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  1. The FIFA World Cup only rolls around once every four years, but when it does, it causes a stir that is felt worldwide. It is officially recognised as the most significant sporting event in the world, with industry experts predicting that viewership with reach an all-time high of 5 billion. If these predictions prove accurate, it will eclipse its 2018 World Cup viewership of 3.5 billion! While many consider the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be more relevant to the online betting community, the truth is that it has had an incredible impact on how casino games are developed. Join us as we delve into the popularity of soccer-themed slots and other casino games. The Popularity of Themed Casino Games Before casino games were infused with stories and incredible graphics, the casino had to grab the attention of its intended audience. Many casinos achieved this by providing thematic experiences which allowed them to stand out from the crowd. While a small number of online casinos like the River Belle, Lucky Luke and Cookie Casino have continued this tradition, most of the heavy lifting in terms of player engagement now lies with the casino games themselves. And once again, games where themes, stories, and fascinating new worlds can be explored lead the charge in terms of interest, entertainment value and revenue generation. The most appealing blank canvas in this regard is the humble slot machine. It allows casino Game developers to overlay any setting they can imagine and fill the reels with characters to support the narrative. Bonus rounds and special features can also be themed to add value to the story and increase player engagement through entertainment. Our slot theme page features 64 game groups, including topics like ancient Egypt, Irish Folklore, Superheroes, Horror, Fishing, Bitcoin, Sports, and dozens more. Each of these then contains a myriad of sub-themes to allow fans to find the exact game that meets their needs. The World Cup Boosts Soccer-Themed Games The soccer theme is one of the genres that have seen a rush of new game releases in recent weeks. What has been surprising is how the application of football as a theme has extended beyond just Online Slots to include several other game types. Here is a breakdown of the new soccer-themed casino games you can enjoy in 2022! ✓ Football video slots As we mentioned, video slots are the ideal playground for software developers looking to create colourful and engaging football-themed titles. One of the hottest new releases in this category has been the Spin & Score Megaways slot by Pragmatic Play. The game has you pick a team to support, and each spin of the reels has you trying to score wins of up to 5000x your bet with the help of the ever-popular Megaways reel feature. ✓ Celebrity Soccer Games If you are a fan of classic footballers, you know who Diego “Dios” Maradona is. Maradona wowed fans and critics in his heyday with his splendid footwork and goal-scoring magic. Even the infamous “Hand of God” goal only added to his legend. One of our favourite releases this World Cup is the D10S Maradona slot by Blueprint Gaming. The slot release pays homage to this football rockstar with gorgeous hand-sketched artwork, a high-value Free Spins feature and the chance to score 10,000x your bet. ✓ Football Table Games While not many innovative football-themed table games exist, developers have not left their fans out in the cold. Playtech offers a Soccer Premium Blackjack table where fans can enjoy a hand of European Blackjack in an environment decked with football imagery and paraphernalia. There are also scratch card games like Ultimate Soccer Scratch 2 by Casino Web Scripts, allowing fans to scratch their football itch without kicking a ball. Each card consists of 9 symbols that need to be cleared. Match any three values to score a big win! ✓ Live Casino Games Fans of soccer and dice games are in for a treat with Football Studio Dice by Evolution Gaming. The game is heralded as the industry’s first-ever dice football game and was released just in time to get on board the FIFA World Cup hype train. Like with any football match, you get to bet on a Home team win, an Away team win or a Draw. The game's outcome is determined by the total of two dice for each side. There are also exciting Draw rewards, one of which is up to 80x your bet. ✓ Soccer Crash Games An increasingly popular genre of games is the Crash Games vertical. The premise is simple, you place your bet and watch an object (generally a plane or rocket) travel across the screen. The further it travels, the greater its win multiplier grows. You can cash out at any time and claim your winnings, but if you are still in the game when the object crashes, you lose your bet. Gamzix swapped out an aeroplane for a soccer ball in their sports-inspired Pilot Cup crash game. With an RTP of 96.6% and a simple gameplay mechanic, Pilot Cup is a fantastic way to get into the World Cup spirit. With its global appeal, it is not surprising that there is a lot of interest in playing new games that feature football players and various soccer symbols and features. After all, it all adds to the hype surrounding the FIFA World Cup spectacle!
  2. Some online gambling platforms have the secret, and through consistent efforts with continued improvements, they provide punters with unsurpassed remote gambling. Others choose shortcuts, and it shows in the results. Let’s unpack the essence of a successful online casino and discover what it takes to present players with the best gambling entertainment available. A Spoon Full of Insight Although some think so, not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can create a thriving online casino. Core requirements for an igaming platform’s success lie beneath coding skills and game titles. The company must have the industry know-how and understand its players. Location is the obvious difference between land-based casinos and remote gambling platforms, but other factors differentiate the two as well. Loyal fans of land-based gambling facilities prefer the sights, sounds, and smells of a physical casino. Land-based casinos are vehicles of entertainment experiences that surpass mere gambling. On the contrary, online gamblers enjoy having their favourite casino games at their fingertips instead of travelling to a far-off destination. If an online casino founder understands their target audience at a much deeper level, it allows them to attract loyal players. Every detail, from graphic work to regulatory compliance, is key in hosting the best online gambling and those who get it right land on lists like GamblersPick Select. Time to Get Technical Soft skills are essential to lay a solid foundation for establishing a top-tier casino, but tech innovation led to the first and best online casinos. Those who apply it correctly end up on the road to success. ✓ Buckets of Tech Talent online casinos rely on two senses - sight and hearing - although the latter is not as crucial as the former. With this in mind, platform providers must tap into the creative-tech employee pool and build the best possible design team they can afford. Platform design has so much to do with a casino’s success, and proper talent can help set it apart from the rest. ✓ A Generous Amount of Design Work The landing page of an online casino is akin to window displays in retail stores. Well-thought-through branding, colour schemes, and language that speaks to the target audience are key ingredients for this section of the casino. If mixed correctly, it attracts the right players and helps to grow the casino’s following. What a customer experiences after the landing page are just as important and will determine whether they sign up and become a loyal player. Thanks to continuous improvements in technology, casino developers can create platforms that perform at optimum speed. Along with speed, a user-friendly interface leads to successful sign-ups. Easy-to-use websites have much higher conversion rates than complicated ones. The basic rule is that when players find it easy to navigate the platform, they enjoy it more and are likely to return. So, if it looks good and the layout enables easy navigation, chances are it will succeed. ✓ Blend In Trusted Payment Solutions Land-based casinos accept various payment methods like cash, debit, and credit cards. Online casinos have the added advantage of various payment solutions like e-wallets and cryptocurrency. Because online gambling is a global phenomenon, operators must take care to select reputable payment providers and ensure the players in their area have enough options to choose from. Verified payment methods that make it easy for players to deposit money to their profiles lead to customer satisfaction. Reputable online casinos offer players deposit solutions according to the region they are in, and most countries allow debit cards, EFT, and e-wallet solutions. One area where many platform providers see their creation fall flat is when players need to make a withdrawal. Withdrawal options must be straightforward with no unnecessary delays, and Ts & Cs should not limit players in this area. Before depositing money with any casino, read through their payment terms. Here is a list of various payment methods. Casino providers must offer players payment solutions in their local currency. Therefore, the platform must accept all currencies from the various jurisdictions it provides services to. This means that the platform needs robust software. Cryptocurrency is a recent addition in