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Friday 18th January 2019
   
The Rise and Rise of Online Casinos

From the time the first one opened in Italy in 1638, the casino has been held in high regard as the preserve of the rich, the famous and the privileged. Such establishments are still seen as being the domain of alpha-males in tuxedos and feminine 'beauties' in cocktail dresses. City centre casinos began to flourish in the UK in the 1990s, but they were still seen as being on an 'invitation-only' basis.

Over the past decade or so the casino landscape has changed completely thanks to the advent of the internet and the creation of online casinos. Thousands of punters across the UK now regularly enjoy several hands of blackjack of an evening without even leaving their front room, and hundreds more flock to casino review sites such as Casinopedia.org to discover what would be the best online casino for them.

Where online poker sites are failing, online casino sites are soaring

The current online gambling boom can be traced back to the rise of online poker sites in the late 1990s. The popular poker variant Texas Hold'em seemed tailor-made for online play, and leading online poker sites began to rake in the cash – quite literally – from poker players in poker's homeland of the USA and beyond.

All this changed in April 2011 when the US government passed legislation that effectively banned all US players from playing poker online. The three leading online poker companies lost thousands of players in the blink of an eye, and were eventually forced to merge in order to survive.
The online poker boom though had given internet users a taste for the relatively new phenomenon of online wagering. The online casino realm expanded to fill the poker void, although players from the USA were still banned from gambling online. Alternatives to poker such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette were seen as less 'exclusive' than Texas Hold'em, and unlike poker new players were not required to expose themselves to experienced sharks ready to gobble up all their cash.

The next step in the online casino revolution – government legitimisation

In the United Kingdom, the government debated upon how it was going to react to the online casino trend. Instead of banning online gambling as the US had done, the ruling bodies established the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). Legislation was passed that decreed that an online casino was only able to offer any kind of online wagering opportunity to UK-based customers if the casino possessed a UKGC licence. Online casinos were also required to hand a percentage of their takings over to the commission.

According to the UKGC, gross gambling yield in the UK topped £14.4 billion in the 2017-18 financial year, which represented a 4.5 percent increase when compared to 2016-17. Despite this, the number of betting shops, bingo premises, real world gaming machines and fixed odds betting terminals in the UK all decreased.

Online casino games, when added to online betting sites and online bingo sites, now represent 37.3 percent of the UK's yield from gambling, which is a 3 percent increase from one year previously. It's quite clear that despite the continual rise of online casinos, this important niche in the UK's gambling realm has yet to reach its peak.