Forms of online gambling

Online gambling has become one of the most popular activities on the internet and one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Because of the high demand, there are various forms of gambling online to suit all needs. Gambling has evolved from an industry associated with unlawful activities and characters to become as mainstream as it can get. Players do not have to travel far and wide to visit their favourite casinos - you can simply enjoy a range of top-class games from the comfort of your home or even while on the move.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, our online gambling capabilities have grown to become one of the most exciting and interactive experiences you can have without leaving the comfort of your home. These days, casino games are designed to offer players the most thrilling and rewarding experience and have them coming back for more. Due to the convenience of logging in from your laptop or mobile device, online casinos understand the value of attracting and retaining customers. Some games, like online slots, are built to keep players coming back for more as these are easy to land small wins and require no skill whatsoever. That said, the unpredictability of these games means the casino always has the advantage.

The influx in online casinos and the increased accessibility of gambling over the internet has not only changed the industry but changed our betting habits as well. There is currently a wide variety of ways in which a player can gamble online. We will cover some of the most common and rewarding methods below.

Sports betting sites and horse racing betting sites

Sports betting has always been a popular activity, particularly betting on horse races. Thanks to the internet, online sports betting is more popular than ever before and a preferred option of gambling all over the world. In fact, there is lots of money to be won when playing your bets online. Sports betting sites allow you to bet on a variety of markets and odds by placing a wager on the outcome of a game. That said, there are many different ways you can place a bet, from betting on the outcome of a game to betting on who will score, what the final result will be to even betting on the outfit or colours a player will wear. The options are endless when it comes to making wagers at online sportsbooks.

As with all forms of online betting, luck plays an important role when betting on sports. While there is the option to bet on the 'favourite', this is not a guaranteed win. The 'favourite' is the most popular and expected option to win, and the odds that are given reflect the degree of likelihood that they would win. While odds of the favourite winning are better than the underdog, the rewards for betting on the underdog and winning are much more. With sports betting, the most important strategy is knowing how the betting works and understanding the odds. Everything else is completely up to chance.

The odds at online sports betting sites differ by country and will be usually be represented in European, UK or American format, depending on the country in which the website is based. If you are visiting a site in a different country than your own, a simple Google search and various online tools will help you figure out how much you can win per bet. That said, the odds and markets change drastically all year round, so keeping up to date with the world of sports and sports betting is key to a successful experience. Because these games are based purely on chance, it is also important to play responsibly at all times.

Online casinos

When it comes to betting on the internet, online casinos are probably one of the most popular options. In fact, online casinos rank in the top ten of the best gambling sites, and for good reason. Most online casinos are diverse and offer plenty of opportunities to bet. Players looking for variety can bet on a variety of games like video slots, video poker games, table games, live casino games and much more. Many of the leading online casinos boast a games lobby of hundreds of games to suit all needs. Indeed, players are spoilt for choice when playing at a real money online casino. In addition to games, online casinos also offer a range of bonuses, promotions, special offers and rewards to keep players intrigued and coming back for more.

Slot machines are one of the most popular games at online casinos. Similar to the classic fruit machines of the past, slot machines today are more exciting, modern and boast plenty of extra features and winning opportunities. The original fruit slot machine was invented in San Francisco at the end of the 19th century by Charles Fey, a German immigrant. These types of games are common features at land-based casinos, pubs, arcades and even amusement parks. However, more and more people are opting to play these popular games from their home or mobile device.

A slot machine most commonly features five reels and a variety of rows and symbols that help you form winning combinations. The game itself is simple - just make a wager, spin the reels and collect whatever prize (if any) is awarded to you at the end. More modern video slots, however, always include some type of bonus or free spins game, which is designed to improve your chances of winning and your overall gaming experience. The results of an online casino's slot machine will be based on a Random Number Generator, which means that all results are fair, random and not influenced by outside factors. It also means that there is nothing you can do to change the outcome of the game and that it is based purely on chance.

