The gambling industry has been continually evolving over many years, but the introduction of online gambling has undoubtedly accelerated that change. Even our understanding of the word “bookmakers” has changed over time, let alone what they are actually doing nowadays. For most of us the original bookmakers were the guys standing by the rails and taking our bets at the horse racing or greyhound tracks. We then saw the rise of the big bookmakers who brought sports gambling to our high streets with large numbers of betting shops being opened up in our towns and cities. These leading bookmakers were also responsible for introducing the first online gambling sites to the gambling scene, initially aimed primarily at their sports gambling customers but later expanded to include large numbers of gambling games in what we now call online casino gambling. The introduction of online gambling also led to a number of new companies joining the online gambling industry, but they were not bookmakers in the traditional sense because they did not operate any betting shops or have a presence at any race tracks, they were accessible solely on the internet. There is now very little obvious difference between the online gambling sites operated by our traditional high street bookmakers and those set up by the online only bookmakers. All of these online gambling sites offer a full range of sports gambling options together with a huge choice of gambling games in their casino gambling sections. The online gambling industry is clearly now a very competitive market and we have far more options when it comes to where we choose to enjoy our online gambling. During the early days of online gambling the bookmakers such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes with a big high street presence in Ireland clearly had an advantage over the new internet bookmakers such as Bwin and 888 Holdings because their brand was so well known and recognised. The internet bookmakers had to find another way to market themselves, and many of them chose to use sports sponsorship to increase awareness of their brand. Bwin for instance are the shirt sponsors for two of the biggest football clubs in Europe, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and 888 have also been very successful by sponsoring many televised sporting events. It is however not just the online sports gambling specialist bookmakers who are new to the online gambling sector. The online casino gambling sector has also attracted a number of new specialist companies, and although it is debateable whether we should refer to them as bookmakers they are certainly making their presence felt in the casino gambling area of the online gambling industry. In view of the fact that there are now so many bookmakers and others offering online sports gambling and casino gambling options, here at gambling.ie we feel we need to try to identify at least some of the best sites for our Irish readers.
Clearly when discussing bookmakers with a substantial presence in Ireland we have to begin with Paddy Power. Formed in 1998 and listed on both the Irish and UK stock markets, Paddy Power has over 200 betting shops in Ireland and started life concentrating solely on sports gambling. The Paddy Power online casino gambling site is however now very popular and offers a full range of gambling games, including poker and bingo. The Paddy Power online gambling site also offers their customers a financial spread betting option to complement a huge range of slots games supplied by their main casino software company Wagerworks.
When it comes to our high street bookmakers here in Ireland, the second biggest company has to be Ladbrokes. Almost certainly the biggest bookmaker in the UK, Ladbrokes takes the Irish gambling market very seriously and their online sports gambling options include all the GAA sports. Ladbrokes also have an excellent online poker platform and a specialist 24 hour online bingo site for insomniacs with a love of bingo.
The only other bookmaker with a high street presence in Ireland is Betfred, and although they have less betting shops in Ireland than either Paddy Power or Ladbrokes they are continuing to expand here and in the UK. The Betfred online gambling site was introduced in 2004 and their sports gambling section has become very popular for in-play sports betting. Their online casino gambling section is also very comprehensive and features all the traditional casino gambling games as well as a huge range of 3 and 5 reel slots. Betfred also specialise in lotteries and offer their customers the chance to gamble on lotteries from all over the world, including of course the Irish Lottery.
We now come to the internet only bookmakers starting with Bwin. Bwin is an Austrian company but their online gambling site is licensed like many others in the online gambling sector by the government of Gibraltar. Their sports gambling options cover a very wide field but it is their online casino gambling section which attracts the most praise. The graphics are excellent and their online poker tables are particularly popular for beginners. The Bwin online casino site also features a full range of dice games together with both Backgammon and Mahjong for lovers of the more skilful gambling games.
No audit of the online gambling site operators would be complete without considering the Party Gaming sites. Party Gaming is perhaps not particularly well known for sports gambling, although they do offer sports betting through their Party Bets site, but it is their online casino gambling options which define their popularity among online gambling fans. The Party Poker site is particularly popular among serious poker enthusiasts, but the Party Casino site also offers a huge range of other gambling games including a lot of slots games with rolling jackpots.
When the leading bookmakers first began to add a few gambling games to their online sports gambling sites they created a whole new area of online gambling, which has since become arguably the most popular of all forms of online gambling. Online casino gambling has also attracted many other site operators and further increased competition.