Brick-and-Mortar to Bytes: The Transition of London’s Casino Scene Online


    The idea of online gaming was far-fetched to a significant number of bettors all over London. The UK, in particular, has been synonymous with its land-based casinos that have gone as far as gracing our screens in the movies. Thanks to technology though, the impossible has been unravelling right before our eyes, and it’s epic.

    Aside from tech, the COVID-19 pandemic played an integral part in moving gambling possibilities from brick-and-mortar establishments to the comfort of Brits’ homes. The ability to indulge in this activity while still adhering to government regulations on social distance and safety was a welcomed idea that has stuck since then.

    So where did it all begin? What are the roots of gambling in the UK and how did the transition take place? Here’s a read explaining all that.

    In the Beginning

    Before the rise of online betting sites in the UK, brick-and-mortar casinos were the in thing. You only had to gather a few pounds set aside for the betting, identify a local betting place and get started.

    Before that privilege was accorded to them, there was only one legal way to bet. Place your wager on greyhounds or horses. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the first casino was established. A large number of individuals from poor backgrounds lost their property to gambling while attempting to wager their way into wealth.

    Sadly, most of them had to relocate to other cities when their attempt to improve their lives through betting failed.

    The seventeenth century saw the rise of gambling at the King’s table. Gambling was permissible in this single location, but obviously, Brits found ways of indulging in illegal betting activities. As a result, the King gave Sir Thomas Neale the power to shut down all illegal gambling spots in the UK’s capital.

    The 18th and 19th centuries were characterized by fluctuating differences between the haves and the have-nots of the era. There weren’t any tangible regulations restricting bettors from wagering, and this saw many individuals suffer the brunt of irresponsible gaming.

    Unlike today where many sites foster responsible gambling, gamblers didn’t these options back then. The luxury of choosing to bet in Gamstop slots and slots sites not on Gamstop wasn’t even a concept they had thought of.

    The Kray twins of the 20th century brought in a new dimension to gambling. An establishment in their care became the talk of the town and the top tourist attraction. Most, if not all, of their guests were tycoons from all over the world.

    The type of individuals visiting their hotel were willing to splurge on the luxurious establishment. After a hard and tedious battle with gambling, the activity was legalized in 1960. Shortly after, the 1961 Gambling Act came on the rise, a resolution that fueled the birth of over 1000 betting establishments in London and its environs.

    The idea behind the act was to take off gambling from the streets. Subsequently, it was to provide the government with more control over betting activities and revenues collected from its proceedings.

    The growth of the gambling industry was a revelation regarding the need to set up more regulations and laws to govern how people interacted with wagering.

    Traditional greyhound and horserace betting became less popular, with Brits giving their focus to emerging sports like soccer, football, rugby and others.

    When Tech Started Trickling In

    The early 90s ushered in a new era characterized by online gaming. The US was among the first countries to establish an online casino, in 1994. However, it took the UK another four years after this to catch up with the developments.

    The sportsbook offered sports betting services to popular games at the time. And as entities like Microgaming began flooding the gambling market with other gaming options, the need to legalize online casinos became evident.

    This birthed the Gambling Act of 2005. This new regulation was ideal in ensuring that all money collected from gambling was received by the rightful authorities for taxation. This was a big blow to the black market.

    Online betting became safer for Brits thereby minimizing the number of cases recorded regarding gambling fraud.

    All wagering entities in the UK had to procure a license from the UK Gambling Commission if they wanted to gain popularity among the wagering community. Not long after, many other casinos made their way into the online betting scene. Competition became stiff. Then the idea of promotions and bonuses was introduced into the equation.

    Gamblers had access to freebies and loyalty programs aimed at making them stick to particular casinos. Classic slots lost their touch and paved the way for 2D and 3D slots. Card games had also made a debut into the betting scene and gamblers were enjoying the variety.

    And as the providers kept increasing, so did the number of slots that graced the betting scene. With time, these slots and pre-programmed card games became monotonous. Luckily, Microgaming was already ahead of the game with the creation of the first live casino provision.

    This allowed live casino lovers to join in the bandwagon and wager from their homes. The software and video quality were poor, especially during the first few years. However, advancements in camera quality and tech improved the appearance of live-streamed videos, thereby increasing the popularity of these live casino games.

    The rise of smartphones then ushered in the era of gambling on the go. Internet providers then added a spanner in the works and offered 3G internet that was deemed fast, at the time. What followed was a surge in the number of online casinos in London and the UK at large. The less popular brick-and-mortar almost lost their relevance.

    A Quick Word

    Gambling in London has taken a different trajectory than what it was three centuries ago. The online space has brought with it multiple gaming options that have reduced the number of people visiting land—based casinos, significantly. There’s space for more growth now that tech is advancing even more.