The online gambling industry is simply huge and with billions of dollars exchanging accounts every year, it is one that is always moving forward, always changing and always getting better. Between all the moving parts and stats, there are quite a few fun facts which every player can find interesting and we will take a look at some of them right now.
1) The gross win for the entire gambling market worldwide is estimated to reach 390 billion dollars for 2015. 37 billion from this amount will be won by players in the interactive sector and overall the figures represent a huge increase across the past decade of over 50%.
2) The numbers for the year leading up to September 2014 show that the United Kingdom market had a gross yield of $11 billion, showing a 5% increase if we compare it to the previous year.
3) The betting industry in the UK is split into several options and the one with the highest market share is sports betting at 46%, followed by remote betting at 19% and casinos at 16%.
4) A total of 18.14 million accounts were active at UK gambling websites in the period starting from October 2013 and ending on September 2014. This represents a growth in users of 1.15 million accounts if compared to the first half of 2013.
5) The biggest prize ever won from online games came from the slot machine Mega Fortune and it was worth an astonishing €17,861,813. The lucky player hit the record-setting jackpot in January 2013.
6) After Great Britain, the biggest online casino markets in Europe are Germany, Italy and France.
7) The start of the online casino industry took place with the legalization in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994 and it provided the grounds for internet gambling.
8) Microgaming came into the scene as the first online casino software provider and it continues to be one of the biggest brands in the business, with new releases taking place every month.
9) 15 websites for online casino games using real money were launched before the year 1996 ended and the number increased to 200 in the next year.
10) Most of the big online casinos now are not associated with any land-based brands. One of the reasons for this is that the start of the industry didn’t show enough stability for the big companies to take a risk and this allowed new operators to take over the internet sector.
11) All reliable online casinos have return rates higher than 90% and this means that they only get less than 10% of the total amount of bets placed on the sites, while the players win the rest back.
12) Slot machines are by far the most popular, both in land-based casinos and on the internet, and they can come in hundreds of different variants that have different themes, features and reward functions.
13) 13 is one of the most played numbers on roulette despite the fact that it is considered unlucky.
14) The name for slot machines can be different depending on the region and they are called fruit machines in Great Britain, pokies in New Zealand and Australia and puggy as a slang used in Scotland.
15) Blackjack received its name in American casinos although it was invented in France as ving-et-un, or twenty one. The new title came from a feature that paid 10:1 when a hand was made out of a black Jack (clubs or spades) and an Ace of spades. This bonus was eliminated in time.
16) All the numbers from a roulette wheel add up to 666.
17) 17 is actually the most played number in roulette and this is due in some part to the fact that it is the number James Bond played in the movies.
18) Las Vegas casinos added an additional green pocket for double-zero and this increased the house edge from the European version. When they included the original version, players complained about it and demanded the American one back.
19) The deck of cards used now was first created in Europe in the 1300s.
20) The suits used for a deck of cards represent Royalty with Spades, Merchants with Diamonds, Peasants with Clubs and the Clergy with Hearts.
Online gambling has certainly become a huge industry worldwide, with billions of dollars at the center. However, the impressive growth took place while various restrictions were and continue to be active in key markets from around the world. In fact, studies have shown that more than half of the population of the world is subjected to some kind of online gambling restriction or a complete ban in the country.
While some of the regulations are there to protect players, the ones we are talking about are outdated laws that don’t have their place in the modern world, where the internet is intertwined with basically every industry. This, combined with the general stigma regarding online gambling, has made for regulations to prevent access to interested players from different countries and while there are plenty of signs showing improvement, change takes time to take place at such a big level.
More than 50% of the population faces restrictions
It is true that if we look at the markets in Europe from 2009 and compare them to 2012, things have come a long way in a relatively short period and they also continued to improve even more up to 2015. While this is basically the best overall time for online gaming so far, there are still plenty of restrictions active.