Poker sites

In addition to online casinos, players can try out an online poker site. In some cases, online casinos and poker sites even combine to form one comprehensive and convenient portal in which to find all your favourite betting options. At a dedicated poker site, players can choose between a number of very popular options like Texas Hold'em, Five-Card Draw, Seven-Card Stud, Omaha and more. These are the poker games you most often see being played at tournaments. Players are able to place a bet on the face value of a card combination. A game of poker usually involves two or more players who are dealt a set of cards depending on the game you are playing. The cards the player receives is called a 'hand' while all bets made for that game are put into a 'pot'. The winner of the entire round will win the pot.

Thanks to the accessibility of the internet, poker games have grown in popularity in recent years. What was once a game restricted to experienced players sitting at a poker table is now available to everyone, regardless of your skill level or budget. In fact, poker is one of those games where you can play for low stakes, making it ideal for all players. Online poker also involves freeroll tournaments, which basically means no entrance fee to play, which offers players a great advantage, especially if you are a beginner. The first online poker game was launched in the late 1990s with the ever-popular Planet Poker being the first site to offer real money poker games online in 1998.

Online lotteries

These days, lotteries can only be played online and most lottery sites are actually owned and run by the government. Because government agencies run these sites, they are generally protected from competition as they produce large taxes. That said, there are privately-run lottery sites as well. There are a variety of different variants of online lotteries, although most of them function in basically the same way. While online lotteries allow players to win large sums of money, most times players who enter online lotteries win smaller amounts or nothing at all.

The standard lottery game consists of choosing numbers, which are then randomly drawn at a specific time. The aim is to match as many numbers to the ones that are drawn at random. Matching all your numbers mean you win the highest prize, although matching several numbers may also constitute a smaller win. Because this is completely random, playing the lottery requires no skill and plenty of luck. Additionally, because there are so many people playing the lottery, the chances of actually winning a big prize are quite small, although there have been cases of people winning life-changing amounts. Winning the highest prize is certainly possible when playing online lotteries.

Online bingo

Bingo is another popular game worth playing online. There are plenty of bingo sites available on the internet, with many offering features like multiplayer chat facilities and casino games on top of its bingo selection. Bingo rooms generally operating 24 hours a day and offer numerous prizes to be won. Each bingo room will usually feature a chat moderator that not only answers player's questions and clarifies winners, but also offers additional chat room games. Here, players can compete against each other for the chance to win additional bingo credits or points.

When playing online bingo, sites will make use of a Random Number Generator that generates random balls, instead of the regular bingo balls available at live bingo rooms. The earliest known online bingo game was launched back in 1996 and was a free game called Bingo Zone. In 1998, Bingo Blitz was launched.

Online bingo is extremely easy to play. Players buy cards with random numbers on them, usually ranging from 1 to 90 or 1 to 75. That said, this could vary depending on the type of bingo site. Bingo numbers are called out and marked off the player's card. Each game will involve a specific amount of numbers or even patterns depending on the game. The first person who receives all the numbers or patterns is the winner. If multiple players reach the target in a round, the prize will be shared.
Due to the random number generator, online bingo is completely random and therefore a game of chance. There is no skill required to play online bingo, making it an excellent option for new players.

Scratch card sites

Scratch cards are most commonly known to be bought at supermarkets or stores along with lottery tickets. But, thanks to the internet, scratch cards can now be played online with minimal fuss. In fact, scratch cards are now a popular form of online gambling and are available to play at many online casinos and gambling sites.

Scratch cards are generally an actual card that features a silver hidden area. This area needs to be scratched using a coin to reveal the results of the card underneath. Online versions of scratch cards use the same concept, but instead of an actual card and using a coin to scratch the surface, you simply use your mouse to reveal the results underneath.

