Man Playing at Online CasinoFew things in the world of gambling have been quite as game changing as online casinos, so it’s little wonder that they’re one of the main places that most people go to when they’re looking for somewhere to play casino games that isn’t an actual physical casino. They are, as you might expect, electronic versions of the real thing that are located on the world wide web.

The fact that they’re online rather than the real thing doesn’t mean that the rules that apply to them are any less stringent. You still need to be able to prove that you’re eighteen-years-old or older before you can play any of the games, for example. The good news is that what online casinos lack in tactility they make up for in terms of options, given that every game available tends to have numerous types for you to choose from.

The Growth of Online Casinos

Online casino concept

People have been gambling in one form or another pretty much since man was first able to communicate. Whilst they might have used the food that they’d caught or weapons that they’d created as stake money in the days of the caveman, the desire to try to get one over on their competitors was still very much there. Given the desire of human beings to place a bet, therefore, it’s hardly surprising that online casinos began to spring up as soon as the internet became a going concern.

The Mid-1990s

The mid-1990s saw the launch of a couple of sportsbooks that operated online and one or two casinos, but they weren’t immediately popular and people weren’t exactly convinced that they could trust this newly launched technology. If nothing else, the poor graphics and slow loading times of websites meant that it wasn’t much of a fun experience to gamble online in the early days. It wasn’t really until the speed of the internet improved and people’s computers got better that a desire for more online casinos grew.

Microgaming, Cryptologic & Playtech Launch

The industry truly began to hit its stride after the turn of the millennium when companies such as Microgaming, Cryptologic and Playtech launched and offered their software solutions for the games that were played in online casinos. Gamblers still weren’t totally sure about which companies could be trusted, turning to guides and forums to see what other players were saying about a given site. Obviously things are very different in the modern era, where there are a plethora of review sites to use.

Might the Bubble Burst?

Partial view of the famous Las Vegas sign

The obvious question that someone looking at the online gambling industry’s growth in recent years might be tempted to ask is whether or not the bubble is likely to burst at some point in the future. The industry has seen its profits go up year on year, with advances in technology and the proliferation of mobile devices and tablets meaning that people can use online casinos pretty much anywhere and at any time. Transparency Market Research believe that that means that the industry is likely to reach around £120 billion globally by 2026.

The US Market Opens Up

A big part of the reason that the industry is expected to continue to grow in the short to medium term is the fact that the United States of America’s Supreme Court made a decision in 2018 to strike down a ban on betting in most states, meaning that the American market is now seen as fertile ground. British companies, which were the biggest earners from the online gambling craze in the 2010s, have been positioning themselves to take advantage of the new-look landscape of American gambling.

Problem Gambling

Not that that means that the bubble will never burst, of course. It has become more and more common to read stories in the newspapers about people who have a gambling problem and have seen that problem become exacerbated by the ability to place bets online. Whilst the industry has made some moves to curb that problem, the most vulnerable are still finding themselves betting more money than they can afford to lose and so the criticisms of the online betting industry aren’t likely to go away.

Online Casinos Can Offer More Variety of Games

Casino Game Selection

We’re looking at the games available at online casinos elsewhere on this site, so we’re not going to go into too much detail about the topic here. Yet it is worth mentioning the sheer variety of games that online casinos are able to offer. Obviously physical casinos offer a specific type of experience and the biggest ones have an ability to promise plenty of game types, but unless you’re talking about a Las Vegas super casino the amount of real estate available to physical casinos will always be limited.

Limitless Games

The same is not true of online casinos. A website is only limited by how much traffic it’s able to handle, meaning that online casino operates can offer a virtually limitless amount of games for punters to get their teeth in to. Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing, of course, but for most punters the reality is that they’ll have specific games that they enjoy playing and are most likely to head to the website that offers it. That means that operators need to ensure that they have as many bases covered as possible.

Live Casino Gaming

One of the key questions for online casino companies is about whether or not to offer live casino gaming. It is becoming more and more commonplace to do so, but not everyone actually likes it and they are more expensive games to run because physical property needs to be hired to host the live tables and real people need to be paid to present them. For that reason operators have to think carefully about whether they think they’re likely to bring in enough punters to make it worth their while financially.

The Games That Tend to Be Available Online

Roulette variations

Move to an online casino and you’ll find a host of different gaming options available to you. Which game you’ll be able to play isn’t really the key question, with which variety of that game it is that you want to get involved with that you’ll have to decide. The likes of three card poker, roulette and blackjack are the most popular games, so there are often dozens of varieties of those games for you to pick and choose from.

Popular Games Offered in Multiple Formats

Of course, where online casinos really come into their own is when it comes to the slightly more unusual games that you might enjoy playing. The likes of mahjong, baccarat and sic bo are offered in different formats by most online casinos. Varieties of games that you might think you know well like roulette are such that it seems almost like a different game when you actually see how it’s played in some online casinos.

Video Poker & Slots

Then there are the video poker and slot games that lend themselves to being played in different ways thanks to ease with which manufacturers can swap the skin and seemingly create an entirely different version of the same game. Certainly slot games are plentiful and numerous, arguably offering more variety than any other game played online. It is a feast for those of you that enjoy electronic slots or computerised video poker, which is why it’s one of the most popular offerings in most casinos.

The Different Brands

Paddy Power high street shop

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Whilst it’s certainly not easy to get a gambling licence from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, it is easy enough to mean that there are a huge number of online casinos from you to choose from. Some sites even offer you White Label solutions, whereby they provide the gambling platform and all you need to do is put a skin of your own on top of that to make it unique. For that reason, not every gambling operator is trustworthy and you should be selective in which company’s expertise you use.

Well Known Vs Lesser Known Brands

Well-known companies like Paddy Power Betfair (now Flutter Entertainment) and William Hill sit towards the top of the pile, but other lesser-known ones are also part of the conversation. Take International Game Technology, for example, which is a company that creates the technology used by most of the big boys and earned more than £4 billion in 2018. It’s a similar story for software provider Scientific Games, which made over £3 billion in 2018.

Merges Are Common

It has become more and more common for gambling companies to merge with each other in recent times, leading to a powerhouse such as GVC Holdings becoming one of the biggest companies thanks to mergers between Ladbrokes and Coral and other much-loved bookmakers. Indeed, it’s becoming rarer and rarer for online casino owners to not have merged with an opposition company at some point, which is why the likes of the Kindred Group and 888 Holdings are also on the list of the richest and most influential online casino operators.

Biggest Gambling Groups in the UK

Group Brands
Kindred Group 32Red, Unibet, Roxy Palace + Others
GVC Holdings Ladbrokes, Coral, Gala, Betdaq
Flutter Betfair & Paddy Power
888 Holdings 888 + Others