this area, and certain punters prefer this above all. Savvy operators accept payments and withdrawals in Bitcoin and altcoins. These are our top-rated bitcoin casinos. ✓ Combine with Reliable Security Regulations stipulate that gambling platforms need to follow specific customer verification protocols. This means that players divulge sensitive and personal information during the sign-up process. It is essential that operators use the highest level of security on their websites, and encryption is one factor that helps with this. All licensed casinos must maintain specific security levels or forfeit their legal status. This includes SSL certification, represented by the HTTPS in front of a website name. Games securities are very important as well, and we cover that a little later in this article. The Secret Ingredient Without this, online casinos should not exist, and players must avoid unlicensed platforms at all costs. ✓ Reputable Licensing Once a gambling company has all the above ingredients, it needs a valid license to operate in jurisdictions where online gambling is allowed. Although some areas still prohibit remote gambling, many global regions allow licensed operators to provide games of chance. The most reputable gambling authorities include, among others, the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, and more regional inspectorates. Depending on the area the casino will focus on, it may need regional licensing like those from the Dutch gambling authority or the Swedish inspectorate. GamblersPick can help you find the best option with our list of licensed casinos in your area. Creating a Wager Sensation With innovative and talented staff on board, excellent design work done, and the correct licences in place, an operator can nearly launch the website. One essential ingredient still missing is a games library. Here, the right software providers lead the way. ✓ Stir in Excellent Content There are many software providers in the igaming industry, but some enjoy much more fame than others. This is either because they have a knack for creating excellent content or because they have been around the block. Remote gambling veterans spot the best Game developers through experience with their casino titles, but novice players must sift through the massive variety to find the best options. The best online casino platforms ensure a solid mix between quantity and quality to provide a variety of enjoyable games. Variety speaks to different personalities and allows the operators to cater for a broader audience. By purposefully picking the best software providers, operators also make sure the RNG technology is sound and verified. This provides peace of mind to players and ensures fair gameplay. With the success of the igaming industry over the last two decades, we are spoilt for choice with top software providers. Depending on the games a player prefers, the best content developers include NetEnt, Playson, Evolution Gaming, Evoplay, and Microgaming, and the list continues. Take Extra Care with These Although essential to the platform’s success, these ingredients set an excellent operator apart from the mediocre and terrible ones. ✓ Social Responsibility Although a small part of the gambling community suffers from compulsive gambling disorders, one instance of gambling harm is too many. Because of this, gambling regulators expect a certain level of social responsibility from their licensees to ensure player protection is a priority. The most common feature in this area is a self-exclusion option, but certain regions enforce wager, deposit, and loss limits as well. Operators must do everything in their power to minimise gambling-related harm, and this includes reaching out to players who display risky gambling behaviour. ✓ A Touch of Customer Support Because most reputable gambling operators provide services across the globe, multi-lingual customer support with 24-hour accessibility is a key ingredient to building lasting relationships with patrons. The best platforms have effective solutions in this area where friendly service agents solve any reasonable challenges a customer might have. Quick solutions like AI-powered live chats or agent support via a live pop-up streamline the process and allows players to get what they came for, gambling entertainment. Customer service is a make-or-break area for any business, but because of the variety of platforms players can choose from, this is even more crucial for online casinos. ✓ Drench in Attractive Marketing Marketing includes smart ads accessible to the target audience, and exciting bonus offers to get them started. Here, operators need to comply with individual regulators’ specs. Regardless of how many offers a player can get, the quality of the marketing tools allows online casinos to increase their market share and rewards players for supporting them. Have Your Cake, and Eat It When an online gambling platform has all the above features, it makes for the perfect remote casino experience. At GamblersPick, we only recommend the best providers in the industry and help punters avoid disappointment with dicey businesses. Reputable casinos will have good ratings and will always have the right licenses in place. By checking for the right things, punters can enjoy unsurpassed gambling and perhaps win big.
  3. For gamblers in the twenty-first century, it is extremely easy to enjoy a quick flutter, whether it is at an online operator or their nearest land-based casino. The layered tale of how this all came into being covers centuries of yo-yo regulations, complete with visionary entrepreneurs that shaped gambling as we know it. Take a trip down memory lane with us as we explore details about the individuals that contributed to the success of gambling leading up to the present. Some had the power to change laws, while others had the money to establish casinos. Let's take a historical and biographical spin around the globe! A Brief History of Legal Gambling Games of chance and man's love for it date back to prehistoric times. Unsurprisingly, gambling's legal state varied greatly over the centuries, and its prohibition reigned for long periods at a time. Legal gambling is, in fact, very new compared to how long we've used games of chance as entertainment. Except for certain regions in Europe, most gambling only enjoyed legal status at the beginning of the 20th century. Although there were short periods before this where countries allowed citizens to enjoy making wagers, the most solid legislation came into the equation around the 1930s in America and 1960 for Britain. Decades later, the internet and innovative gambling tycoons led to the remote gambling industry that today allows millions of players worldwide to enjoy wagering wherever they find themselves. People Who Paved the Way Changes in the industry came about gradually as more regions from various continents legalised casinos, and the individuals that propelled these changes included congress members, wealthy dreamers, and talented software developers. Here are brief biographies of the individuals that shaped the gambling world. Europe ✓ Il Ridotto and the Great Council of Venice The first known permitted casino dates back to 1638, when the Great Council of Venice opened a temporary private room during that year's carnival. They named the public casino il Ridotto and planned to close it once the carnival packed up. Although the Roman Catholic Church objected to the practice of gambling, it was public demand and full government coffers that kept the gambling house flourishing. Thanks to the people of the Great Council, this gambling house inspired others in surrounding regions like Paris and Monaco, which essentially kick-started the global casino industry. Unfortunately, the Ridotto didn't survive reformist Giorgi Pisani's motion to close it and its doors shut forever in 1774. ✓ Cardinal Jean-Theodore, Bavaria Through the approval of a decree, Cardinal Jean Theodore of Bavaria allowed for the opening of the second oldest casino in the world, Redoute casino. The facility opened in 1762 and trades to this day, although its name changed to Casino Spa. A few years later, another casino opened as part of a bathhouse in the German region, Baden Baden. At the time, it was the casino for royalty, but Baden Baden Casino exists to this day, with its elaborately luxurious interiors, and is open to all gamblers. ✓ Prince Florestan I and Francois Blanc, Monaco Gambling and European Aristocracy have strong ties that date back centuries. In 1856, Monaco's Prince Florestan, the first, passed a concession for the opening of the region's first bathing house and casino. Monaco only experienced genuine success in its gambling industry two years later, after Hamburg's Francois Blanc entered the country and built a casino. Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo came into being in 1858. USA Like all other parts of the globe, North America has a complicated history with gambling. It wasn't until the 20th century that casinos were legally allowed in some states. ✓ Governor Fred Balzar Opens Reno Following over two decades of prohibition and countless illegal operations, Nevada State Assemblyman Phil Tobin introduced Bill 98, which allowed for wide-open gambling in the state. Governor Fred Balzar understood the financial implications and signed the bill into law on 19 March 1931. From there, small gambling venues traded for a decade in Reno before the first Las Vegas licences appeared. ✓ Thomas Hull and El Rancho Armed with his Las Vegas licence, entrepreneur Tommy Hull built the first hotel-casino in Sin City. Rumour has it that the land owner offered it to Hull for free, but he insisted on paying $1,000 per acre and took 57 acres from her. Hull's casino celebrated outstanding success, and its surrounding area later became known as the Vegas Strip. We all know how the rest of this story goes. Today, Las Vegas is the gambling hub of the West and the Strip houses 31 stupendous casinos and resorts. ✓ Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson and Atlantic City New Jersey is yet another gambling jurisdiction with a long history of gambling, starting before the prohibition era. Locals tell the tales of how it was a well-known attraction to find all prohibited goods and services in this state. During his time as the leader of the Atlantic County and Atlantic City governments, Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson publicly admitted to the lawlessness of his state. For a good reason, he had the reputation of a powerful city boss. Although his methods were crooked, Johnson paved the way for Atlantic City's casino industry's success. Federal Authorities eventually grew tired of Johnson's criminal approach and arrested him. The first legal casino opened in the 70s after countless landmark hotels were closed and demolished. Britain The first legal casino in the UK opened its doors in 1961, following the government's release of the Betting and Gambling Act that year. ✓ The Casino Club and George Alfred James Some refer to him as 'The Father of British Casinos' and The Casino Club Port Talbot was George Alfred James' brainchild that launched his UK casino empire. Located in Wales, the spectacular facility included a fine dining restaurant for 400 people, illuminated floors, and cabaret performances for the wealthy aristocrats of the area. Frequent guests comprised celebrities and other rich and famous Brits. One year after this, James expanded his casino business and opened the doors of the Prince of Wales club in Cardiff, The Golden Horseshoe in London, and The Kingsway Casino in SouthPort. The latter became a flagship in James' empire with events like celebrity appearances and top musical performances, merging casinos and entertainment in the UK for the unforeseeable future. Macau Like most regions, Macau's gambling history includes power struggles and regulatory challenges. Nonetheless, Macau became the world's leading gambling hub in a short 4 decades. ✓ Stanley Ho He may not have been the most popular guy in the room or world, but Macau's journey to the gambling capital of the world started with Stanley Ho's monopoly casino empire. He secured a gambling monopoly licence for Macau in the 60s and worked his magic. Under the syndicate, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) Ho started with the New Garden Casino and a year later opened the casino hotel, Estoril. Nearly a decade later, after establishing smaller gambling venues across the city, STDM presented its flagship casino, the Lisboa Hotel, where patrons enjoyed traditional Chinese games and Baccarat, blackjack, and slot machines. The Lisboa had the first VIP rooms, leading to Macau's flourishing junket operator's industry. Ho's reign and his monopoly ended in 2002 when the Chinese government freed up the gaming industry. Online Gambling In 1994, the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda established the Free Trade and Processing Act, which allowed licences for online gambling companies. Regarding whom the first official online casino provider was, it remains arguable, but the following had a tremendous impact on the igaming world. ✓ Roger Raatgever and Martin Moshal South African-born business graduate Roger Raatgever was Martin Moshal's investment and loan banker when Moshal faced a declined loan application to start a software company. Raatgever believed the online gambling company had potential and offered Moshal loan security for a 50% share in what would become Microgaming. Their company officially launched in 1994, and Raatgever was the CEO. Microgaming launched its first online slot, Cash Splash, in 1998 with the first progressive jackpot. In collaboration with other industry leaders, Raatgever worked to break down industry stigmas, and they created the Interactive Gaming Council, which became a pioneering regulatory body in iGaming. ✓ Denise Coates and Bet365 The cutthroat gambling industry does not have many female faces in executive positions, but UK-born Denise Coates is not just any lady. In 1995, her father offered her the chance to manage their family business, a betting shop chain. Driven by the absolute conviction that online sports betting is the way to go, Coates persuaded her lawyer brother to join forces with her and with his support, she launched Bet365. Bet365 is one of the world's most reputable online betting platforms. Two decades of hard work allowed Denise to help shape the sports betting global market. ✓ Big Time Gaming Online gambling in all its forms was well established by the time that Nic Robinson founded his software company named Big Time Gaming. Since his company's launch in 2011, it has contributed to unforgettable changes in the iGaming industry. Most notably, Robinson's business invented the crazy mechanics that power Megaways, and since then, slots were never the same. BTG became part of the innovative live casino company, Evolution in 2021, and the partnership continues to shake things up in igaming. A Golden Future It may have taken a century to shape the gambling industry into what it is today, but the speed of change and innovation change gears constantly with the rapid growth of late. These figures made invaluable changes for gambling and casinos, and many more will follow as we move into the era of virtual reality and the metaverse. One thing remains clear, the future of gambling is as exciting as the colourful tales in its history.
  4. Some gamblers have a list of superstitions and create habits around these as they believe it will increase their odds. The truth is that whether you believe in lucky charms or cross your fingers before clicking spin, your probability of winning doesn’t change. Yes, some games have better odds than others, and certain online casino games allow players to use their skills and increase their chance to win, but the one certainty in gambling is that the house always wins. That being said, there are approaches you can take to improve your experience and minimise your risk. Navigate your gambling activities according to the best and worst times to wager, as the wisest of gamblers do. Let’s explore when it is safe to place bets and when you should rather watch your favourite series. To Bet or Not to Bet? That is the Question! One way to approach gambling is to consider whether it’s the best or worst time to make a wager. An important deciding factor here is whether you have access to licensed and regulated online casinos. When the answer to this is yes, the following points can direct your decision. Good Times To Bet: ✓ You Have Money You Can Afford to Lose Thanks to the golden rule mentioned earlier, the only time it makes sense to gamble is when you have money you can afford to lose. Always consider the house-edge rule before having a flutter, and understand that you may lose everything you bet, regardless of the game you choose. Once you are comfortable with losing the money, go ahead and pick games with better RTP ratings. With online slots, the average acceptable rating is 95% and above. Table games like blackjack have better odds, and so do other online casino games. Take a look at our gambling strategies for the best options. ✓ You Have a Budget and a Target So, you have established that you are ok with losing the money you bet, and you know which games you prefer. The trick to staying in control of gambling is to manage your bankroll effectively. This advice will come up time and again from anyone who understands sensible gambling. If you want to gamble, it must be part of your budget, and it is paramount that you stick to the budget. When you reach your spending limit, it is time to walk away. Similarly, players must have a win limit in place. If this sounds bizarre, that is probably because it seems counter-intuitive. Don’t we play casino games to win money and lots of it? Yes, but a winning streak can just as easily turn into a losing streak and players get caught up in chasing the losses. Without a win limit, the risk of losing everything becomes much more likely. A win limit makes it easier to know when to walk away. ✓ Operators Have Promotions With steps one and two in place, punters can confidently find fun games to play at the best online casinos. On affiliate sites like GamblersPick, players get information on the newest and top offers from operators available in their region. These include deposit match bonus offers and free spin offers. Depending on the time of year, it may also include tournaments with massive prizes. Use the tools at your disposal, like news articles and community updates from affiliates. If your casino of choice has an option for a newsletter, sign up. This way, you stay ahead of the best promotions and get the first option in participating. Loyalty programs often include attractive offers that improve as your membership status grows. Find the best VIP offers and take advantage of them. ✓ It’s the Holidays The holidays make people more generous, except Ebenezer Scrooge, of course, which makes it a great time for online gambling offers. Most providers have tournaments with exciting prizes to give away during the holidays. International and local celebrations