As we start to read more and more reports about how the science of robotics has now advanced to the stage of being able to produce affordable domestic robots capable of doing domestic chores and responding to spoken questions, perhaps it is time to take stock of where computer technology has already taken us. Personal internet access has become so widespread in Ireland and across the world that many are asking whether it is becoming almost impossible to live without it. Almost every service provider regularly attempts to persuade us that we should manage all our business with them online instead of receiving our accounts through the post, and even government departments seem to be following the same trend. The success of online retailing has forced all the major high street chains to enable their customers to browse and purchase products online, and even the weekly shop at the local supermarket is quickly becoming a thing of the past for many people. In the midst of this seemingly unstoppable rush towards everybody having to have access to the internet in order to survive, we have also seen a steady rise in the number of people gambling online. In fact the leading bookmakers were amongst the early entrants to the concept of trading online as well as through the high street. Here at gambling.ie we have seen the big bookmakers gradually increase their online revenue as a percentage of their total turnover, and their investment in their online gambling sites has also grown significantly over the years. There are now a huge number of online gambling sites available in Ireland, covering everything from sports gambling to playing gambling games at one of the new specialist online casino sites which have come on stream more recently, but it was the big bookmakers who first made online gambling possible. The first online gambling sites were all established by the leading bookmakers and were all aimed at their existing sports gambling customer base. However it quickly became apparent that the convenience of being able to place a bet online rather than through a high street betting shop was actually attracting a new group of customers. Many have expressed the opinion that the next stage in the development of online gambling was a bit of a gamble for the bookmakers themselves, but we would now see it as more of a natural development of what was proving to be a popular idea. We are referring of course to the decision taken by some of the bookmakers to add a few gambling games to their online sports gambling sites. This decision was primarily an attempt to get more out of their initial investment in online gambling by offering more gambling options to their existing customers, but once again the idea of being able to play gambling games from home appealed to yet another new group of people and the idea of online casino gambling was born. As with many other internet trading sectors the initial appeal was primarily the convenience of being able to gamble on sporting events or play casino games from home, but the bookmakers quickly discovered that they could easily offer far more gambling options through their online sites than they ever could hope to do through their betting shops. The same applied of course to the range of gambling games they could offer compared to a real casino, bingo club or slot machine arcade.
There is no doubt that sports gambling fans were delighted that they were no longer restricted to gambling on horse racing, greyhounds or football, and could follow a huge range of alternative sports and sporting events through any of the online sports gambling sites operated by bookmakers such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and of course Paddy Power. The problem for the bookmakers however was that all of these sports gambling sites were remarkably similar so it was difficult to make their site stand out from the crowd. It was only when they started to introduce the gambling games that they were able to offer something different compared to their rivals. The range of gambling games they could offer immediately became the most important element of operating an online gambling site, and of course that depended on their choice of software supplier. Before online casino gambling was introduced the software was only required to manage the financial aspects of the site, but designing and supplying a range of gambling games required a whole new set of skills. The need to rapidly increase the number of gambling games they could offer their customers in order to keep up with their rivals meant that most of the new online gambling games were slots games in different forms and with a variety of themes. This meant that when Playtech were able to negotiate a licensing agreement with major media companies such as Marvel and Paramount, they were immediately in a position to dominate a market which wanted more and more themed slots games. Fortunately although Playtech still hold a dominant position in the online casino gambling sector, not every bookmaker chose to offer gambling games provided by the biggest casino software company. Paddy Power for instance chose to use a smaller company called Wagerworks to design and supply their casino gambling games, which meant that many of the games were exclusive to their site. The idea of commissioning a range of gambling games from smaller software companies has recently been actively followed by most of the new specialist online casino sites we have seen come on stream, but many of the big online gambling sites operated by the leading bookmakers are still dominated by Playtech in one way or another. Ladbrokes is of course well known in Ireland because of their large chain of high street betting shops, and many of their gambling games are now supplied by Playtech, but they do have an excellent poker platform and a 24 hour Bingo forum which is also very popular. The other major bookmakers who operate online gambling sites include William Hill, Betfred, Bwin and 888 Holdings all of which have their own unique approach.