Online gambling first became a reality just before the turn of the century. At the time, most online gambling was directed towards sports betting. When software developers like Microgaming, Netent, and Playtech started creating online casino games of chance, a few online casinos started popping up. For anyone who might not remember, many of those online casino games were quite crude, more like fruit machines that one could play in a retail casino.
Slowly but surely, the top software developers improved the online gambling experience through innovation and creativity. It wasn’t until the introduction of HTML 5 that the really cool games were developed, games with bonus features and free spins.
The issue online gamblers had in the early days of online gambling was they faced too many restrictions. First, they had to play on their anchored PCs at home or in the office. Second, they had to download the casinos onto their hard drives. For these reasons and issues with funding options, there were a limited number of loyal online gamblers. That changed six or seven years ago. Here’s why.
The Smartphone Online Gambling Revolution
About a decade ago, the online gambling industry as a whole began to realize that online gamblers were looking for convenience and more access. As the general population began increasing its reliance on smartphones, the path forward for the online gambling industry became clear. They needed to start creating websites that were optimized for mobile operating systems.
They initially did this, and online gamblers showed an affinity for being able to gamble on their smartphones. This created a big growth spurt in online gambling activity in the UK. However, there was a need to take things one step further. That step was the development of mobile apps that would be compatible with the most prominent mobile operating systems like iOS for Apple devices and Android.
By the time more UK online operators started rolling out native mobile gambling apps, the growth of online gambling all over the world exploded. It turns out that a vast population of recreational gamblers had been looking forward to the time they could play a few minutes of online slots or bet on sports while away from home.
Moving forward, smartphone users can expect the quality of their online gambling experiences to improve. We know this because the online gambling industry as a whole knows smartphone gambling will soon support 90% of the market.
With Pleasure Comes Some Pain
With the access issue answered, mobile gambling has really exploded, especially in the last couple of years as the COVID19 pandemic forced people to stay home in search of new adult entertainment options.
Of course, the creation of a larger online gambling community in the UK has led to more problem gambling issues. That has forced the UK”s gambling regulatory body, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), to take action. One of the things they did to combat online gambling problems was to co-create the GamStop Self-exclusion program.
The program serves as a way for prospective problem gamblers to protect themselves against their gambling addiction. The program has been deemed important enough that the UKGC strongly recommends its licensed online gambling operators subscribe as members of the program. When gamblers want to register with GamStop, they can do so with any member operator. Once a gambler has registered, they are theoretically blocked from having access to any licensed UK gambling site that is a member of GamStop.
While the program has proven successful, it doesn’t prevent online/mobile/smartphone casino gamblers and sports bettors from using other resources. Registered GamStop UK sports bettors can still access UK non GamStop sites for online sports betting and casino play. Smartphone gamblers also have other ways around GamStop, including offshore gambling, retail gambling, and using Bitcoin online gambling sites.
Yes, smartphones changed the online gambling industry for good. However, there will be growing pains. As the UKGC improves its ability to enforce problem gambling restrictions, the potential for the growth of the UK online gambling industry seems limitless. To be fair, that also applies to a lot of countries located all over the world. Smartphone gambling is here to stay.