Many online sites feature plenty of different scratch cards that can be bought for different amounts, starting from as low as CA$1. The higher the price of the scratch card, the higher the potential prize you could win. Some scratch cards accept lower coin denominations, making it ideal for low-budget players, although the prizes will also be lower. In order for a player to win, you must generally match three or more amounts to win that amount. Sometimes, the scratch card will also feature symbols, which must be matched three or more times in order to win.

Scratch cards are a fun and affordable way to get in on the action without breaking your bank balance. While there is a better chance of winning on a scratch card compared to an online lottery, these amounts are usually significantly lower. There is also a large chance that you will win nothing at all. This form of online gambling requires no skill and is 100% based on chance.

Mobile gaming

Mobile gaming is certainly taking over the industry and is the most recent form of online gambling. Thanks to the advancement of technology, players can now access their favourite online casino anytime, anywhere, directly from your mobile device. Whether you are interested in online casinos, poker sites, bingo rooms or even sports betting sites, you can place your bet directly from your smartphone or tablet while on the move.

Mobile gaming is still new in the industry, so it is certainly a work in progress. That said, most online casinos and betting sites feature highly responsive and compatible mobile sites to suit all player needs. Players can access a wide selection of games directly from their mobile device. This can either be done instantly via your web browser or you can download the app (if available). When mobile gaming was first launched, only a handful of games could be played. These days, the number of games has grown considerably, although some casino lobbies are still not fully mobile, allowing players to only access a limited number of games on their mobile. That said, most online casinos and betting sites offer a myriad of games available for players on the move.

Online gambling continues to dominate the gaming industry, and with good reason. It is convenient, exciting and rewarding. That said, it is important to remember that online gambling is still gambling and caution should be taken when betting for money online. Gambling can be addictive; therefore players must practice responsible gambling in order to get the most out of your experience.

Online casinos

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online casinos on the internet today. Online casinos, also referred to as virtual casinos, has become more popular in recent times as more people look to the internet to cater to their online gambling needs. Online casinos offer players the convenience of playing your favourite games without having to leave the comfort of their homes. At online casinos, players have access to a wide variety of real money games and bonuses. As long as you have access to the internet and a solid connection, you can enjoy the convenience of playing online without having to visit a land-based casino.

Online casinos are different from land-based casinos, although they are most often compared to each other when it comes to odds and percentages. A general rule of thumb is that online casinos offer must higher percentages and better odds compared to land-based casinos. The reasoning behind this is simple - online casinos do not have the high operating costs like land-based casinos. That said, these virtual casinos are able to offer higher payouts and more lucrative bonuses and promotions due to low overheads.
Online casinos boast a wide range of exciting real money and free games from which to choose from. Most casinos feature hundreds of games, while others go into the thousands, which means that players are spoilt for choice when gambling at online casinos. These games are powered by numerous software providers like Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech, to name a few.
If you decide to play at an online casino, there are generally three ways to do this. Firstly, you can play instantly via your web browser. Simply visit the casino's website and you're good to go. Secondly, you can download the casino and thirdly, you can play the mobile casino via your smartphone or tablet.

An instant, or flash casino, allows players to access the casino instantly using a flash plug-in. Without this flash plug-in, the casino will not load, although more and more casinos are getting rid of this to make it more accessible to all players. In other instances, casinos will require you to download the simple client software and have the casino on your PC or mobile device at all times, without having to visit the website. Either way, players will have access to the casino's full suite of games and promotions. Players are also able to easily switch between games and even play multiple games at the same time depending on the game's features. When downloading an online casino, rest assured that it is generally safe for computers, take up minimal space and is easy to install. In addition to access to games and bonuses, players can also make use of the other casino features like banking, loyalties and rewards, transactions, customer support and more.

Even more convenient is mobile gaming, which allows players to take their gaming on the move. As technology has advanced, many online casinos have launched new and exciting mobile platforms to access from your smartphone or tablet. Players can access your favourite games without much fuss from your mobile device, whether you are using Android, iOS, Blackberry or Windows operating systems.