often inspire software providers to release aptly themed games, which makes it so much more fun to play. With a responsible plan for managing your bankroll, there are few other times of the year where it is as much fun to gamble. Because celebrations tend to include alcohol, we suggest you continue reading this article for advice on drinking and wagering. ✓ You Are in High Spirits Because casino games vary in outcomes, gambling may sometimes feel like an emotional roller-coaster ride. For this reason, it is wise to wager only when you are in high spirits. This is simply because winning triggers positive feelings, and losing potentially does the opposite, especially when you are feeling down. When you are in a good mental space, it is easier to remain in control of your emotions throughout the win-lose ride of gambling. This empowers you to walk away when the time comes. When in a negative mindset, gambling can be a slippery slope. When players make wagers and hope the outcomes will improve their emotional state, they become susceptible to gambling harm by chasing a big win. If you are having a great day and you have responsible wagering measures in place, it is a good time to bet. If not, rather choose a different way to pass the time. Betting for the Right Reasons To have some fun To switch off for a few minutes To enjoy a game you are skilled at Don’t Bet When: ➀ You are Cash Strapped As previously mentioned, to have an enjoyable casino experience means having a well-planned budget. Therefore, if your bank balance is low or you haven’t covered all your monthly expenses yet, it is a bad time to gamble. Researchers found that those who find themselves in a financial predicament and turn to gambling as a solution or distraction are twice as likely to suffer from gambling harm. Some may think that ‘smart’ wagers can turn their situation around, and if lady luck smiles on them, the difficult times are over. In reality, there is no way of telling whether you will win or not. When in doubt, refer to step 1 of the previous section. Only gamble when you can afford to lose. ➁ You are Chasing a Loss This is easy to fall prey to when it has been an especially lucky gambling session. When we’re on a winning streak, and suddenly our luck turns, we often continue gambling hoping the tides turn again. This is where the loss and win limits become extremely helpful. Regardless of your game of choice, call it a day once you reach your loss limit. Because gambling has a way of evoking powerful emotions, limits have to be predetermined according to your budget. Do not give in to thoughts of adjusting your limits during gameplay. Take control of each gambling session by knowing your budget and limits, and stick to it. ➂ You’ve Had Too Many Drinks Let’s be honest. We are talking about online gambling, and it isn’t like you will stumble onto a casino floor from a night out at the hotel club or cocktail bar, but online gambling is accessible anywhere, anytime. Studies revealed that when gamblers use alcohol excessively or wager while intoxicated, the likelihood of getting themselves into a financial pickle is quite high. The well-documented fact that alcohol and other narcotics impair our ability to make reasonable decisions is a guiding factor. If you are planning to let your hair down by having a few drinks, leave the gambling for another day. ➃ You’ve Been Gambling For Too Long Gambling is meant to be a fun pastime and should not take time away from important areas in your life. Unless you are a professional poker player, it is advisable to use time limits. Many operators have responsible gambling tools that can help players with this. Use the time limit tool to ensure you don’t lose track of time. A healthy gambling regime comprises limits for spending, winning, losing, and time. Whichever one shows up first is your cue to walk away. Reasonable time limits depend on the game you choose to play. Those with quick or instant results like online slots, video poker, craps, and the like can quickly become dangerous games if played for too long. Strategy games like live blackjack and live poker require players to pay attention while applying their skills, and once exhaustion kicks in, poor decision making follows. Set your time limit and end your session once the buzzer signals. ➄ You Have a History of Compulsive Gambling If you have ever been diagnosed by a professional or show any signs of gambling addiction, there is no good or right time to gamble. The best approach for anyone who displays signs of gambling compulsion is to stay away from all forms of gambling through self-exclusion programs and seek counselling for support on the road to recovery. If you or anyone you know is having a difficult time with responsible gambling, reach out to your national gambling support program. UK players have BeGambleAware, GamCare, and GameStop to turn to, and players from other jurisdictions can contact their local health systems for guidance. Betting for the Wrong Reasons Chasing a Loss To make up for a short To turn your luck around To Improve Your Mood Healthy Habits At the end of the day, gambling must be a fun activity used for entertainment and not to make money, unless you are Phil Ivey. The most responsible approach to wagering includes the above measures. Focus on making these habits and walk away when the game isn’t fun anymore.
  5. Responsible Gambling is not a new concept in the world of wagering. Sadly, there is still some stigma attached to gambling disorders and for this reason, many problem gamblers don’t ask for help. When referring to safer gambling in the industry, we often talk about the practices put in place by gaming providers to prevent gambling harm and addiction. Just as the gambling industry evolves, so player protection protocols must adapt and flow into more effective outcomes. Thankfully, technological advances and scientific studies make this possible. Technology helps gambling companies to keep their finger on the pulse of the high-speed market and studies show them how to apply the technologies to best prevent harmful behaviour. The massive growth curve in online gambling throughout the past two years means that platform providers have their hands full. Long-term social effects of the pandemic may expose vulnerable players to greater risk and lead to new occurrences of problem gambling and addiction. Industry leaders create platforms to share best practices and global regulators constantly take steps toward more aware and effective player protection. These tendencies make it clear that there is a sincere hunger for improvement in this regard. So how has responsible gaming changed and what more can be done as stakeholders align practises with the new normal? The Evolution of Responsible Gambling The saying goes: We don’t know what we don’t know. Moving into a conscious state has various levels. The first is unconscious incompetence. Although gambling and the concept of player protection are not a new thing, online gambling and efficacious protection protocols have evolved over their brief existence. Industry leaders learn as more evidence becomes available, which shapes and improves the topic. The first type of protection method came as prohibition, but lawmakers soon discovered that this didn’t keep citizens from gambling illegally. Black market gambling is one of the biggest problems for gambling harm, therefore governments sought safer approaches and started regulating games. The gambling industry boomed, and casinos were thriving, while encouraging players to gamble more, place bigger bets, and stay longer. It became apparent that these bottom-line drivers were enabling gambling-related harm, and the government stepped in with responsible gambling policies. The establishing of national gambling addiction organisations where at-risk players can register themselves was one of the steps taken. This process used to be a manual one where people had to visit the organisation to register. Registered gamblers would opt for self-exclusion and counselling offered by the government. With the tremendous accessibility of online gambling and technology that allows for mobile gaming, the risks and exposure are much higher. Lawmakers recognised this, as did many of the biggest casino operators, and this brought forth greater social responsibility practices. Today, features empower players to take control of their deposits and the time they spend playing. Operators use AI to encourage better gambling choices and to keep track of player patterns. Although gambling harm instances have decreased, industry leaders seek to eradicate it and we must learn from history to prevent recurring cycles of harm. Prevention is Better than Cure Having the right information allows for informed choices, and this is one of the major driving forces behind current safer gambling practices. A fundamental truth is that the ultimate decision to gamble lies with the player, and this is where the industry aims to change behaviour. Awareness campaigns throughout the world attempt to educate the public on gambling harm. Some are more effective than others. Recent studies in Australia revealed positive messages relate to greater behavioural changes and encourage gamblers to make use of the tools at their disposal. The study also exposed that these types of messages opened the stage for healthy discussions on gambling addiction instead of fuelling the stigma attached to it. Other regions approach their duty of care from the premise of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ or by making certain decisions for