Back in January, the UK Gambling Commission said it would be reviewing the gambling licences of five online casinos in operating in the UK, while issuing warnings to another 17, as they had judged that the casinos in questions weren’t doing enough to prevent criminals from laundering money using the websites.
However, despite these warnings, the number of new online casinos operating in the UK continues to soar, with no less than 27 new operators popping up in the first 11 weeks of 2018.
In order to legally operate in the UK, online casino operators – along with sports betting companies, bingo sites and lottery companies – must possess a gambling licence from the UKGC.
So, despite regulation tightening up, what is causing this spike in the number of new online casinos? Well, like any flourishing industry, the popularity of the product and the demand for the latest innovations.
Online casinos have been knocking around as long as the world wide web has been a thing. However, it has been the emergence of smartphones that has sky-rocketed the online gambling industry.
Few people would have predicted you would frequently see fully-grown adults shamelessly playing the likes of Candy Crush in their downtime, so it only makes sense that other adults would chose to play games with the chance to win something tangible – i.e. money, rather than just endlessly “levelling up”.
The ‘gamification’ of casinos
The online casino world has undergone a significant amount of gamification in recent years. While traditional casinos conjure up the stereotype of city slickers playing roulette or high stakes poker, the most popular games at online casinos now are video slots – which count slot machines and fruit machines amongst its ancestors.
Indeed, many of the best UK casinos offer hundreds of online video slot titles, many of which boast titles linked to box office hits such as Ironman, Rocky and Ted. Indeed, film executives are happy to lend their trademarked names to the games for a share in the profits.
But it is the gamification of video slots that has really brought the industry forward. No longer are games just about endless spinning, they are also now jam-packed with bonus features and hidden games to really provide the player with an immersive experience – just like many smartphone games that are available to play.
Online casinos will continue to grow
Undoubtedly though, it will be interesting to see whether the UK Gambling Commission will continue to put the pressure on online casinos, and whether this could, at some point, lead to further restrictions across the gaming industry. Indeed, the UKGC has also cracked down on casino withdrawal restrictions and unfair terms and conditions in the past year, as it looks to bring more clarity and trustworthiness into the industry – something which will be very much welcomed by online casino players.
Despite the increased restriction and regulation upon the gambling industry, it remains clear that the online segment of it continues to grow significantly in terms of popularity and is showing no signs of slowing.