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The impact of the internet on the gambling industry

Gambling, in all its various forms, has been around for thousands of years, and no matter what legislation has been put in place to ban it, it has managed to survive and thrive.

Bingo has been around since the 18th century, but it was only in the 1960s that bingo halls began to sprout up across the country. If blackjack or roulette were more your thing, then you had to go to a casino, which, due to strict licencing laws, were few and far between. What’s more, they were hardly the sort of establishment that the average man or woman in the street would frequent on a regular basis.

As with just about every other aspect of life, the internet changed everything. In 1997, there were over 200 online casinos, and by the end of the following year, it is estimated that the industry was already worth in excess of $800 million. Sports betting wasn’t to be left behind either; by 2005, it was turning over $4 billion.

As far as casino gambling is concerned, the internet has popularised games such as roulette, blackjack, slots, craps and poker, making them available to millions of people who, just a few years previously, would never have dreamt of visiting a bricks and mortar casino. Bingo is another form of gambling to have enjoyed spectacular success since breaking free of the constraints of high street bingo halls and entering the virtual world.

Sports betting has also been revolutionised, with online betting sites making it possible for you to place wagers on just about anything, from the name of the latest royal baby to who will score the first goal in the FA Cup Final and which driver will be in pole position at the next F1 Grand Prix.

Having the freedom to play whenever you choose, at any time of the day or night, from the comfort of your own home, made gambling a hobby you could indulge in for just a few minutes or for several hours – the choice was yours. Then, just when it looked as though online gambling had begun to reach saturation point, along came wireless internet and smartphones, closely followed by tablet computers. The result has been a second revolution in both sports and casino gaming.

Now, by simply downloading an app, you can play anywhere – on a train, sitting on a park bench, or during your lunch break at work. Today, you can enjoy a game or two of bingo or poker, or bet on the horses, on websites operated by some of the biggest and most reputable names in the industry. Every day, skilled software developers are working on new games for you to try, and are improving site security and e-commerce systems.

There has never been a better time to take the plunge and join in the fun. You don’t have to be a professional high roller poker player; you could start off by trying your hand at bingo or slots or have a small flutter on a major horse race such as the Grand National or the Derby.