While mobile gambling is all the rage these days, there are still some online casino that still does not offer the full scope of casino games to mobile players. While this can be frustrating, many casino games are available to play online and more often than not, players can enjoy the full lobby while on the move.

When playing at an online casino, a key concern for all gaming platforms is customer satisfaction. In fact, online casinos go out of their way to ensure that players ensure the most convenient and stress-free experience. Casinos generally offer several support options for players to get in touch should there be an issue. These support methods usually include live chat features, email, telephone, post and even Skype and Whatsapp. That said, the most efficient ways to contact an online casino is generally through its live chat feature. Many casinos offer this service 24/7, 365 days a year, while others have specific operating times. That said, most online casinos will have this feature available outside of normal daily working hours to cater for a broader range of players. Having limited customer support will severely damage the reputation of an online casino, therefore great effort is put into making sure that customers can get in touch in the most convenient and stress-free way possible.

Bonuses and promotions

With so many online casinos available these days, competition is fierce and gaming operators need to offer players new and exciting ways to stick around and make real money deposits. A good way to draw and captivate customers is through bonuses and promotions. In this way, players are not only promised fun and rewards by playing the casino games, but also by taking advantage of the generous bonuses on offer, which will surely keep players coming back for more.

There are numerous bonuses and promotions offered at online casinos and can range from the all-important welcome bonus to free spin offers, deposit bonuses, no deposit bonuses, competitions, cashback offers, tournaments, loyalty programs, VIP schemes and much more. The most popular of these bonuses is no doubt the welcome or sign-up bonuses. In order to attract new customers, casinos will offer a welcome bonus, which will vary depending on the casino. The basic structure, however, is simple. Players must sign up and meet the wagering requirements in order to claim a free bonus matching your initial deposit. In some cases, you will receive casino credits or loyalty points, while other bonuses do not require any deposit at all to receive free money or credits. It really depends on how the casino wants to package this bonus to appeal to the most customers. There are terms and conditions associated with all these bonuses, so be sure to have a look at them before betting any real money.

A welcome bonus sometimes includes more than one bonus if the casino is able to offer a multi-tiered welcome bonus system. This means that a player can cash in on a bonus when making their first bonus and subsequent deposits after that, depending on the terms of the offer. Generally, the welcome bonus features a 100% match deposit bonus, while subsequent deposits will be matched by a lower amount, or this system could be reversed.

Welcome bonus

An online casino's welcome bonus will vary depending on the casino and the type of game you wish to play. For example, some of the welcome bonuses may only apply to slots or table game players, while others will be aimed at video poker or live casino players. What's more, almost all bonuses carry a wagering requirement that must be met before you can cash out any winnings. This wagering requirement will vary depending on the casino and it is the player's job to play through this amount (for example 35 times the bonus amount) on certain games before they can withdraw any funds. In some cases (but not all), casinos will also players to forfeit the bonus in order to make a withdrawal.

No deposit bonus

Another popular option is the no deposit bonus, although these are not as common as first deposit bonuses. The reason these bonuses are so popular is that you are not required to make a deposit to claim this bonus. If an online casino offers a no deposit bonus, it will be in the form of a welcome bonus but without the requirement to make a deposit. This is a great way to get new players to sign up and play for free before making their first deposit - it is essentially a marketing tool to entice players to join the casino and try out the games.

Once you register to the casino, you are awarded with a no deposit bonus. This is free casino credits for you to use to try some of the games on offer. That said, this bonus also comes with certain terms and conditions, especially wagering requirements. This information will be available on the bonus terms and conditions page.

It is important to note that some casinos may restrict the bonus to be played on certain games, including progressive jackpot games. Once a player meets all the bonus requirements, you will be free to withdraw any winnings earned up to that point, although be aware that some casinos have daily, weekly and monthly withdrawal limits. Again, this will be stated in the terms and conditions. In some cases, a small deposit will be required from a player before any winnings can be withdrawn. This is to verify the identity of the player. Once this is done, the deposit is usually added onto the withdrawal amount.

