There is an old saying that “everyone loves an occasional flutter”. For many people that just meant trying to pick the winner of the Grand National each year.
However, in recent years there has been something of an explosion in the popularity of casino gaming in the UK, driven in the most part by the introduction of the sophisticated online casinos that players find convenient and simple to use.
According to figures published by the UK Gambling Commission, the UK’s overall gambling market is worth a remarkable £13.6 billion each year. That reflects the most recent statistics for the year to September 2016 and shows a healthy three per cent rise on the previous year.
Source: Gambling Commission
However, it is when you look at how the market is segmented that things become interesting. Online betting is easily the largest revenue earner, ploughing £4.5 billion into the UK economy every year. That is far more than the land-based casinos, high street bookmakers and the National Lottery generates.
The UK’s economy has benefited more than most countries because of the increased popularity with the British public of online gambling. That is undoubtedly due to the more embracing attitude adopted by UK casino users to gambling than is seen in other parts of the world. From fruit machines in pubs to betting shops on the high streets, gambling is an enjoyable pastime for many, and the regulatory approach to the online sector reflects that.
Of course, the internet has scant regard for international boundaries, and consequently, the UK has become recognised as the global centre for online gambling, with sites welcoming members from across the globe.
The global appeal is one thing, but it still does not explain the underlying forces driving the huge growth in online gambling. To some extent, that must be put down to a perfect storm of changes in technology and consumer habits. Let’s find out more.
Gamers, gamblers and the mobile revolution
The introduction of the smartphone made gamers of many of us, and there is solid evidence that despite being thought a male-dominated area, the majority of gamers are now female. Perhaps women that were reticent to enter betting shops are now liberated by a smartphone that allows them to bet how and when they like?
Where before we used to pick up a magazine or newspaper during a quiet moment, most of us now turn to our favourite smartphone apps when we have 20-minutes to spare. Advanced game playing technology made it possible for a new demographic of adult men and women of every social and economic background to play online. But of course, the new adult gamers needed adult games to enjoy. The online casinos were swift to respond by providing just what the consumers required.
So, does everyone like a flutter?
movies have had a major influence on the public’s perception of casinos. The opulent surroundings of a casino with its chandeliers and stylish individuals playing at the tables is typically represented on the big screen as being the ultimate in sophistication and glamour, with perhaps just an edge of danger. If we were being completely honest; there are very few of us who wouldn’t want to reveal our inner James Bond, George Clooney or Julia Roberts at the tables.
The problem is that a land-based casino is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as something of a closed club, a place full of mysterious language and signals, where everyone seems to know what they are doing except the uninitiated first-timer who ends up looking more like Mr Bean than Mr Bond.
As anyone who has visited a casino is aware, the reality is far less dramatic. The majority of casinos in the UK’s cities cater to everyday people who want an enjoyable night out. Sure, everyone who walks in through the doors has the hope that they might just be able to beat the house and go home with a big payout, but when it comes down to it, most understand that if it is to stay in business, it is essential the house always wins in the end.
Advantages of online casinos
Being able to access a casino online has several benefits over visiting the land-based version. Spending time in and around one of the major online casino sites gives you a chance to hone your skills and allows you to get to grips with the most popular games. There is a wide choice of online casinos out there – probably more than you would believe – but it makes sense to choose one that is respected and has been established for several years. 888casino is among the highly regarded sites with the benefit of a broad range of games to try out, so that is a great place to start.
There is another advantage online casinos have over land-based ones, and that is a purely mathematical one. We mentioned above that “the house always wins.” When you think about it, that has to be the case”. Casinos are businesses, and they have overheads. If customers were all always walking out with more money than they went in with, Las Vegas and Monte Carlo would not exist.
That is where the concept of the house edge comes into play, and it is easiest to explain by way of an example. If you were betting on the toss of a coin, you would expect even money or a £1 payout on a £1 wager. In fact, a casino would pay out something like 95 pence, and this would constitute a house edge of five per cent.
Casino games vary enormously to cater for all tastes and preferences, but broadly speaking, you stand more chance of winning at a game where an element of skill (for example blackjack) is involved, than you would by playing one of pure chance (for example a slot machine).
A casino operating via a website has lower overheads than a physical casino, which allows it to have a lower house edge. In other words, while the house will always win eventually, wherever you choose to gamble, £100 wagered online will on average last longer than £100 wagered in a bricks and mortar casino. Of course, the free spins and no-deposit bonuses that most sites offer to new members increase the odds of a win even further.
Looking to the future
Ultimately, the success of online casinos relies on the same factors that draw people to physical ones, but the competition online is fierce, and advances in technology mean that the market will continue to evolve, and rapidly!
Virtual Reality technology (VR) is something that has finally taken off over the past year, and although the technology is still in its infancy, the online casino is a perfect place for it to develop. The turn of a card or spin of a wheel are relatively simple effects for VR developers to create that will provide a richer experience for players using the technology.
Casino games are first and foremost a leisure pursuit enjoyed by millions, and making the experience more realistic, exciting and engaging will serve to make them even more popular with the public.