Nowadays when people discuss gambling and the gambling industry they are almost inevitably referring to the big bookmakers who have dominated the gambling sector for so many years. That has not however always been the case and it is not that many years ago that sports gambling in particular was the preserve of small independent bookmakers and the “runners” they employed as contacts with their customers. In those days of course almost every example of gambling within the general population was confined to horse racing or greyhound racing, and most of it would probably have been with trackside bookmakers rather than the high street bookmakers we know today. Gambling has of course been a popular human activity throughout our history so we should probably not be surprised that it has become a major industry which now employs thousands of people all over the world, or that it has become the subject of major corporate investment through the major bookmakers we recognise today. Again the growth of the major bookmakers has been based almost entirely on sports gambling through their high street betting shops, focused on those of us who were for whatever reason not able to attend the horse racing or greyhound racing tracks in person but still enjoyed a flutter. It is only relatively recently that we have seen another major change in the role of the major bookmakers in the gambling industry, and that is entirely due to the influence of the internet and online gambling. As the internet became more widely available across the country the big bookmakers realised that they had to offer their customers the chance to do their sports gambling online rather than having to visit their nearest betting shop. Initially it was the bookmakers we knew from their high street presence who set up the first online sports gambling sites, but we then quickly saw the first of many developments in the sector with the introduction of internet only bookmakers who had no betting shops at all. The next stage in the development of the online gambling sector came when the bookmakers began to add a few gambling games to their online sports gambling sites, so beginning what we now know as the online casino gambling sector. Again it was not long before the big bookmakers who first began to offer online gambling games to their customers were joined by yet another breed of bookmakers, this specifically concentrated on providing online casino gambling with no interest in sports gambling whatsoever.
We now have a situation therefore in which the major high street bookmakers no longer have a monopoly within the gambling industry, particularly when it comes to online gambling. That is not to say however that the big high street names are not still serious players in the gambling sector, they are very much still in the game. In Ireland of course the biggest and most popular bookmaker by far is of course Paddy Power, and they still have a huge presence on our high streets with more betting shops than any other bookmaker. They also operate a hugely successful online sports gambling site which also features an equally big selection of online casino gambling games. Paddy Power have built their following on some extremely innovative marketing strategies over recent years and like to be known as the “punter friendly bookmaker“. The Paddy Power web site offers just about every form of gambling you could wish for, from bingo to financial spread betting, they cover it all. Next up in terms of recognition through their high street betting shops in Ireland has to be Ladbrokes. Ladbrokes is probably the biggest of all the bookmakers operating in Ireland and the UK, and also probable one of the oldest with roots that can be traced back to the late 19th century. Ladbrokes were one of the first bookmakers to go online and are credited with a number of original online features. They cover a massive range of sports and sporting events from all around the world and their range of gambling games is second to none. The Ladbrokes poker site is particularly popular among serious poker fans, as is their 24 hour online bingo site. The only other bookmaker with a significant number of betting shops in Ireland is Betfred. Started by two brothers with just one betting shop Betfred has now grown into a major bookmaker with over 800 betting shops across Ireland and the UK. They like to be known as the “Bonus King” and love to keep their customers engaged through a whole series of quirky bets and original bonus offers. Again the Betfred online gambling site offers a huge range of gambling options across the board with a number of different bingo games among many other favourites on their online casino gambling site.
Irish casino gambling enthusiasts are also enthusiastic supporters of some of the big internet based bookmakers with online gambling sites accessible over here. Party Gaming for instance offers a huge range of online gambling games as well as sports gambling through their Party Bets site. The best known online gambling site operated by Party Gaming is probably their Party Poker site, although Party Casino and Party Gammon do not lag far behind. Another of the rapidly expanding online only bookmakers is Bwin. As with many of the internet based bookmakers who do not have a high street presence Bwin has used sports sponsorship to establish their brand awareness across the world, in this case through their shirt sponsorship deal with two of the biggest football clubs in Europe, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Clearly the Bwin online gambling site covers the whole range of sports gambling options, but they have also established a good reputation for their online poker platforms, including an excellent site for beginners. To be honest there is often very little difference between any of the online sports gambling sites operated by the leading bookmakers, and it tends to be the range of gambling games they offer that determines their popularity in the long run.