Studies conducted recently which covered the freedom users have when it comes to online casino games in more than 200 countries show that around 55% of the population in the covered markets is now facing an online gambling restriction or a complete ban.
Out of all of them, only a third of the countries provide licensing opportunities for casino operators and make sure citizens can easily access the regulated sites. A good part of the countries continue to ban online gambling completely and in some of the studied countries, local firms are not included in the list, thus making for a complete foreign offer for the local customers. The big chunk of the list, which is represented by about half of the countries, accounts for a grey zone where online gambling restrictions are not imposed by local governments but they also don’t approve any online casinos through licenses to operate.
This basically means that more than half of the territories in the world and included in the study have some kind of restrictions for online gambling. The good news however is that players are not actually prosecuted in some of them. Actually, in only a handful of these countries players can be punished for taking part in illegal online gambling activities, while some can issue monetary fines.
United States is most restricted
It should come as no surprise that the United States is one of the most restrictive countries when it comes to online gambling but the current regulations actually put this country at the top of the list. Its ban on online gambling continues to be a big factor even a few years after it was lifted, with individual states given the option to legalize online gambling within their borders. Some online casinos continue to accept players from the market but they are not regulated by the any commission from it. About three thirds of online casinos are will not accept customers from the US and they are usually associated with certain software developers, as Top Game or Realtime Gaming can power US-friendly casino websites; while Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Playtech and other brands will not do so.
In fact, online gambling in the US is now only completely legal and licensed in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey; with each having its own set of regulations and regulatory body to oversee the licensed operators within the respective borders.
France also has strict restrictions for online gambling, putting it high on the list along with Israel.
UK continues to grow
The countries that saw the fewest blocked online casinos were Iceland, New Zealand and Austria. However, the largest market is the United Kingdom, despite its recent tightening of regulations that added a point of consumption tax into the mix.
The online gambling market in the UK has increased by 50% from 2008 to 2014 and remote gambling participation is now over 15.4%. While there are of course regulations imposed, these are meant to protect both the customer and operator and show that online gambling can easily be controlled while giving players various options to choose from.
A great way used by online casinos to get slots players pumped is with special tournaments. These are basically a way to reward the most active users and customers can really get in on the action and win some nice prizes without doing anything different than their regular gaming sessions in most cases. The popularity of slot machine tournaments has also increased quite a bit recently and it is now used very often at the leading online casinos in the industry.
What are slots tournaments?
For those who are not familiar with the concept, slots tournaments are one kind of promotions used by online casinos to reward their customers. The system is based on one or several slot games and takes part over a set period of time. In order to win points for the tournament, players must bet real money on the eligible games. Some tournaments can also score users on their wins and not just on their bets, but it is a lot more common to just take the betting into account and not let luck influence the results that much.
Basically, for betting on the games featured in the slots tournament, you earn points. These points will determine your rank on the leaderboard. When the tournament is over, the casino will award the prize pool to a set number of players who finished in the top positions on the leaderboard.
Players who already enjoy slots on a regular basis, can simply focus on the slots in the tournament and increase their winnings with the help of the tournament prizes. Other customers which maybe are not that into slots, can find the thrill in the competition and experience an exciting new way to play casino games on the internet. It is important to mention that the winnings obtained from the actual games during the tournament remain in the possession of the player, regardless if he gets a prize or not.
What to aim for?
Slots tournaments are very interesting since they tend to cover different types of players. Online casinos know there are a few customers who are very active and will easily take the lead and so they offer the prizes to please everyone. As a result, most slots tournament have a top-heavy payout structure to reward the very active ones and also to cover many of the other players with smaller prizes.
For example, let’s say that the casino is running a $20,000 slots tournament and there are five games featured. The player who will earn the most points by betting on any of these five games during the tournament will win $4,000 of the prize pool. The second will get $2,000 and the third $1,000. These are very large prizes for simply playing slots and they will attract the most active players, with the biggest bankrolls, since more money can easily mean more bets.
