Casino Gaming Online

There was a time, not so long ago, when you’d have to put on a tux to get access to casino games. You could head to a specialist resort, most famously Las Vegas, a cruise ship or gaming centre to get your slot thrills.

For better or worse, those days have gone. There was a good deal of glamour attached to that exclusive world. Somewhere like Las Vegas has a special magic that attracts millions of visitors. These things can't yet be replicated online.

But now, the casino gaming world has gone online, and it’s exploded. Everyone, everywhere – as long as it is recognised is their jurisdiction – has access to the classic casino games. There is a huge range of exciting slot machine simulators, and some fantastic value offers for customers in an ultra-competitive marketplace.

Why Play at Online Casinos?

Online casinos are for the vast majority of people good, clean fun!

Playing online is quick and convenient. You can sit there in your pyjamas while you play.

It’s also very safe. Those encryption systems are extremely good, and as long as you stay at reputable sites, using recognised payment systems you will be in very good hands.

It’s damn good fun! Humans are fascinated by uncertain outcomes. At heart, casino games are simple games of chance, and these never lose their fascination. There’s even some research that suggests that moderate gaming can be good for your mental health.

You might get rich. Logging in to an online casino with the idea that you’re going to make a fortune is often frowned on as an unhealthy way to play. You should never play with money you can’t afford. But it’s true that the online casino world has paid out some huge casino jackpots. The two latest record breakers were a slot jackpot of €11.7 million won by a Norwegian student in 2011, a Finnish player’s €17,861,800 jackpot in 2013, and a British soldier’s £13 million win (for a 25p stake!) in 2015.

They may be rare, but wins like those are always going to be a draw.

Who Plays at Online Casinos?

Online casinos exist in a world without national boundaries.

In the past that’s been a cause of conflict – for years American authorities were frustrated at their failure to rein in offshore gaming operators who provided thrill-hungry customers with services their local legislators thought they should do without.

Today, the regulators and the industry have a somewhat happier relationship. But that’s not stopped the explosion in online casino customers.

So who are they? Well, that’s hard to quantify in an anonymous world like the Internet. But there is research in the UK on who players are.

The 2010 Gambling Prevalence Survey from the UK Gambling Commission, the industry regulator, offers a fascinating breakdown of who plays what.

This survey found that 3% of British adults played online casino games. 9% of men had played casino games (on- and off-line), and 2% of women, 5% of the total population. In the last year, so 2009, the figures had increased to 11% of men and 3% of women, a total of 7%.

When you add in online slot machines, 4% of men had played them, and 2% of women, a total of 3% of the population. Figures for the year before the survey were again higher. 5% of men and 3% of women had played online slots, a total 4% of the population.

But like the industry itself, research into online casino gaming is in its infancy. There is some good news in a survey by Bwin, one of the world’s largest online casino operators, who found that “findings suggest that Internet casino betting behaviour results in modest costs”.

What do They Play?

The beauty of an online casino is that is free of the limits of the bricks and mortar world. These places run on software so can offer their services 24/7, 365-days of the year. They can also provide players with an almost limitless choice of games.

Although technology has changed a whole lot of things, these games really are random, with massive strings of numbers guaranteeing fair play for all customers. The old favourites of the gaming world are showing why they stand the test of time.

Like their real-world counterparts, online casinos tend to divide their games to make it easier for players to find what they’re after.

Here are the usual categories:


Slot machines are the biggest, most varied part of the average casino online, there can be hundreds of games, thousands even.

Most will be recognisably based on the physical machines players used to sit at. There’s a set of reels (most commonly three or five) with symbols on them. Press play and the reels spin with prizes awarded when sets of symbols are matched up.

Table games

This is what most people think of when they think of a casino. Those beautiful stretches of green baize, the wheels, the dice, the printed game boards. This hasn't changed with online casino games, where the latest graphics are used to try to match that beautiful experience.

The classic table games are roulette, (American and European variants), blackjack, craps, and baccarat.

