When online gambling was first introduced by the leading bookmakers it was aimed specifically at their existing sports gambling customers. They realised that the internet was becoming so much a part of peoples’ lives that they could no longer ignore it. At the time of course their customer base consisted almost entirely of sports gambling fans, and the majority of their income came through their high street betting shops. Investing in the technology and software necessary to operate an online sports gambling site was clearly going to have some effect on the footfall in those betting shops, but there were also significant potential benefits to be had in attracting new customers through being able to offer a much wider range of sports and sporting events. There is no doubt that offering more sports gambling options did attract more sports fans to the idea of gambling online, but it was the introduction of gambling games onto their sports gambling sites which undoubtedly had the biggest effect. Starting with just a few gambling games to encourage their sports gambling fans to spend longer on their sites, the site operators quickly realised that they had the opportunity to tap into a whole new customer base who may not have been particularly interested in sports gambling but were definitely open to the idea of playing gambling games online. It wasn’t long before the online gambling site operators began to add more and more different gambling games onto their sports gambling sites, and as a result the concept of online casino gambling became a reality. All the major bookmakers expanded their online sports gambling sites to include a wide range of gambling games, and it wasn’t long before the online gambling sector was joined by several new online gambling site operators. From the sports gambling point of view we saw several new online only bookmakers come on stream, but once again it was the casino gambling sector where the biggest influx of new operators was seen. In the same way as the online sports gambling sites were able to provide a much bigger choice of sports and sporting events, the range of gambling games offered on the increasing number of online casino gambling sites also expanded very rapidly. There is very little doubt that it was this huge range of different types of gambling games that was the driving force behind the success of online gambling as a whole. Initially of course the most obvious target audience for online casino gambling would have been the people who already enjoyed playing traditional gambling games such as roulette and blackjack at one of our real casinos. It was also true that regular visitors to our town centre bingo clubs would also be potential converts to the idea of playing the numbers gambling games which quickly became available online. These two existing groups of gaming fans clearly helped the idea of playing gambling games online get off the ground, but it was the increasing range of slots and video slots which provided the biggest surge in interest. Most online casino gambling sites now offer well over a hundred different slots and video slots within their featured range of gambling games, meaning that this type of game almost always forms the major part of every online casino gambling site.
Although many observers will always say that it was the slots games which led to the success of online casino gambling, it would be wrong to ignore the influence of the more traditional casino gambling games. Clearly the thousands of regular casino visitors in Ireland who enjoyed playing roulette and blackjack at their local casino were also attracted to the idea of playing their favourite games online, but the online casino gambling sites offered much more than any of our casinos were able to do. Fans of the traditional casino gambling games were suddenly able to access other traditional games such as baccarat, backgammon and even that American favourite craps. None of these traditional gambling games were ever available in Irish casinos, but all the new online casino gambling sites began to feature these exciting games within their range. Not many Irish casino regulars had ever had the opportunity to play these gambling games because our real casinos were usually too small to be able to allocate the necessary floor space. Of all the traditional gambling games which benefitted from the introduction of online casino gambling however, the game of poker has to be the most popular. Although the game of poker clearly has a long history particularly in America, the number of people playing poker regularly in Ireland had fallen dramatically over the years. Again this was partly due to the fact that our casinos were unable or unwilling to feature poker as a primary gambling game on their main casino floor. Since the introduction of online casino gambling however, the number of people playing poker online has risen dramatically and we have even seen a big increase in the number of people claiming to be professional or semi-professional poker players. Almost all the major poker tournaments are now oversubscribed, and many of them now run qualifying rounds before the main event so that potential players have to win a seat at the table. All these serious poker players tend to concentrate on the Texas Hold’em format of poker, because that is the version of the game now used at almost every poker tournament around the world. It is also the poker format most widely played on all the new online poker platforms which have become so popular in the last few years, but it is not the only version of poker featured on the online casino gambling sites. 5-card draw poker for instance is probably the most well-known of all the versions of poker, because it featured in so many of the westerns we used to watch. Most online casino gambling sites enable their players to play 5-card draw poker for fixed odds against the house, plus various versions of stud poker and we can even play Texas Hold’em against the house on most sites.