However, the prize structure will also present smaller prizes, like $50 for the positions 20-30th. No matter if you want to go for the top or just for a cash prize, it is important to set a goal before getting start and also assign a realistic bankroll to help you get there.
Different types of slots tournaments
While tournaments scored on the amount of bets are the most common at online casinos, players can also opt for something different if they feel that their playing style gives them a better shot at winning.
An alternative is represented by tournaments that score participants on their biggest win. Since this is largely influenced by luck, getting a big win on the first spin can result in an additional boost from the prize pool.
There are also tournaments that score based on overall results over a series of spins. Getting the best wins across 20 spins will result in the top prize and this system is meant to reduce the influence of just one lucky round.
Some small tips
Whatever type of tournament is chosen, it is recommended to always have a set bankroll from the start that will not be exceeded in any situation. It can be very easy to get lost in the action and just make rebuy after rebuy without reaching the desired results.
Most tournaments have leaderboards that update quite often, generally once every 10 minutes. It is recommended to keep an eye on the ranking in order to see the growing rate and determine how much you need to play to maintain your position or advance for better prizes.
Lastly, since most tournaments are based on bets, it is recommended to get in early on the action in order to no fall too far behind.
When it comes to gambling, there are two major factors to keep in mind and these are great indicators for players to choose their preferred games and options. The first one is house edge, represented by the amount the player losses on each bet through the mechanics of the game, and the second one is volatility. In this guide, we will focus on the latter and try to explain it as clearly as possible so that more players will be able to know exactly what to expect when gambling on casino games.
In so many words, volatility in online casino games is represented by the way through which the wins are distributed in a specific title. Examples can range from low volatile games, like roulette, to some of the ones on the other end of the spectrum, like slots.
Placing a bet on roulette
To better explain how casino games work, let’s give an example by using the popular game of roulette. The version we will be focusing on is European roulette due to the easier layout of the numbers and the fact that it only has one zero pocket, making the house edge smaller.
If we opt for one of the outside bets, let’s say on black, we will get 1:1 if we are correct and lose the amount if we are not. However, the odds are not exactly in our favor, but not by much, since there are 18 winning numbers in this scenario and 19 losing ones. The house edge of this game is determined by the extra zero pocket, which due to the fact that is green, doesn’t fall in the two categories for colors (red and black) so it will make the player lose the bet regardless of the option he chooses; thus tipping the scales slightly in the favor of the house.
A quick calculation will reveal the fact that this game has a house edge of 2.7% and if we opt for a straight bet on only one number, the advantage will remain the same since the game will pay 36:1 although there are 37 possible outcomes.
However, the one thing that does changes between these two bets is the volatility. The second bet is a lot more volatile since the payout will come in a much larger size and at less often rates, while in the first scenario, the volatility of the bet is very low and almost one out of two bets will generate a prize.
These differences are crucial for setting bankroll management guidelines and they require different betting styles in order to make sure that you don’t go bust before you get the chance to cash in on the high volatility options.
Betting on slots
Progressive slots are the most volatile games in an online casino. This is because of the fact that although they can award prizes very often, they also have a huge payout granted on rare occasions. Some progressive slots can easily exceed one million dollars and it can take anywhere to a few months to over a year for the amount to be won. Throughout this time, the game adds up a certain percentage of all the placed bets and so its average payout percentage to the player is calculated with the jackpot in mind.
In order to make the most out of slots, you must adjust your bets and make them much smaller than the ones placed on low volatile games. The idea is to limit the impact that each bet has on the total bankroll and this is done through a smoother gameplay, without any long losing streaks that can result in a bust.
Even with regular video slots, the size of the bet should not be more than 5% of the total bankroll due to their high volatility. The risk of catching a string of unlucky spins and run out of money is too big if the bets are bigger and this will result in a loss much more significant than that created by the general house edge of the game.
