It is probably fair to assume that very few of us are not familiar with at least the rudiments of computers and tablets, and how to use them to access the internet. It also sometimes appears that the entire population of Ireland has a mobile phone, many of which can also be used to access the internet on the move. We are rapidly becoming more and more dependent on being able to get online, both at work and during our leisure time. Even those people who do not use the internet as part of their leisure activities may well do things like shopping online to help create more leisure time for themselves and their family. Here at gambling.ie we are of course interested in how traditional leisure activities such as gambling on horse racing or playing casino games are now very much part of the online experience for many of us here in Ireland. It is fair to say that the first businesses to recognise the opportunities that the internet presented were the big retailers, but the leading bookmakers were not that far behind in establishing an online presence and have not looked back since. The turnover from online gambling has grown year after year, and now represents a very large proportion of the turnover of all the major bookmakers. The first online gambling sites set up by the big bookmakers were of course targeted at their existing sports gambling customers, but as with many other online trading sectors it quickly became apparent that there was also a potential new audience receptive to the idea of gambling on sports and sporting events online. Clearly some of these people had not been gambling before because they did have easy access to a betting shop, so the opportunity to gamble online presented an option they had not had before. For others it was the much greater range of sports gambling options available online which appealed to them. Most of the high street betting shops operated the bookmakers tended to concentrate on horse racing, greyhound racing and football, whereas the online sports gambling sites offered gambling options on a huge range of different sports and sporting events. Sports previously considered to be minority sports in terms of gambling interest, such as golf, snooker and even our own GAA sports were now easily accessible for sports gambling fans and consequently spurred their interest. Added to that increase in the range of different sports we could follow was the fact that we were no longer restricted to only following our favourite sports at a particular time of year because they were in season. The online sports gambling sites offered us the chance to gamble on sporting events taking place all over the world. There is no doubt that one of the biggest reasons why online gambling has proved so successful is the huge increase in choices, both in terms of sports and sporting events and even more obvious in the range of gambling games we can now play online. Following the successful launch of their online sports gambling sites the major bookmakers decided to try and maximise the returns on their investment in online gambling technology by introducing some gambling games onto their sites. This created what we now call the online casino gambling sector, which has since grown faster than any other form of online gambling. All the traditional casino games such as roulette and blackjack are now available for casino fans to play online, plus a variety of numbers games based on bingo to appeal to the huge existing bingo fan base and of course hundreds of different slots games. It is not difficult to identify why the online casino gambling sites have proved to be so successful.
All the leading bookmakers now operate a casino gambling section as part of their online sports gambling sites, including of course Paddy Power and Ladbrokes which are the two bookmakers with the biggest high street presence in Ireland. Over the last couple of years however we have also seen a number of much smaller specialist online casino gambling sites come on stream, specialising solely on providing a diverse range of gambling games rather than trying to satisfy the needs of both sports gambling and casino gambling fans. When the big bookmakers started to introduce gambling games on their sites they also dramatically increased the importance of their software suppliers, because almost all the slots games they feature on their sites have been designed and supplied by one of the online casino software companies. By far the biggest of these software companies is Playtech, and much of the reason for their success lies in the licensing agreements they were able to negotiate with media companies such as Marvel and Paramount. This enabled them to base some of their slots games on well-known comic characters and popular films. Ladbrokes, William Hill and Betfred all currently feature slots games supplied by Playtech. Paddy Power however chose to use a company known as Wagerworks, a decision that proved to be a good one because they were able to offer a number of exclusive slots games which were not available on the other major bookmakers’ sites. One of the problems faced by all the leading bookmakers developing the online casino gambling element of their sites was that they were all starting to look very similar, with many almost identical games. Some such as Ladbrokes have been able to develop additional specialist sites such as their popular poker forum and 24 hour bingo platform, but others have remained a little static in terms of development. This is part of the reason why specialist online casino gambling sites such as the All Irish casino have been able to compete with the big bookmakers. The All Irish casino offers slots games from a company called NetEntertainment, whereas another of the new entrants to the sector, CasinoLand for instance uses several different software companies to provide their range of gambling games. Paddy Power and Ladbrokes are still big players in the casino gambling sector but there are now smaller companies snapping at their heels.