Sometimes, no deposit bonuses are not cashable bonuses. This means that once the wagering requirement is met and a withdrawal is requested, the bonus amount will be deducted from the withdrawal. In fact, this can happen with various bonuses, not just no deposit bonuses. That said, no deposit bonuses are not only offered upon registration and can be doled out by a casino at any time in the form of an additional bonus, promotion or reward. In addition to free credit, these bonuses can also take the form of a cash bonus or free spins to use on slot machines.

Refer a Friend Bonus

Another common bonus offered at online casinos is the refer a friend bonus. As the name suggests, your job is to refer a friend to the casino. Once your friend has signed up and made his/her first deposit, you both can benefit from this referral in the terms of the bonus. Again, there will be a playthrough requirement attached to this bonus.

Cashback bonus

An online casino will also sometimes offer cashback bonuses. While these bonuses are generally not as popular as other bonuses, they are worthwhile to players. With this bonus, you are awarded a cashback in the form of a percentage of your losses. This gives you a nice boost if you have suffered a loss in previous gaming activities.

Comp points

Finally, comp points or player points are another form of online bonuses that can be offered at online casinos. These are points earned by players whenever you place real money wagers at online casinos. Players can accumulate these points, and once a certain amount is reached, they can be converted into cash or various other prizes. Even though the amount of points per wager is relatively small, over time this can surely add up and, once converted, can be incredibly convenient for a play. This is usually offered at online casinos that boast loyalty programs and VIP schemes.

Payment Methods

At online casinos, there is usually a range of ways you can make deposits and withdrawals for added convenience when playing for real money. This can range from credit and debit cards to bank transfers, e-wallets and more. Some online casinos also allow players to make deposits using methods like Ukash, PaysafeCard, PayPal and even cryptocurrencies. In these cases, payment methods will need to be verified for added security when you want to make a withdrawal.

When making a deposit, things are kept as simple as possible. In fact, it only takes a couple of minutes to fund your account and the money is available instantly. That said, withdrawals take a little longer. All credible online casinos will feature certain security measures to protect its players at all times, including encryption to ensure the safety of your sensitive information like credit card details. In some cases, making a withdrawal requires additional verification like sending documentation like utility bills, identity documents, passports, driver's license or similar. This will depend on the requirements of each casino. Once all your information has been checked and verified, you will usually not be required to produce this information for future withdrawals.

Video Slots and Casino Games

When it comes to gaming, players are spoilt for choice at online casinos. Online casinos often have a huge variety of casino games on offer, ranging in style, budget, skill level, themes, jackpots, gameplay and much more. Online slots remain the most popular option at online casinos, although table games, progressive jackpots and video poker definitely draw the crowds as well. Online slots are easy to play and require absolutely no skill, making them a great option for players of all levels, preferences and budgets. Also, most online slot machines start with relatively small bets and produce some stunning wins.

Another reason it is so popular is because of the variety on offer. Whether you want the most basic slot machine that is reminiscent of fruit machines of the past, a modern video slot with plenty of features and paylines, or a sophisticated 3D slot with incredible graphics and even better rewards, all needs are taken care of. Additionally, software providers are constantly launching brand new titles, features and bonuses, so it is always exciting to play online slots.

Another great option for players looking to win big is progressive jackpot slots. These slots are designed to offer players the chance to win life-changing amounts that could even go into the millions. Players looking for an exciting experience as close to the action of Las Vegas will be happy to indulge in these types of games, plus the chance to win a massive jackpot only adds to its appeal.

Table games are another type of casino game that is highly represented at online casinos. The variety of these games is generally huge, although not as impressive as video slots. In most cases, online casinos will offer variants of popular games like blackjack, roulette, poker and more. Players who prefer games with a bit more strategy and skill will enjoy some time spent at a poker table, although many of these games also require a good level of luck. Players who enjoy implementing some form of strategy in their gameplay will also enjoy the variety of table and poker games on offer at online casinos.