Not all bets should be the same when it comes to casino games and it is important to remember the volatility that comes with each wager in order to really make the most out of a session.
Online slots account for the majority of games at most internet casinos and there are various reasons for their popularity. One of the main advantages provided by slots is that they can cover a huge variety of themes and styles, not to mention that they can have different features to increase the prizes. In addition, slots players don’t need to have any special skills or use strategies to win at slots since everything is simple and straightforward.
Even customers who are not that familiar with online casinos and just prefer to play for free will most likely opt for slots given the fact that a good part of the titles are inspired from known elements. Slot machines are even popular in land-based casinos but they don’t even come close to the possibilities offered on the internet, where there are several leading software providers that create some of the best looking casino games in the business.
A big part of the variety of slots comes from the two major categories: 3-reel and 5-reel slots. Experienced players will tell you that games from these two sections of online slots are actually quite different and it is not just about the number of reels in play, but also about the features that can be added into the mix.
A classic look with 3 reels
3-reel slots have been around for longer and they have become classic casino games. Some providers create new online slot games with the goal of reminding players of the old days of casinos. This means that the symbols used are easily recognizable by old-school casino players and often times include fruit like cherries, lemons and more, the number 7 as it is considered a very lucky symbol in slots, and the well-known BAR icons that can come in three different sets.
A lot of players enjoy 3-reel online slots because of their simplicity and the fact that there are just three reels available means that every spin is quick and easy, without added features or bonus rounds or any other such things. The number of paylines active for every spin can be as high as nine but most games in this category have three lines or just one.
Since everything is kept simple, there are no pages of text and descriptions that need to be understood in order to know how the games work. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t big prizes to be claimed and some online slots with three reels can even have huge progressive jackpots that award life changing amounts. In order to claim the top prize on a classic slot, you must get the rare combination of three symbols on a specific line, normally the third one that activates for the maximum bet.
A modern experience with 5 reels
Most of the new releases nowadays are online video slots with five reels and while these make things a bit more complicated with their features and special symbols, they also make playing more exciting. In order to know how a particular slot game works and what it has to offer, it is recommended to read the paytable or the info section displayed next to the reels.
5-reel slots come with great themes, especially the ones designed to be top titles right from the start. As a result, some providers buy licenses from movie studios to create slot games based on some of the biggest blockbusters to hit the big screen in the past few years. Superheroes, action heroes and more are now part of the online gambling industry and countless players enjoy their time with the characters.
But the theme is not the only thing that makes 5-reel slots stand out as the features can be just as impressive since they are meant to increase the winnings. Special symbols include wilds that can play the role of every regular symbol in order to create winning combinations on the lines, scatters can be paid regardless of their position on the screen and they are also often times associated with multipliers for the wins or free spins, while bonus symbols can trigger the bonus round of a video slot game that awards big prizes.
There are 243 ways to get winning combinations on a standard 5×3 slots screen and quite a few games have all of them active for each spin. Since there are more symbols in-play and a potential bonus game with various levels, the top jackpots for progressive slots with five reels can easily exceed one million dollars and there are more than a handful of games that offer such life-changing prize.
This is a question which every player asked themselves at one point or another. Is online gambling secure enough that there is no danger of losing your money? The short answer is yes but it comes with a big asterisk that puts a lot of the responsibility on the players.
There are several ways to make sure that online gambling is secure and if done right, it can be a lot safer to play online than go to a land-based casino with big amounts of money.
Avoid Shady Websites
It is no surprise that the internet has all sorts of websites looking to scam users into providing their personal and financial information. The casino industry has its fair share of such sites and since players know that they have to deposit money in order to play for real, they are already willing to offer some information thinking that everything will be fine.
Picking a website without really knowing anything about it or about the company that operates it can come with a lot of drawbacks so it is recommended for every player to carefully consider the online casino before entering any valuable information. Shady websites generally don’t look all that good since they were designed in a hurry and are not meant to be up for long periods of time or actually improve that much. Also, they don’t present all the licensing information upfront.
