Bookmakers in the United Kingdom have never had it so good thanks to the boom in the industry brought about by the mobile gaming revolution. Punters can gamble at any time of the day or night using their PCs, and increasingly, their tablets and mobile phones. In fact, the industry has raked in money thanks to the introduction of ‘in-play’ technology that enables punters to place wagers during the course of a game. An interesting development is that the industry has managed to widen its customer base to include college students and women.
Online operators in the UK offer a basket of gambling options including casino games, poker, bingo and sports betting. Slots are also very popular with online gamblers, and games such as Tiki Island slots are able to attract gamblers thanks to their excellent animation and big prizes.
There was a time when gambling was limited to high street shops since only the really wealthy people stepped into casinos. Today, the internet has brought gambling directly to their phones, and that too via extremely reliable sites. Furthermore, online casinos have become very high profile and they have been able to rope in high profile spokespersons such as the athletes Neymar and Ronaldo for PokerStars, and Victoria Pendleton for Betfair. In fact, gambling companies are spending a huge amount of money on advertising because their profits margins are incredibly high.
The biggest operators in the business have only become larger over the past couple of years, and most companies are worth hundreds of millions of pounds while the largest ones are worth billions of pounds. As a matter of fact, the wealth of the richest individuals owning these businesses has gone from £16 billion to £19billion in the last year alone. Michael Tabor of BetVictor is now worth around £600 million and he has accumulated many of the accoutrements of a wealthy lifestyle such as racehorses and a luxury yacht. Bet365 head honcho and Stoke City chairman Peter Coates is worth a whopping £3.76billion.
It has to be admitted that the gambling industry has given rise to a few problems as well. While betting is without doubt a thrilling activity, it is also extremely addictive. There have been many examples of people whose lives have been destroyed by their addiction to gambling. The NHS estimates that there are more than 500,000 gambling addicts in the United Kingdom. It is also believed that children are beginning to gamble online because of its accessibility and attractiveness.
The profile of gambling addicts tends to be predominantly male and young, but this is changing. It is becoming increasingly common to encounter female addicts. There have also been instances of educated and well-employed people falling for the lure of gambling. While the most common result of this addiction is impoverishment, there have also been many suicides because of gambling losses. There are increasing calls to regulate this industry more closely and to take it out of the mainstream. Self regulation doesn’t seem to be very successful in this industry as the many tragic instances of bankruptcy and suicide indicate.