How online gambling became big business

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The first online gambling platform hit the internet around the time most people first started getting sent free AOL trial CD-ROMs. Following legislation passed in Antigua and Barbuda, gambling platforms first hit the internet in 1994. While 2018’s statistics have yet to be published, the exponential growth of the industry has led to predictions of online gambling raising $56 billion—a $5.5 billion increase on the year before.

As a result of the obvious risks around online gambling, tighter restrictions by legal bodies around the world have made the industry safer, and actually served to boost its profit making potential. Still, when the first online gambling platforms hit the internet, it’s unlikely that anyone responsible anticipated creating such a huge windfall. Here are three ways that gambling online became a multi-billion dollar industry.

Online gambling has made betting a social activity

Whether it involves pumping coins into a fruit machine or sitting silently at a poker table, real world gambling is inherently a solitary pursuit. The internet has turned it into an easily-shared experience, and thanks to the stricter regulations around gaming, some of the stigma around gambling itself has been removed altogether.

This has also brought lesser known ways of collaborative betting into the public consciousness. Companies such as Lotto Social help operate online lotto syndicates, which allow groups of people to pool their money to buy lottery tickets together and split the winnings in proportion to how much each person has contributed. The UK Gambling Commission has also noted that, unlike most other forms of online betting, social gambling is actually a far safer way to play than other more isolated games.

More gaming options means more money is generated

One of the main benefits of online gambling compared to its offline counterpart is the sheer variety of games which are available to players. From card games and traditional betting to online slot machines, the options available to online gamblers far outstrip those one can find in a brick-and-mortar casino. Indeed, this is having a detrimental impact on some real life gambling spots.

The convenience of being able to play any game at the touch of a button means that gamblers no longer have to visit a casino to play roulette, then place a sports bet elsewhere on another day, and so forth. Instead, users can get involved in these games all at once, often via one single website or app. Sure, online gambling platforms don’t have the additional perks of real life casinos, like a bar or hotel, but the diversity in the games they offer encourages gamers to spend as much—if not more—money as they would offline.

Gambling on the go makes the industry more accessible than ever

As noted above, it isn’t just how much money these gambling platforms can bring in, but the sheer convenience of online gambling which has made it such a popular pastime. Business World recently reported that 70% of all bets made in the United Kingdom are placed outside of brick and mortar betting shops. This, coupled with the rising number of people who actually engage in mobile gambling to begin with, shows that the prevalence of easy-to-access online gaming platforms is helping to encourage new users.

Furthermore, YouGov statistics have shown that, while 47% of millennials find casinos “depressing”, an average of 51% of 18-49 year olds are in favour of online gambling on the whole. This extends across not only online casinos, but the use of lotto syndicates and betting as well. Online gambling platforms take up the demand for democratised, accessible gambling, without the need to set foot into a specialised gaming establishment.

By expanding to meet the changing perceptions of brick and mortar casinos, and catering to rising public demand, online gambling truly has secretly become one of the most successful and lucrative industries out there.

Claire James
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