Get Information from the Community
Online casinos are so popular nowadays that there are huge communities built around them by experienced users. The result can be seen through various reviews and reliable websites that offer a ranking for some of the best casinos in the business based on different criteria.
Reviews can present detailed information about the websites and make choosing one a lot easier and especially more secure since all the options have proven that they are reliable. Players can often times share their own experiences with an online casino on these websites and this adds even more important information into the mix that can be used by new customers to form an opinion without having to risk any of their money in the process. Games, banking, customer support, bonuses, security and more can be found in online casino reviews.
The Page Must Be Secure
When registering an account for an online casino, you will be asked to enter some personal information that normally includes name, address and more. This is something that is stored in the casino database and not shared with a third party. However, the page has to be secure so that hackers can’t easily see what you are entering in the boxes when making the account or when adding funds to it.
Secure pages are now quite common on the internet and they can easily be spotted by looking at the address bar in the browser. A secure page has https instead of http and there is usually a closed lock accompanied by the security company logo that ensures that all information entered on this page is encrypted.
Reliable Games with Random Results
The entire concept of casino games is that it is impossible to predict the outcome and so players gamble on what they think might be the result. This means that the games have to be random so that neither the casino nor the player can take advantage of it.
Reliable online casinos that have games from major software providers guarantee this through random number generators, also known as RNG, that ensure the fact that every spin, every hand or every throw of the dice is random and not influenced by previous results or other factors. The casino can’t tamper with the process and players get a fair gaming experience every time.
This actually makes online casino games more reliable than their land based counterparts and every game has a payout percentage that lets players know what the odds are in the long run for winning.
Casino games originated from different corners of the world and while players had to travel to their local land-based casinos to access the games, things have changed a lot in recent years. The internet has provided a great way for people to enjoy their favorite casino games from around the world and this in turn has led to some noteworthy differences between some of the titles and more.
As a player with all these options available with a click of a mouse, it is important to know the major differences between versions in order to avoid making mistakes and losing money because you weren’t completely familiar with the rules. The United States of America is certainly a huge market for casino games but it is also the home of different versions of popular casino games that originated across the ocean and were brought here. Over the decades, American casinos have added their own twist to the games and they can now be quite different.
The best example is the two major roulette versions that can now be found together at leading online casinos. American and European roulette look very similar and casual players might not notice the major difference that can also change strategy and winnings.
American roulette has one extra pocket on the wheel and it is represented by a green double zero. While European roulette has only 37 pockets and one of them is green, the American version has 38. This wouldn’t be a problem if the payouts would also be different in order to match the lower odds of getting a number but they are not. As a result, the house edge for American roulette is significantly bigger than in European roulette due to that additional pocket.
The green pocket in roulette is basically how the casino ensures that it has the advantage in the long run over the players. A bet on one number will pay 35:1 although there are 37 possible outcomes. For example, if you were to place $1 bets on all the numbers, you would need $37 but you would only get back $36. In the American version, you would still get $36 back but you would have spent $38.
This results in a house edge of 2.7% for European roulette and 5.26% for American roulette. Knowing these differences can be crucial.
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world but because of its popularity, there are different major variations based on the location. The American game of blackjack has grown to become the standard one but there are also games like Pontoon, Spanish 21, Super Fun 21 and other variants that are similar to blackjack in many ways but come with some differences that can catch players unprepared.
For example, Pontoon doesn’t show any dealer hole cards and this can be useful information when making the decision. However, since it also presents other differences and a payout increase for getting 21 from the first two cards, Pontoon actually has a better house edge compared to the standard version of 21, given optimum play.
Spanish 21 doesn’t use the regular 52-card deck and instead eliminates the four tens. Since a good part of the deck in blackjack is worth 10 points and this is considered a good card, having to play without tens puts the player at a disadvantage and gives the house a 2% lead. On the other hand, Spanish 21 does come with more liberal rules that compensate for the missing cards and by following basic strategy, the house edge is lower than that found at a regular blackjack table with the standard set of rules.
