Many historians would argue that it was the twentieth century which saw the fastest and most influential advances in technology, but so far the twenty first century is looking as though some areas are going to grow even faster. The developments in computer technology for instance has been remarkable, firstly with laptops rapidly replacing our PC’s, followed by tablets and lastly of course mobile phones capable of accessing the internet from anywhere with a WiFi signal. We can now communicate with family, friends and business associates wherever they are in the world even while we are also on the move. Most young people today could not even imagine a world when many people did not even have a phone at home and public phones were on every street corner. Although the devices we now use to access the internet have changed dramatically over recent years, many would still argue that it is the internet itself which has had the biggest effect on how we live our lives. We can now do most of the boring essentials of modern living online, such as banking, paying bills and even our weekly shop so that hopefully we then have more leisure time at our disposal. That of course is another area of our lives where easy access to the internet has changed how many of us spend our free time. We can book a huge range of entertainment activities online, hotels and restaurants, airline tickets, the list is endless and they can all be done on our modern mobile devices if we want to. However the leisure activity which interests us most here at gambling.ie is of course gambling. There is no doubt that widespread access to the internet has had a very significant effect on how we enjoy our gambling here in Ireland, and of course elsewhere in the world. It is less than twenty years ago that our leading bookmakers decided that they could no longer ignore the internet, and that they had to follow in the footsteps of the big high street retailers by enabling their customers to do business online. The biggest advantage of being able to shop online is clearly convenience, but when it came to gambling online we also saw a big increase in our gambling options. The first online gambling sites introduced by our major bookmakers were obviously focused entirely on sports gambling, because that was their only customer base at the time. The idea was of course very successful and a lot of their existing sports gambling customers were only too happy to place their bets online. It also quickly became apparent that the online sports gambling sites were able to offer a much bigger range of sports and sporting events for us to follow than the traditional betting shops. We were suddenly not restricted to gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing or football, we could access information on a variety of other sports and sporting events from anywhere in the world.
The next stage in the development of online gambling also saw a huge increase in our gambling options. The success of their online sports gambling sites prompted the leading bookmakers to experiment and try to make better use of their established sites. The outcome of this was that a few gambling games were also introduced on these sports gambling sites to test whether their customers would be interested in playing gambling games online. We now know of course that not only were their existing customers keen to try playing these gambling games, but there was a whole new audience out there and the online casino was born. There is very little difference between the sports gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers, apart from a few special offers or slightly different odds, but the range of casino gambling games does vary quite significantly from site to site. Nowadays many people choose which of the online gambling sites operated by the bookmakers to use solely on the basis of their range of gambling games. The fact that the range of casino gambling games has become so important is also why the some of the software companies have become so influential in the online gambling sector, because it is the software companies who design and supply the games. Playtech for instance now supply casino gambling games to a number of online gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers, so when Paddy Power chose to use Wagerworks to supply their casino gambling games it proved to be a very good decision because many of their games are not available on other sites. We should point out that when we are talking about the differing ranges of gambling games to be found on the various sites, we are primarily referring to the slots games rather than the more traditional casino games. All the online gambling sites operated by the leading bookmakers are of course in direct competition with each other, so they can’t just rely on the range of gambling games they offer to attract customers they need to market their sites in other ways. In Ireland of course Paddy Power have a huge advantage because of their extensive high street presence in terms of numbers of betting shops, but they have also established a reputation for unusual and sometimes controversial marketing stunts.
The other bookmaker with a big high street presence in Ireland is Ladbrokes, and there is no doubt that the Ladbrokes online gambling sites are popular here, particularly the online poker forum and their 24 hour bingo platform.
The other leading bookmakers who operate online gambling sites available in Ireland are William Hill, Betfred, Bwin and 888 Holdings, of which only Betfred have betting shops here. The rest rely on other marketing techniques to attract attention. Bwin for instance are very well known amongst football supporters because of their shirt sponsorship deals with two of the biggest clubs in Europe, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. As far as William Hill is concerned they are probably the biggest bookmaker in the world, so perhaps do not need to try too hard.