After many years of arguments between the anti-gambling lobby and the leading bookmakers over whether the fixed odds terminals installed in their high street betting shops are feeding some people’s gambling addiction, one of the big bookmakers appears to have broken ranks with the others. Here at gambling.ie we have become accustomed to Paddy Power consistently attempting to stand out from the other big bookmakers by using a wide variety of interesting and unusual schemes and marketing ploys, but this time they really have caught everyone by surprise. According to recent newspaper reports Paddy Power have decided to go it alone by significantly reducing the maximum stake per game on the fixed odds terminals in all their betting shops. One of the principle arguments against these gambling machines has always been that the permitted stakes on each game is too high and it is therefore possible to lose a great deal of money in a very short time. Paddy Power clearly hope that by agreeing to voluntarily reduce the maximum stakes it will take the political pressure off and allow them to continue to site these machines in the shops. All the major bookmakers who manage a chain of betting shops have always said that since online gambling became widely available, these fixed odds gambling terminals are essential to support the very existence of their high street shops and the thousands of jobs associated with them. Whether the other bookmakers follow Paddy Power’s lead, and even if they do whether this proposal will be enough to relieve the pressure, we will have to wait and see. The pressure on high street premises as a result on the widespread availability of the internet is of course not solely a problem for the gambling industry, almost every high street retailer has had to establish an online presence and change the way they do business, and the big bookmakers are no different. There are of course some bookmakers who do not have a significant high street presence, certainly in Ireland where Paddy Power and Ladbrokes dominate the market, but all the leading players in the gambling sector now operate online gambling sites. The big bookmakers were all established on the back of our love of sports gambling, particularly here in Ireland where gambling on horse racing is almost a national pastime, so it was no surprise that the first online gambling sites were specifically targeted at their existing sports gambling customers, most of whom placed their bets at or through their local betting shop. Since then of course we have seen the original online sports gambling sites grow bigger and bigger through the introduction of gambling games, and the creation of what we now refer to as online casino gambling. When the leading bookmakers realised how popular their online sports gambling sites were becoming, they started to look for ways to increase the returns on their financial investment in online gambling, and in retrospect the idea of introducing a few gambling games was a fairly obvious answer. After all most of our real casinos were successful and in spite of a few problems arising from the smoking ban, the bingo clubs were also well supported. The potential customer base for online gambling games therefore already existed in much the same way as for their online sports gambling sites. Nowadays of course all the online gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers offer a huge range of gambling games within the casino gambling section of the site, and the majority of these new online gambling games are slots games in one form or another. Clearly these online slots games are also designed to appeal to an existing fan base because very few of us have never played a slot machine at some time in our lives, and they have always been popular ever since the original penny arcades we found at the seaside.
As you can see on the home page of our site here at gambling.ie there are now many more online gambling sites than there used to be, and the sites operated by the big bookmakers have been joined by a number of smaller specialised online casino gambling sites which do not offer any sports gambling options at all. Log on to any of the online sports sites operated by the bookmakers and you will see that there is very little difference between them in terms of the sports and sporting events they feature, so it is their range of gambling games which has become the most important aspect of the competition with their rivals for our attention. This is also where the online casino software companies now have a huge influence on the gambling sector, because all the slots games we now find online have been designed and supplied by these casino software companies. Many of the online slots games are also based on popular films or cartoon characters, and this is only possible because the software companies have been able to negotiate licensing agreements with the copyright holders. Playtech for instance has become the dominant software company in the online casino gambling sector, and this was the direct result of their agreements with two of the largest media companies in the world. William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfred all currently feature slots games supplied by Playtech on their online gambling sites, whereas Paddy Power offer what has proved to be a successful range of gambling games supplied by Wagerworks. As we have already pointed out the sports gambling elements of the online gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers have become very similar in content, but the dominance of one or two large software companies who supply most of the online gambling games also threatens to reduce the our choices. That is why the new specialist online casino gambling sites have proved so successful because they feature gambling games supplied by a number of different casino software companies. In fact some even feature gambling games from a number of different suppliers on the same site.