the players. Examples of these would be advertisement bans and deposit caps. The fine line between protecting players and pushing them toward unregulated sites is where regulators and providers need to be mindful. Different Regional Requirements An ongoing challenge faced by regulated operators is the varying requirements of the global igaming market. Different regulators have different requirements, with some countries having different rules for each of their regions. GamblersPick has a great tool for players to familiarise themselves with the relevant laws in their area and if gambling is legal. Playing with a regulated provider is the first step to responsible gambling. Africa - Most of Africa is still a grey market. However, punters in South Africa can enjoy legal and safe online gambling at certain sites. Their Gambling Act of 1996 has guidelines for operators and by choosing a licensed platform, players can wager with peace of mind. Asia - Although the largest percentage of the world’s population lives on this massive continent, most Asian countries either prohibit online gambling or restrict it in some manner. Asian punters choose offshore sites, exposing them to unscrupulous providers. Macau, the gambling capital of the world, is the exception and Hong Kong is less strict than the rest of China. Europe - Europe and the UK are the forerunners with regulated online gambling and many countries on the continent offer safe gambling for their citizens. The UK government launched a gambling act reform in 2020 to update their policies, paying specific attention to player protection policies. Many of the European Member States have their own regulatory bodies like The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and others. Middle East - The dominant religion in the area is Islam, which forbids gambling and, therefore, regulated casinos are not available here. Israel is working on legislation and should they be successful, it may be possible for Israeli punters to enjoy a safe flutter. North America - Throughout the past two years, a few US states opened regulated gambling markets, with sports betting being the focus. Gradually more are coming on board and adding casino licences. Canada also does regional licensing, so some areas have regulated options and others allow their players to use offshore providers. South America - Online gambling is available in most parts of South America, but only Peru and Argentina offer locally licensed platforms. Venezuela and Brazil have anti-gambling laws, but the rest of the continent’s players can make use of offshore licensed casinos. Oceania - Gambling is an extremely popular pastime in Australia and New Zealand. It is prohibited to offer online gambling to Aussies and Kiwis, but countless providers from offshore regions offer services here. Players must take care to choose regulated sites for their own safety. Scandinavia - Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark offer online gambling regulations and punters can enjoy safe wagering through their respective authorities. Svenska Spel, the Swedish state-owned company, recently implemented blanket deposit limits to curb gambling harm. Safer Gambling Tools Responsible gambling tools are requirements by legislators and if platform providers don’t comply, they may lose their licence to offer gambling services in the region. These operational protocols should aim at Prevention and Intervention, Education, Treatment and Support. The latter mostly falls on the government’s side of the fence and platforms focus on the first two. Independent organisations such as GamCare and BeGambleAware provide guidance and support for players and providers. Prevention becomes tangible practice through regulations like limiting exposure through gambling advertisements and marketing material. This is important not only for at-risk gamblers but also for children. Marketing material may not display claims to encourage problem gambling, like paying debt with gambling, nor should it make promises of gains. Sign-up processes must be ironclad in preventing underage gambling. Therefore, the platforms need to identify their players adequately. Platforms offer players the chance to set limits on their profiles. These help punters to stay in touch with how much time and money they spend while gambling. Most regulators ban credit gambling or betting with borrowed money. Providers utilise data programming and AI technology to recognise problematic patterns, and this is where the next step becomes imperative. Intervention is necessary when individuals show signs of at-risk gambling and providers have dedicated and trained teams to deal with these situations. Here, players will have the option to take the help before the problem gets out of hand and make use of other tools at their disposal, like taking a break for a while. The gambling community works together to educate punters on signs of gambling addiction. This comes as banners on sites, messages while playing, campaigns that include widely published marketing material, and research to improve it all. Transparency is key to successful player protection. Therefore, operators need to make their terms crystal clear and offer them in the region’s dominant languages. If gambling harm already exists, government bodies, regulators and NGOs provide players and affected parties with various channels for treatment and support to overcome gambling addiction. Be the Master of Your Gambling Universe At the end of the day, the initiatives and best intentions of providers and governments are wasted if players don’t make the right choice. Gambling addiction is not a myth, nor are the risks of problem gambling. So, what can you do to protect yourself and those around you from gambling harm? ✓ 1. Plan and Stick to a Budget Knowing what your financial abilities are is key to managing your wagers well. Only bet what you can lose and don’t neglect the budget you set for yourself, regardless of how much you win. Walking away as a winner means withdrawing your prize and utilising it elsewhere. ✓ 2. Use Limit Tools from Providers Once you know what your budget is, set your limits accordingly. The devils in the detail, so specify daily, weekly, and monthly limits. Time limits are important as well. Enjoying a flutter here and there is great, but it should not take away from other quality time that enriches your life. Set a time limit for each session and stick to it. ✓ 3. Ask for Help All regulated regions have hotlines that their citizens can call to find help. If you worry that your gambling is on a slippery slope or know of someone who needs help, reach out to organisations such as GamStop. Here, you will find people geared to listen and help with experience in the field. Improve Together As industry leaders work to improve player protection protocols and find innovative ways to educate players on their choices, the online gambling world becomes more fun. The more aware we become of where legislation and behaviours can improve, the faster we can break down myths and stigmas that surround gambling addiction.
  6. Reflection is key to gratitude, and hindsight sometimes generates powerful realisations and inspires innovative change. Let’s take stock of what technology and the brilliant developers in the igaming industry have given us since remote gambling first became available. Modern punters probably take most of these innovations for granted, but the truth is the past two decades have brought about massive changes for online gambling. Gambling anywhere you find yourself is a very recent development and the level of entertainment available has improved unthinkably since the 90s. Basic features like 3D graphics, animated characters, streaming, and many others are the norm in 2022, so let’s look at 8 advancements developers brought to the table since the inception of online gambling. ✓ 1. Innovations for Slot Mechanics Video slots are by far the most popular choice for online gamblers and, thanks to the popularity of these games, software providers invest intensely in their innovations. The first feature is so common today that it is virtually unthinkable that it wasn’t always there. Free Spins, and other bonus features for that matter, were not always part of online slots. Original video slots were like one-arm-bandits where punters simply clicked spin and hoped for a line win. This feature shows how far technology has brought us. From slots that have 1 line for a winning combination to Megaways that offer over 117,000 ways to win. This slot mechanic broke the mould and Big Time Gaming’s innovation ensured that the industry will never be the same again. Countless brands have since signed agreements with BTG to incorporate this popular concept into their video slots. The Megaways structure opened developers’ minds to what might be possible and this gave rise to plenty more payline innovations. Thinking outside the paylines, developers soon introduced a Cluster Pay system, where lines no longer mattered. As long as matching symbols land next to each other in cluster formations, it awards a win. This feature led to other interesting developments, like uniquely shaped slot grids. Mega Clusters are the amped-up version of cluster pays presented by BTG and combine cluster pays with split symbols. InfiniReels mechanics only recently arrived on the scene when NetEnt did what most only dreamed of. The brilliant design team developed a mechanic with infinite payways and the rules are rather straightforward. Every win generates a new reel to the right of the grid and this continues for an