Next up is video poker, which is commonplace at numerous online casinos. Gaming platforms will feature a decent selection of video poker games, although likely not as huge as table games or online slots. These games are popular, with each title offers different payout ratios and prizes. Each game will also feature different strategies that can be implemented to improve your chances of winning. Generally, the playing time for video poker games is longer than other casino games. Online casinos may also offer exciting poker tournaments to players with a competitive streak, although these tournaments are great for beginners and advanced players alike.

Finally, another popular option at online casinos is live dealer games. These games are run by real-life dealers and are streamed in real time. In fact, this is the closest you can get to a casino floor without leaving the comfort of your home. These games are only available to play for real money, with players placing bets in real time and watching the action via a live streaming video link. There are also facilities that allow you to communicate with the dealer. Because of the high-tech required and additional requirements needed for live casinos, it is not offered at all online casinos.

Online casinos are not only exciting and convenient, but offer players a safe environment in which to play your favourite games. Remember, gambling on the internet requires the same, if not more responsibility than gambling at land-based casinos. Players need to manage your bankroll properly, walk away when the going gets rough and always play with a clear head.

Gaming software companies

Software companies are companies that are dedicated to offering players top-class gaming experiences. These companies provide online casinos with a wealth of casino games to suit all needs. As with all industries, there are some software providers that certainly lead the pack in producing games and general quality and popularity. An online casino will generally lease these games from a software provider, or even purchase the software. Some of the software provider dominating the market includes Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Playtech, IGT, WMS and more.

Since 2011, there has been a significant rise in the number of software providers entering the market. Back in the day, only a few dominated, while there are dozens today offering exciting gaming opportunities to one and all. Because of the competition in the industry, each of these providers will offer a unique and exciting product that aims to stand out from the crowd. Most of the games developed by one provider, for example Microgaming, will feature a defining look, style and feel as well as its own unique features to attract players. Generally, players will look for a software provider they enjoy and then find an online casino that features a majority of its suit within their lobby. Many times, online casinos will feature multiple software providers in order to offer players more variety, excitement and winning opportunities.

Software providers will often produce games that are compatible on all platforms, including Windows, Mac and Android to appeal to a broader gaming market. This means that the only real requirement you need in order to access your favourite games is a solid internet connection. Some software platforms even allow players to change the settings of the games in order to enjoy the most customised experience to suit your needs and that of your device.
Choosing the right software company can be a tough decision as there are so many options available to you. Some companies may only produce one type of game, while others offer more variety and variants. As mentioned before, online casinos that feature more than one software provider is becoming all the more popular to cater to the needs of players looking for variety. Most software providers will allow players to enjoy the game for free before placing a bet and playing for real money. Let's take a look at some of the most popular software providers on the market today.

Microgaming

One of the most loved and trusted software providers on the market, Microgaming is a name any experienced player will be familiar with. The company was developed back in 1994 and continues to dominate the igaming industry with its range of high-quality games and casino offerings. The company is a privately-held Isle of Man-based company, with its first online casino game launched in 1994. Currently, they produce hundreds of gaming products, including online casino games, mobile games, poker, bingo, sportsbook, land-based games, live dealer games and network gaming.

The company has built an impressive portfolio over the years and currently boasts hundreds of titles under its name. They also publish a combination of licensed and propriety content, with brand new titles released almost every month. Microgaming is also leading the pack in the mobile gaming industry, producing excellent, responsive games compatible with all smartphones and tablets. The company has produced some of the biggest jackpots and wins in the history of iGaming, both online and mobile. In fact, their progressive jackpot games are some of the largest in the world.

Microgaming is also a founding member of eCOGRA and IRC, both companies that have set the standard for fairness and responsible gambling in the iGaming industry. They have also produced some of the biggest and best online slots in the world, including the ever-popular Thunderstruck 2 and Mega Millions. Both of these titles have been known to pay out some incredible rewards over the years. Other renowned titles include Immortal Romance, Break da Bank, Jungle Jim and more.

