There is no doubt that internet retailers have a huge advantage over their high street rivals, not only in terms of costs but also in the much greater selection of goods they are able to offer. Clearly many of the leading internet retailers still require large warehousing facilities to enable them to store and despatch the increased range of products they are selling, but an online retailer can also display their whole range whereas a high street retailer is always limited by space restrictions. The same advantages also apply to online gambling sites, particularly the online casino gambling sites which are able to offer their customers the opportunity to play a huge range of gambling games compared to any real casino or slot machine arcade. Even the American super casinos cannot compete with the range of gambling games now available on almost every online casino gambling site. Even sports gambling fans now have far more gambling options than ever before when they register with an online sports gambling site. Again it is the lack of physical space restrictions which allows the online sports gambling site operators to cover the massive range of sports and sporting events they offer on their sites. The reasons why the online gambling sites have become so popular are therefore exactly the same as those which have driven the success of the online retailers. Apart from the obvious advantage of convenience, every internet business can offer significantly more choice than their rivals. Before the leading bookmakers began to invest in their online sports gambling sites, most Irish sports gambling fans tended to restrict their gambling activities to horse racing and to a lesser extent greyhound racing. It is an interesting question as to whether this was because those were often the only sports featured in our betting shops, or whether the betting shops were actually responding to the preferences of their customers. Either way there is no doubt that sports gambling fans have welcomed the increased gambling options offered by the online sports gambling sites and now follow a much wider range of sports and sporting events. Horse racing is clearly still a firm favourite for many Irish sports gambling fans and probably always will be because horse racing has become part of our culture over the years and of course we now also have a thriving horse racing industry here in Ireland. Gambling on greyhound racing did suffer from a lack of investment in our tracks for a number of years, but that has now changed and an evening watching and gambling on greyhound racing has become an increasingly popular night out.
When discussing sports gambling it is no longer possible to ignore gambling on football. Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world and has therefore benefitted more than any other sport from the injection of money from the big television and media companies. In many countries around the world it is almost possible to watch football 24 hours a day, every day of the year so it is probably no surprise that gambling on football has also increased dramatically almost everywhere in the world. This overwhelming television coverage has also led to another development when it comes to our gambling activities relating to football, and that is that most of our football gambling concerns the big leagues in other parts of Europe rather than our own Irish leagues. When we are discussing the influence of television on our sports gambling activities we should also note how the game of snooker became so popular as a spectator sport because of television. We are also beginning to see a similar situation with the increasing television coverage of darts. Whenever a sport receives interest from the media companies it is always accompanied by an increase in gambling interest.
Our sports gambling is however not totally dependent on television coverage, the internet offers us the opportunity to follow a wide variety of sports from around the world and throughout the year. Our own GAA sports are of course popular here in Ireland but hurling and football now also attract gambling interest from the huge number of Irish ex pats around the world. Sports gambling enthusiasts are no longer restricted to particular sports or even seasons since the introduction of online sports gambling. There has for instance been a big increase in gambling on the traditional American sports. Baseball and American football games are now becoming increasingly popular sports among the online sports gambling community here in Ireland, and we are now even gambling on ice hockey and basketball online. Nowadays there appear to be very few sports that don’t attract gambling interest. The Irish sports gambling fans are now even gambling on cricket, although that is probably because we have seen rather more success on the cricket field recently. The popularity of particular sports is often dependent on how successful our international sides or individual players are on the world stage. Gambling on rugby has grown hugely as a result of the recent success of our national and provincial sides. Golf is another sports which has seen a similar surge in interest because of the success of Irish players. The fact that all these sports are now popular among Irish sports gambling fans is due to a number of different reasons, but the most obvious is that the advent of the online sports gambling sites has provided us with the opportunity to follow these sports. After all most sports fans will watch almost any sport or sporting event given the opportunity, and the more we watch them the more we begin to understand them and enjoy them. There was a time when most of us tended to concentrate on the sports we had actually had the opportunity to play at some time in our lives, but personal participation is no longer an important factor in our choice of sports to watch or to gamble on. We are now almost all armchair sports fans when it comes to our gambling options.