unlimited win sequence. ReelPlay has the same mechanic, called Infinity Reels. Yggdrasil is another team of genius developers and they brought us massive icons to spice up the reels. Gigablox can drop in sizes of 2x2, 3x3, 4x4, and humongous 6x6, taking up most of the slot grid. These symbols make winning combinations more lucrative, and other developers have since unveiled their own versions. Yggdrasil also presented Splitz where one symbol splits in two for more winning potential. With providers feeding off each other’s innovative ideas, we can go on with this list for a while, but it’s clear that slots are better than ever and players can spin their hearts out. ✓ 2. Progressive Jackpots Something the internet does for us which we may take for granted is that it brings a level of connectedness that never existed. Linking the great big world like never before brought on the wonderful thing that gamblers love, called Progressive Jackpots. These eye-watering, life-changing prizes comprise the tally of wagers in a selected game throughout the provider’s network. The progressive nature of these pots means that the prize increases with each bet placed on that game. These are not just limited to online slots and some exciting card and table games incorporate it too. The favourites include Mega Moolah, the Microgaming hit slot, Roulette Royale, and Caribbean Stud Poker. ✓ 3. Live Dealer Games Another hint that we are indeed living in the golden age of online gambling is the fact that we no longer need to visit a land-based casino to experience the thrill of human interaction. Thanks to incredible internet speed and innovative providers, we can enjoy live dealer games streamed from casino studios. Evolution Gaming is a forerunner in the Live Dealer sphere of online gambling and their games are tremendously popular. Interact with the croupier as they spin the roulette wheel, deal your hopeful 21, or flip the cards to reveal your Hold’em fate. Presenters dressed in colourful and themed attire spin the wheel of fortune for you, and punters have online social spaces to interact with peers. Live dealer technology literally brings the casino to you and they fill casino libraries with interesting takes on traditional games as developers ensure their content is unique and exciting. ✓ 4. Tournaments and Multiplayer Games If you feel you are ready to take your igaming to the next level, tournaments and multiplayer games should be on your list. Play with and against gamblers from all over the world in the best kind of social experience you will find in remote gambling. As mentioned, with live dealer games, you have the option of interacting with other players by chatting with them, but tournaments bring a more competitive edge to the table. Casino Races is one form of a tournament where players opt-in to take part in free point-based competitions. These usually run for a set time and at the end of the race, the players with the most points win cash prizes. Games included in these tournaments are usually a collection of slots and table games. Most online casinos offer blackjack and poker tournaments to seasoned players and these winner-takes-all competitions can get really exciting. ✓ 5. Mobile Gambling and Omni-Channel Gradually mobile phones became an appendix we never knew we needed but now can’t be without. The onset of HTML5 technology combined with fast internet made it possible for developers to adapt website interfaces to work seamlessly on mobile devices. Software providers then introduced omnichannel technology that allows players to move between devices on a single user profile, which is partially the reason for the mobile gambling industry boom. Mobile gambling is now the most popular way to wager, and it is strange to think that a while ago, we needed individual profiles for each device we played on. Smartphone technology allows punters to enjoy the immersive experience of live casinos, as some devices have better processors than computers, and the development of mobile gambling has made games of chance accessible to everyone. One more advantage of mobile gambling is the security it offers with payment apps that link directly to the casino and cut out the need for you to link banking details. All around, mobile technology is a massive game-changer for gambling. ✓ 6. VR Technology One of the most exciting advances in gaming is Virtual Reality and, with the looks of it, we have seen nothing yet when it comes to virtual entertainment. VR games transport players to worlds beyond our imagination and certain games will allow you to recreate yourself as an avatar. Enjoy the company of other players who take part with their virtual version of themselves and forget all about the world around you for a while. Evolution gaming incorporated this technology into one of their live games, Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt. This live game allows players to switch to VR mode, using a headset and controller, and experience the most immersive treasure hunt with the Spanish conquistador everyone loves. ✓ 7. Cryptocurrency The unprecedented growth in the online gambling sector makes it an obvious target for chancers. Electronic transactions fill the money web while players and platforms need to find the most trustworthy manner of operating the process. Although many fiat currency processes exist that are highly secure and most punters use them, the undeniable security offered by blockchain has opened the industry’s mind to cryptocurrency. Online casinos like 7Bit Casino focus solely on Bitcoin and offer remote gambling in cryptocurrency, and many top platforms encourage and reward punters for using crypto as their wagering currency of choice. Advantages include guaranteed anonymity, ease of access, and super-fast processing. Cryptocurrency is not the easiest to come by and, for this reason, many avoid it. It is also a seriously volatile currency, and this is probably why many people still think it is too risky. ✓ 8. Provably Fair Blockchain Gambling Apart from the security blockchain technology provides with payments in cryptocurrency, the node-driven tech presents a list of other advantages for igaming. A concern that some punters have is that the casino may cheat them by rigging the game software. Although it is highly unlikely for random number generator games to be rigged, provably fair blockchain technology is a lot more secure. Some Bitcoin casinos now offer players the opportunity to verify the fairness of each round of the game if they want to. Because of the nature of blockchain technology, it is immutable, in other words unchangeable, and this grants unmatched transparency with the game’s randomness. If a casino has games built on blockchain, players will have the peace of mind that it is designed to be provably fair and they can check the data should they wish to.
  7. Being a gambling enthusiast doesn’t have to mean spending all of your time at a casino – whether online or land-based. Even professional sports players don’t spend all their time on the field or in the gym, right? If you want to find a balance between still living your best gambling life and staying close to the games you love, keep reading. Punters from around the world have plenty of creative ways to show off their favourite pastime, and if you are a fan, these ideas will work perfectly for you. Kick It with Online Streamers Being a spectator while you take a break from placing bets yourself is one way to stay connected. Casino streamers became all the rage in the last year, and sites like Twitch and YouTube Live host millions of live streamers who cover an array of topics. Twitch is by far the most popular choice for gambling live streams, though, and they have well over 100 channels devoted to this topic. You can expect to see a live feed of the game the streamer is playing as well as a video stream of the player - if they’re not playing from a land-based casino. Because these live recordings are of real money gambling, which is an age-restricted topic, the streams are only intended for viewers of legal age. The advantage of tuning in to a live stream of a popular casino streamer is that you get to enjoy the thrill of casino games, most often slots, but you don’t spend a cent and you can chat to your fellow viewers. One of the most popular Twitch streamers is Trainwreckstv. Tyler Faraz Niknam has 1.7 million followers on his Twitch channel, and the streamer plays various casino games while preferring slot games. Streamers like AdinRoss take a different approach and stream with a bunch of friends. They stay online for hours and incorporate other entertaining feeds into their videos. With a mind-blowing 5.4 million following, they rake in close to a million views on a session. CasinoDaddy streams every day and plays high roller games, including poker. Roshtein is very popular on Twitch as well with 830K followers and Teceno is a good choice for esports betting fans. Get Inked with Gambling Symbols Serious gamblers have often turned to a permanent trophy they can always have with them. The popularity of tattoos increased tremendously in the 21st century, and the stigma attached to getting inked slowly became something of the past. Today, it is an art and tattoo artists with tremendous talent create masterpieces for enthusiasts. Punters no longer need to page through a booklet of pictures and pick their favourite image. Modern tattoo artists can envision the inspiration behind your tattoo and create something truly unique to you. Some of the most popular gambling tattoo images include playing cards and most refer to