NetEnt

Net Entertainment, or NetEnt, was established in 1996 and is a Scandinavian-based company. It is also a pioneering name in the industry, being a world leader in supplying digital casino systems and games to gambling operators around the world. The company's mission is to provide high-quality gaming solutions for the best online gaming experience. Thanks to its award-winning Casino Module, the company has produced over 200 of the best, most popular titles on the market, most of which are proudly featured at leading online casinos and gaming platforms.
Hundreds of online casinos and gaming providers currently feature NetEnt games. Since the launch of the company, NetEnt has also managed to build solid relationships with their customers based through a high level of quality and trust in their products and services. They are industry leaders and are known for their innovation when producing brand new gaming experiences for the great igaming market.

NetEnt has an international presence, with operations in Sweden, Ukraine, Malta and Gibraltar. The company employs over 500 talented employees based all over Europe, all with a drive and passion for the igaming industry.

NetEnt's portfolio of games is where they truly shine. The proof is in the pudding, and NetEnt never fails to impress. All of their games have been carefully designed and produced to offer players the most thrilling and memorable gaming experience, wherever you are in the world. These games feature the best in graphics, gameplay and winning opportunities, all reflecting the knowledge and expertise of the company. NetEnt is known for its consistency as well, producing brand-new games on a monthly basis. Some of its most popular titles include Starburst, Gonzo's Quest, Aloha! Cluster Pays, and Twin Spin, among others.

Playtech

Founded in 1999 in Tartu, Estonia, Playtech is another big name in the iGaming industry. The company was formed by entrepreneurs from the casino software engineering and multimedia industries and is known for its reliability, consistency, security, and high-quality offerings. In 2001, the company gained its first casino license, while it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006. 2006 was also the year that the company expanded by opening offices in Bulgaria. Since then, the brand has continued to flourish by launching a sports betting platform and expanding its market to Spain, Serbia, Italy and Bulgaria.
Playtech was also one of the first software providers to offer players with VIP rating and comp points, making them another industry pioneer. They also boast being the first to offer players the ability to view game and transaction history in real time. In 2012, the company again made great strides by expanding to Geneity, the UK's leading sports betting site. In 2013, the company acquired PokerStrategy, which worked well with Playtech's existing poker offering. Playtech continues to make great changes and improvements in the igaming industry thanks to innovative thinking and a knack for providing unique offerings to its large base of customers.

Playtech has a unique offering that allows a fully integrated, cross platform offering. Here, players can access online, mobile, broadcast and server-based games through a single account. Currently, Playtech is a leading software provider in the online casino, bingo, poker, sports betting, live dealer gaming and fixed odds space.

While these are just three of the main players in the iGaming space, there dozens of software providers worth exploring. These companies will continue to produce top-class games to appeal to the masses while they fight for the title of best in the business.

UIGEA and why it changed the whole industry

While some states in the USA allow online gambling, others do not, with very strict laws in place that prohibit iGaming completely. In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Wire Act prohibits sports betting on the internet. That said, the ruling does not mean that internet gambling on a game of chance is actually prohibited, but in order to run an online gaming company, a license from the state is required.

Due to this confusion, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, also known as the UIGEA, was launched in April 2006 in the United States. The aim of this legislation was to regulate online gambling in the country. The bill was passed by then-president George W. Bush, who signed it into law in 2006. This unexpected bill causes chaos in the iGaming industry as it is now unlawful for gambling businesses to accept payments for participation gaming or betting on the internet. In its basic terms, the law was put in place to regulate how gambling transactions are processed online. At the time, the Act caused an uproar as it would seriously damage the iGaming industry and cause irreparable damage.

