtech grew to become almost as big as the leading bookmakers who were operating the sites, and still dominate the casino software sector. William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfred all still predominately feature slots gambling games supplied by Playtech, and many casino gambling fans are now worried that this sort of dominance actually leads to less choice in the long run because many of the games are almost identical on a variety of different sites. When it comes to choosing an online casino gambling site it is the range of gambling games featured on each site that is the deciding factor, so the choice of casino software supplier can be the most important decision made by the operating bookmakers. Paddy Power is undoubtedly Ireland’s favourite bookmaker, and their online casino gambling site has benefitted from their choice of a company called Wagerworks to supply their slots games from the very start, so they have been able to offer a significantly different range of games. Nowadays of course the online casino gambling sector is no longer dominated by the big bookmakers, with smaller casino gambling sites such as the All Irish casino coming on stream. Most of these smaller specialist casino gambling sites feature a range of gambling games supplied by several different casino software companies, and their introduction has both improved the choice of games we can play online and also reduced the influence of the big bookmakers on the online casino gambling sector.