Table games usually include card games like Blackjack, but also Asia Poker and other new games. These are played by players against a dealer representing the house.

Tile games, often Chinese in origin, are also considered table games, so look out for sic bo and other games.

Craps is the most well-known dice game, and comes, like most of these games in a number of variants.


Card games are a big part of most casinos. Most popular, of course, is poker, but you’ll also find the table card games listed in this way.

New Games at Online Casinos

Many casino games are hundreds, even thousands of years old.

They’ve stood the test of time. They’re also subject to myriad variations and tweaks as online casinos try to offer the best gameplay and produce a better return for the house.

This is brilliant for players too, who can shop around until they find the variation that suits their pocket and their gameplay preferences.

Genuinely new games are rare. Recently Asia Poker and Mambo Stud Poker have added to the hundreds of poker variants. They also point to an important trend that reflects a globalised world. These games are both influenced by ancient Chinese games. China is a massive new market for online gaming, and this part of the world has a rich history of games of chance. Look out for more games that bring these ancient games to a western market or make western games more palatable to Far Eastern tastes.

Slots are all about innovation. Again, the basic model stays the same, but the bonus games grow in complexity and player involvement. The graphics, sound effects and music, have come on by leaps and bounds in recent years.

The branding of slots is also now very sophisticated and designed to bring in new players. Take a look at the games attached to big shows like Game of Thrones. Titles like Fluffy Favourites are a million miles away from traditional machines, and Thunderkick, the Scandinavian developers, produce incredible looking games that are designed with a young, net-savvy audience in mind.

The Growth of Online Gaming

The history of casino games online is, like many of the games, short and speedy.

It was only as far back as 1994 that online gaming was licensed, first in Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. That year, Microgaming developed the first gambling software.

In 1995, encryption enabled secure financial transactions became available, and Intercasino opened up the first real-money casino.

The floodgates were soon opened. Microgaming introduced the first online progressive jackpot slot (a big prize that grows as players wager) in 1998, and Planet Poker opened the first online poker site.

The boom took off around 2001 when there were 8 million players online. In 2003, Cassava Enterprises launched, a couple of years later it, along with Playtech and PartyGaming, was sold in share offers.

By 2010, there were nearly 900 online casinos. And they were perfectly placed for a second boom as mobile Internet use took off in the early 2010s. Social media offered another medium for players to play in and was soon worth nearly $2 billion a year.

Online gambling is now legal in 85 jurisdictions. While there are ups and downs and changes of regulation, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a major downturn in player numbers or spending in this exciting, vibrant industry.

The Big Players

There is a lot of front-end branding in the casino business. But behind the scenes you’ll often find the same big names behind new casinos.

Here are the 10 biggest names in 2015 according to Grizzly Gambling.

888 Holdings
Worth: $0.93 billion
$1.06 billion
Net Entertainment
$1.24 billion
Unibet Group
$1.58 billion
$1.6 billion
Betfair Group
$2.28 billion
$3.32 billion
Amaya Gaming Group
$3.62 billion
Paddy Power
$3.78 billion
William Hill
$5.17 billion

This also applies to the machinery behind the scenes and the games that you play. Look out for names like Microgaming and Dragonfish and work out which ones you like and don't like.

How to Play at Online Casinos

You should bear these facts in mind before you play at an online casino as they’ll help you pick the online casino that suits you.

Wherever you intend to play you owe it to yourself to carry out at least a few simple checks before handing over your cash.

  1. Never play anywhere that isn’t fully legal and can prove it. In the UK, that means licensing from the UK Gambling Commission. No legitimate site is shy about showing these credentials.
  2. Never play anywhere without clear Terms and Conditions.
  3. Never play any game you don’t fully understand. Read the rules!
  4. Check out the ownership of the site. You may find yourself playing with a company whose games or policies you don’t really like if you don’t find out who the actual operator is.
  5. Check out the reputation of the online casino you’re considering on