The Act did not include fantasy sports, inter-tribal gaming, and legal intrastate and state lotteries. It also made no mention of inter-state wagering on horse racing. That said, fantasy sports and intrastate and inter-tribal gaming was excluded on the basis that they meet certain requirements. The Act did not mention state lotteries or interstate horse racing. This meant that all gambling sites listed on the London Stock Exchange were forbidden from accepting players from the United States.
After the Act was put in place, the stock prices of publicly traded online casinos took a dive. In fact, the iGaming industry suffered a loss of over seven billion dollars of market value. While many US players thought the Act meant they were forbidden from online gambling, this was not the case. In fact, the aim of the Act was not to target US players, but online gambling operators and payment processors in an effort to prevent fraud, money laundering and other criminal activities associated with the gambling industry.

The Act requires all online gaming operators and payment processors to be regulated and to have policies in place to prevent, block and identify restricted online transactions. Five designated payment systems are covered by the Act and include automated clearing house systems, check collection systems, money transmitting businesses, card systems and wire transfer systems. That said, certain participants were excluded from these policies and procedures but there was no exceptions for card system participants. This is because card systems usually carry a transaction coding system, which could allow for certain restricted transactions.

This Act has been disputed for a long time by both the United States and Antigua and in 2007, a ruling came to pass that the US was in fact, infringing on treaty obligations by preventing the market from accessing US players. All of the businesses mentioned in the ruling were based in Antigua. In March 2007, the United States lost the case, which led to Antigua and the European Union filing claims for compensation against the United States. This was based on the market value loss they suffered based on the Act. However, the dispute was settled privately as it was an issue of national security.

In May 2009, things picked up again when the UIGEA was challenged by Barney Frank, a congressman who introduced a bill to overturn the gambling aspects of the Act. This bill aimed to protect US players from fraud and underage gambling. The bill also aimed to delay the UIGEA from being implemented for a whole year. If this bill had been passed, online poker would be excluded from the UIGEA, although the bill never made it to the House Financial Services Committee.

In 2009, the UIGEA faced further challenges when the iMEGA took this law to a US Federal Circuit court, stating that the UIGEA was unconstitutional. iMEGA, however, lost the case. At the time of the verdict, only six of the country's 50 states prohibited online gambling.

Even though steps had been made to prevent the UIGEA from regulating the industry in such a strict manner, the online gambling industry was still hugely affected. In fact, many operators thought it best to completely leave the United States market. Many operators listed on the London Stock Exchange did decide to exit the market, while several privately owned companies continued to offer its services to US players. Credit card companies, banks and e-wallet companies also started to reject transactions from US players. This meant that players from the US now had limited options when it came to online gambling sites and payment processors in the country.

While the Act cause lots of grief and challenges within the industry, things started to settle down eventually. In fact, new online payments solutions were developed to facilitate the processing of online gambling transactions for US players. Additionally, more and more online gambling sites started to offer its services to US players.

That said, the effects of the Act were not all negative. There were some positive outcomes as well. Thanks to the UIGEA law, online gambling and its payment processes are safer and more reliable than ever before. Payment processors and gambling sites were forced to relook at its operations and provide a more high-quality gaming experience in order to get back its customer base. Gambling operators that followed procedures and offered a legitimate service to US players had nothing to worry about as the Act does not prohibit US players from playing at these sites. It was only illegal sites and unethical payment processors that would be affected, so the Act helped to highlight the problem and force these companies to improve their services. The UIGEA also did not prevent players from playing at legal offshore gambling sites. Alternative banking solutions were also established to meet the US market demands, including widely used options like prepaid credit and debit cards and e-wallets. That said, these methods of payments are restricted to state-licensed iGaming only.

At the end of it all, players should remember that gambling at offshore gambling sites is not illegal. The law only applies to online casinos, gambling sites and payment processors accepting US players who have not met the requirements set by UIGEA. It is every player's right to engage in responsible and safe gambling at authorised, licensed and regulated gambling sites.

Audrey Molly Photo Audrey Molly

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