There was a time when most of our gambling here in Ireland was confined to gambling on sports and sporting events, particularly of course gambling on horse racing. It is also true that apart from the lucky minority who were able to watch the racing at the tracks and place their bets with on course bookmakers or the tote, most of the money we wagered on sports gambling was handled by just a few corporate bookmakers. The reason for this was of course that most of us did our sports gambling by either visiting our nearest betting shop or by arranging a telephone account with them. An extensive spread of betting shops was absolutely essential for the leading bookmakers and they were very numerous on many of our high streets. They still are very high profile of course but their importance to the success of the big bookmakers that own them is rapidly diminishing as more and more of us turn to doing our gambling online. Unlike some other business sectors however the effects of our increasing use of the internet have not seriously damaged the big bookmakers because they were also the first to introduce online sports gambling sites for their customers, and therefore retained their dominance of the market. There have been changes since those early days however, and although the online sports gambling market is still controlled by large corporate bookmakers they do not all operate high street betting shops, and a few of them are online bookmakers only and have never been in the betting shop business at all. There have also been big changes in what we now call the online casino gambling sector. Once again it was the leading bookmakers who first began to add gambling games to their online sports gambling sites, but when it comes to offering gambling games online they are also now facing competition from a number of new specialist online casino gambling providers as well as from other large bookmakers. Most of the big bookmakers now offer a huge range of sports gambling opportunities as well as a comprehensive range of gambling games on the same site. That means that their customers only need to register once and in most cases need only one account from which they can do their sports gambling and play a range of gambling games if they want to. Whilst here at gambling.ie we clearly recognise that this can be a big plus for many people, we also believe that there are good reasons to use more than one site particularly when it comes to playing gambling games online. Many of the most interesting online gambling games are only available on the small specialist casino gambling sites because they tend to feature games provided by the smaller casino software suppliers.
Here at gambling.ie we clearly focus most of our attention on the Irish online gambling scene, and therefore we could not report on the influence of the big bookmakers without beginning with Ireland’s biggest and most popular bookmaker Paddy Power. Like most of the other well-known bookmakers Paddy Power began in the late 1990’s by concentrating solely on sports gambling, initially through a chain of over two hundred betting shops and then through the introduction of their online sports gambling site. Nowadays their online casino gambling site features a full range of traditional casino gambling games, plus online bingo, poker and of course a vast array of slots games. In many peoples’ eyes Paddy Power are still best known for their imaginative marketing tactics and unusual betting options, but they remain very competitive across the whole spectrum of online gambling.
Next on our list of major influential bookmakers in Ireland would have to be Ladbrokes, again because they operate an extensive estate of betting shops on most of our high streets and are therefore a well-known brand. Ladbrokes are of course a very much older company than Paddy Power, and may well be the oldest of all the big bookmakers. The Ladbrokes online gambling site also has a full range of gambling options, but they also operate a very popular online poker site and a 24 hour online bingo platform for the many bingo fans amongst us.
Betfred is another bookmaker with a number of betting shops in Ireland, and they have also become very popular among online sports gambling fans for their regular bonus offers and for their in-play sports gambling options. Betfred also have an excellent online casino gambling section including a poker room for beginners and a variety of different bingo games and lotteries.
All of the bookmakers we have mentioned to date operate betting shop estates in Ireland as well as providing a full range of online gambling options, but as we have already said there are also a number of major specialist online only bookmakers. 888 Holdings for instance do not have a high street presence, but most sports fans will know the brand very well indeed through their sports sponsorship deals including several football shirt sponsorship contracts. Again the 888 online gambling site is very comprehensive with a wide range of sports and gambling games on offer. Although not of course an Irish company, the 888 site does cover all the GAA sports and have a separate section for Irish horse racing. Another online bookmaker known more for their sports sponsorship than anything else is Bwin. The Bwin online sports gambling site is very well supported and their online casino gambling section is also first class. The Bwin casino is another online casino gambling site to offer poker tables for beginners as well as a number of tournaments for the more experienced players. Also available on the Bwin site are backgammon and another skilful game of Mahjong. Last but not least of the online bookmakers we will mention in this article is Party Gaming. Party gaming are best known for their specialist casino gambling sites such as Party Poker, PartyGammon and Party Bets which is their sports gambling section. Party Casino is now also a very popular online casino gambling site and well worth a look.