Playing on the internet has also presented an interesting difference between casinos and the way players enjoy their games. While the USD remains the most popular currency for online gaming, the differences between euros, pound sterling and other currencies used in major iGaming markets can be quite tricky.
Not only do these change quite a lot over time, but it requires the players to calculate how much money they want to play in their local currency and compare it to their online bankroll. The simple solution would be to play at a casino that accepts the currency you are using in real life but again, there are only three or four that really come with a variety of casinos. This is why it is important to know what casino you want to join and be aware of the differences in currencies if that is the case.
With the popularity that Blackjack has in casinos, most players don’t even pay attention to other similar version of the famous card game. However, some actually provide better opportunities to win while still keeping the same gameplay that requires more than luck to make sure that winning is a big part of the game. Spanish 21 is the perfect example as it is a version of regular Blackjack that comes with a major change and various smaller modifications that make for more liberal rules.
All the changes make Spanish 21 a better game to try out for those that really want to put the time and the effort into playing blackjack the right way and create a strategy that will make for one of the lowest house edges among all casino games.
Spanish 21 Highlights
For those that are already familiar with blackjack, Spanish 21 should be very easy and the differences are quite easy to get used to. First off, the most important difference is that this version of the card game doesn’t use regular decks of 52 cards. Instead, it uses Spanish decks that only have 48 cards due to the lack of the four tens. Since a good part of the deck is worth ten points in blackjack, the removal of four good cards for most cases is indeed not ideal for the player.
By following the same rules as in regular blackjack but playing without tens, the house edge increases and gives the dealer an advantage of about 2%. However, Spanish 21 also changes the rules and allows for fewer restrictions and this more than makes up for the smaller decks.
The list of differences is quite long but some of the other highlights include the fact that the player blackjack always beats the dealer blackjack and the same applies when it is a normal 21. Doubling down can be done on any hand, even after splitting, and there is even the option to re-double down if the first one didn’t go as expected. The surrender option is available even after doubling down. Aces can be split and a player can split up to three times during a hand to create a total of four groups of cards.
Spanish 21 Bonuses
Where Spanish 21 really makes it advantageous for the player is in the bonuses section. While these do not apply after doubling down, they do offer additional payouts for certain combinations. Getting 21 in 5 cards will pay a bonus of 3:2 while getting the lucky number in 6 cards will pay 2:1 and for 7 or more cards, the pay is 3:1. Getting 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 will pay 3:2 if they are not of the same suit and 2:1 if they are, with the exception of spades that pays 3:1. The biggest bonus is worth 50:1 and is granted on a hand of 7-7-7 when the dealer is already showing a 7. Keep in mind that Spanish 21 is normally played with eight decks at the same time.
When playing online, the rules are explained at the table so that players know what to expect.
Spanish 21 Strategy
As previously mentioned, playing Spanish 21 correctly will not just make up for the lack of tens but will actually make the house edge lower than that in regular blackjack with ideal play. While most of the same tips apply from the normal version, there are some modifications to Spanish Blackjack.
One of them is that doubling is done more often and it is recommended to double on a hard 11 no matter what card the dealer is showing. With three cards, doubling down should not be done against an ace or a ten and with four or more cards, doubling down should not be done when the dealer is showing an eight, a seven, a six or a two.
Since the tens have been removed, doubling on soft hands is not a good idea in most cases. A soft 14 and lower can be doubled and so can a 15, but only when the dealer is showing a six and you don’t have more than four cards.
Splitting is also more common Spanish 21 and most paired hands should be doubled, unless they are fours or fives. 9-9 is a pretty difficult hand and it is recommended to stand only if the dealer has a 2, a 7, a 10 or an ace and just split otherwise. This is due to the fact that the dealer needs at least a 17 to stand.