luck in some form. The Vegas, Nevada, sign is a very popular choice to incorporate into your art, as well as casino chips and whiskey on ice. The ace of spades card is a good option and blackjack as well. Some of the most famous gamblers have tattoos that incorporate all aspects of gambling, making it a stunning collage of casino images. A hand that holds a royal flush, rolling dice, and money often make it into the design and they can easily incorporate lucky numbers to make it as personal as possible. With the right tattoo artist, you can get a piece that is incredibly personal and may even be your own personal lucky charm. Dress in Gambling Apparel The love for gambling is nothing new and a couple of designers have used it as the inspiration behind their labels. Lucky7 is one such brand and the iconic logo of the brand incorporates the luckiest number. You can’t help but feel lucky dressed in this men’s brand available in Quebec. A brand with a similar name called Lucky Brand, founded in Los Angeles, gives you the chance to dress in luck from head to toe. Other brands may not scream gambling, but a name like Ed Hardy is a quintessential rock label and his designs incorporate some symbols well known in gambling. Wearing a Don Ed Hardy creation may not be everyone’s style and you will definitely stand out from the crowd, but his recognisable work with its skulls and tigers will tick all the boxes for punk punters. Rhinestone finishes and contemplative phrases make his clothes an exciting choice for gamblers. If you are looking for something unique, you can design a custom image or download free templates of gambling images and have them printed on clothing. Some websites offer a range of images to choose from and a variety of shirts or hoodies to print on. These include cute phrases and iconic images to show off your love for gambling. Textiles with unique gambling prints on them are available online as well and with these, you could make outfits according to your liking. Hollywood and Casino Life Gambling is such a big part of society that it must be part of filmmaking. Movies allow us to travel from this world to one where anything is possible. Casino inspired Hollywood titles are a great way to enjoy the wagering life while placing nothing on the line. ✓ Rounders (1998) Matt Damon takes the lead in this classic gambling flick. The young Mike McDermott (Damon), a gifted poker player, is a reformed gambler that faces a tough call when an old friend knocks on his door. Lester Murphy, portrayed by Edward Norton, lures Mike back into the game and before long he is tangled in a KGB mob drama where he must face his nemesis Teddy, played by John Malkovich. This gambling drama is one of those must-watch 90s movies. ✓ 21 (2008) If you are a blackjack enthusiast, you may have heard of the MIT club of students who trained to become card-counters and subsequently cleared out Vegas casinos. 21 is the movie based on facts of the MIT crew and this release has Kevin Spacey as the team’s coach. Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Aaron Yoo, Liza Lapira play the team of students, and Laurence Fishburne portrays a ruthless casino boss. This drama-thriller is the dramatised version of the story and makes for superb entertainment while teaching us about a piece of gambling history. ✓ Ocean’s Eleven (2001) Possibly one of the most popular Hollywood films in the casino genre, this star-studded movie was released at the beginning of the millennium. Since then, Danny Ocean and his 10 accomplices became synonymous with epic heists, and we can’t imagine a movie where Brad Pitt and George Clooney are in that does not include Julia Roberts. Matt Damon shows up once again in a casino film and Andy Garcia helps with a well-rounded cast. The team plans to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously and the crime thriller will capture you from the first scene. ✓ Casino Royale (2006) A James Bond (Daniel Craig) fan favourite, this 007 film plays out when Bond first received his 00 status, and his mission is to beat a private banker to terrorists at a game of poker. The venue for this extremely high-stake game is Casino Royale, Montenegro. The villain, Le Chiffre, must win the game to maintain his status within the terrorist market. M sends Bond and Vesper to prevent this at all costs. A classic within the spy-film world, this is a must-watch for any gambler. Listen to Casino and Gambling Inspired Music One of the best ways to unwind is by listening to music. Creating a playlist with songs inspired by gambling is easier than ever with streaming sites that have music from all corners of the world, dating back to when music was first released on public platforms. Here are five gambling songs to get you started. ✓ Lilly, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts by Bob Dylan Some may argue that this is about more than gambling, but the theme that will resonate with gamblers is one of chance and fate. It includes a haunting murder plot involving a game of cards and a love quartet. Seems like Bob Dylan created the perfect dramatic song to suit the highs and lows of gambling. ✓ Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Perhaps this song is the reason Elvis has the honour of officiating marriages in Sin City. One thing is clear, though. The king of rock and roll certainly captured the glamour of Las Vegas in this song and if you want a different take on it, try Bruce Springsteen’s cover of it. ✓ The Gambler by Kenny Rogers A gambling playlist would be incomplete without this one. An absolute classic for the moral value late Kenny Rogers put into this song, it is a must for any punter. Naturally, it has a country tinge to it, but whether or not you enjoy that type of music, you may learn a thing or two from the lyrics. ✓ Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen One of his many hits, this is a bit of a sombre one from The Boss, but he tells a story many could identify with. Atlantic City is a well-known gambling hub, and the lyrics are about a man who struggles to make ends meet and he is going to take his chances there. ✓ Ace of Spades by Motörhead The rock and roll legends wrote a song about the most important card in the deck. Perhaps that has something to do with the enormous hit this song became, but it is one of the most famous gambling songs of all time. The lyrics are all about card gambling and it is a must for any punter’s feel-good playlist. Take a Breather The above methods are all good fun when you want to soak up what gambling offers without taking part in games of chance and staking your money. However, take a breather from gambling now and then to clear your head. Returning to the slots or tables with renewed vigour will help you think clearly and place bets responsibly.
  8. With gambling success stories, many tend to believe that luck has a lot to do with the win. We all know that casino games usually stack odds against the gambler and the house mainly wins. For this reason, countless punters believe that charms may add to their fortune and, with some games, players can use all the luck they can get. Certain gambling games require a level of skill to win, but even these skilled punters have superstitions and carry talismans for added luck. Others may even have a ritual they perform before playing their game of choice. Let’s take a look at the interesting lucky charms people believe in around the globe and explore where some of these amulets originated. Some are well-known beliefs while others have questionable roots, but some believe these charms to bring fortune to the wearer. ✓ American Charms Thanks to the media, American traditions seem to be some of the most well-known ideologies in the world. This rings true for superstitions and good luck charms as well. One of the most popular amulets is the horseshoe. This belief stems from folklore about Saint Dunstan, who struck a deal with the devil and from there on out the horseshoe wards off evil and brings luck. Be sure to position your charm in the right direction though as the u-shape will catch the luck for you if pointed up, but lose it if pointed down. The Rabbits Foot is another well-known lucky charm that America seemed to have put on the map. Its origin is debatable but said to be linked with the European mid-century practice of the ‘hand-of-glory’. As it is not the most upbeat of tales, we suggest you rather focus on the luck of the rabbit’s foot. Not to worry, as you do not need to capture and injure a real bunny. Faux rabbit’s foot charms are available, and you can always have one made in silver or gold. If you want a real one though, be sure it is the left hind foot of a rabbit caught in a cemetery at night. Animals seem to play a big role in the realm of superstitions and one more American folk tale states that alligator teeth are a talisman that will bring the wearer luck and money. It is not surprising that American gamblers wear these odd trophies to ensure big wins then. Alligators have better luck than bunnies though, as their teeth fall out periodically, so gator slaughtering isn’t necessary for these trinkets. Moving toward the more ancient parts of America, Peru has a national symbol represented by an ornate ceremonial axe. It is also a lucky charm in Peruvian culture. The origin of this charm is a little strange though as it used to be a ceremonial axe used to perform religious sacrifices and trepanation. The latter is an ancient Incan surgery performed to remove a piece of the skull. Today, they wear it for fortune and hang it on walls of homes to ward off evil. ✓ European and British Lucky Trinkets Beliefs from the European and British continents seem to be well-known ones too like the four-leaf clover everyone hopes to find. The clover symbol is so well-known as a lucky charm that we can find it in many casino games and although the rare four-leafed version is scarce, clovers have a positive meaning. The inspiration comes from the Christian faith of the Holy Trinity and when there is a fourth leaf; it represents God’s grace. In Britain and certain parts of Europe, they believe an acorn to be the symbol of prosperity, wisdom, fertility, and youth. Legend has it that the Norse god Odin hung himself from an oak tree to get wisdom and from there on, people wear the tiny nut for good fortune. The acorn does not need to be real. Simply pick from a variety of jewellery items made with this symbol. Some European traditions are not that well-known and these two smaller countries have unique amulets they believe will bring luck to the wearer. In Poland, it is a tradition to eat carp for Christmas, but the meal includes some scales from the fish. Superstitious Poles then carry a few of these scales in their wallet for the rest of the year to attract wealth, prosperity, and good luck. Swedes carry a Dala horse which originates from the 18th century. Soldiers would carve these horses out of wood and trade them for food. Since then, it represents luck, perseverance, and good fortune. When it comes to luck, many believe that the key is not just to attract it, but also to ward off evil omens. Nazar Boncugu, aka the Turkish evil-eye bead, is for exactly that reason. The name seems counter-intuitive, but many believe this cobalt blue symbol has the power to ward off curses and ill intentions from other’s staring eyes. People from all over the world place these glass beads on key chains, in their cars, their homes, or wear them as jewellery. It is especially lucky to wear while gambling, as opponents could not block your luck. ✓ African and Middle Eastern Amulets for Luck The very popular Hamsa Hand is now found in most western cultures as a universal sign of protection, but it found its origins in the Middle East and North Africa. It is predominantly a Jewish and Islamic symbol with similar meanings in the religions. Also known as Hamesh, Chamsa, or Khamsa, this charm is a hand with five fingers, but the two outside fingers are often symmetrical thumbs. Linked with the meaning of the number five, it wards off evil and brings the wearer happiness, luck, health, and good fortune. Ancient Egypt had a language made up of symbols, so it is easy to find meaning within the cultural signs, but some symbols carry significant weight. All Egyptians wore the Scarab Beetle to protect them and guide them, even in the afterlife. Punters will recognise the symbol, as many slot games have Egyptian inspiration and the beetle is present, more often than not. In Ghana, West Africa, the age-old tradition of Adinkra symbols originates and the Ghanaian people have a symbol for almost everything. They create their beautiful textiles with these symbols printed on them and wear traditional clothes made from them. Wrap yourself in cloth covered with Mmusuyidee to remove bad luck and attract good fortune. It is not uncommon for these traditional prints to show up in high-end fashion collections, so you might even find a scarf or purse to carry along when you place your bets. ✓ Eastern Money Charms In the East, they usually ordain their homes and businesses with gold and red ornaments and symbols, and in Chinese culture, one will find the luckiest charms of all. Laughing Buddha, also known as ‘Hotai’ or ‘Pu-Tai’, is a figurine of Buddhist origin. A version of this chubby figurine holds a pot of gold or gold nugget, and this represents prosperity and wealth, befitting for gambling luck. Best you rub the smiling figurine’s belly so that his luck can rub off on you. Don’t worry, there is no need to carry a statue into the casino. Because he is such a popular charm, laughing Buddha is available in many sizes and in a keyring shape to travel with you. A Chinese money frog, often found at the entrance of a business or Chinese family home, known as Jin Chan is a three-legged gold bullfrog. He has red eyes, a coin in his mouth, and sitting on a pile of traditional Chinese coins. Chinese folklore tells how the golden toad appears near homes or businesses during a full moon to announce the coming of good fortune and wealth. Be sure to place it in the correct direction, as the frog must face inward to bring money. According to tradition, if it faces outward, the money will flow away from you. The colour red is the national colour of China and represents happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success, and good fortune. Most Chinese charms and symbols display this colour, and it is a tradition that children receive a red envelope filled with Chinese coins for New Year to bring fortune. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure added luck when placing your stake. Wear something red for added fortune to beat the odds. Maneki Neko is a Japanese talisman known as the beckoning cat. This figurine comes in different colours and always has one front paw waving. Depending on which paw is up and what colour the cat is, the owner will experience different fortunes. It dates to the 17th century and often one will see it at the entrance of Japanese or Chinese businesses. Some of these charms are available with a mechanical paw that waves at you and others come in luxury materials like jade or precious metals. Look for a Maneki Neko that has a coin in its paw and a koi fish, as this charm will bring fortune and wealth. With a raised right paw, it attracts good luck and wealth. This is the feline to accompany you to a gambling outing. ✓ No Charms? Here are Other Tricks for Luck Seasoned gamblers have their charms of choice, although some choose not to carry a trinket for luck. You may wonder what you can do if you don’t have any of the above talismans, and the following tricks will help. Carrying a momento that is sacred to your family is an age-old manner to carry luck around. Many successful gamblers wear an item of clothing they wore when they first won big, so dig out those lucky socks before you place your bets. Craps players sometimes set up their dice with certain numbers facing up and others blow on the dice for luck to transfer on the die. Astrology followers can visit their gambling horoscope to see whether the planets align for their big win to roll in. Finally, you can always bet on 7, the luckiest number, or in increments of it. ✓ Feeling Lucky? At the end of the day, all forms of gambling come down to odds and in some games the numbers are great, but in others not so much. Whether you knock on wood or cross your fingers, the fact remains that the house always wins. Carrying charms should add to the fun of the game and applying wisdom and limits to your betting ensures that the fun doesn’t transform into a negative experience.
  9. Most dream about striking it lucky and walking away with the jackpot. Others argue that a successful gambler understands how luck has very little to do with becoming a wealthy punter. So what do the wealthy and famous gamblers have in common, and how did they get to the top? As it is only a handful of people that make it to a level of astonishing wealth through gambling, there has to be a secret. With seven being the industry’s lucky number, we take a look at the top 7 richest gamblers of all time and what they did to get the title and wealth. A hint we can give is that being skilled at numbers has a lot to do with it. ✓ Tony Bloom Anthony (Tony) Bloom hails from the United Kingdom and he carries the nickname ‘The Lizard’. Worth approximately $1.7 billion, he owns a Premier League team and is a professional sports bettor, poker player, and owner of Starlizard, the UK’s largest betting consultancy. Add to his resume that he is the chair for Brighton & Hove Albion football club, and it becomes hard to imagine what this gambling superstar does not do. Bloom’s love for going against odds started as a teen, where he crossed some lines with an illegal ID, but he studied mathematics at the University of Manchester. He worked as an accountant and then as a trader before he became a professional poker player. Since then, he took part in 11 WSOP tournaments, made it to the finals and they report he collected $1.5 million in winnings by 2008. Known as a ‘cold-blooded killer at the poker table’, peers gave him his nickname. Bloom moved into sports betting and owns a few horses as well, which have given him very successful runs. Although Tony Bloom’s wealth comes from various sources, his gambling career gave him a head start and he once stated himself that he believes poker gives a person a good grounding for many things in life. Like how to observe a situation well and read people. ✓ Bill Benter This professional gambler is one of the most famous punters because of how he gambles and how much he has made thanks to his system. Reports say that William “Bill” Benter is worth $1 billion, and he started his gambling career at blackjack tables in Sin City. Benter always believed there must be a way to crack the code concerning the casino’s advantage and with his brilliant maths aptitude, he attempted Edward O. Thorp’s card counting strategy. After 7 years of winning some money, getting banned from Vegas casinos, and realising it is not as lucrative as he had hoped, Benter moved on to greener pastures. Horse racing became his new focus area, and he was hell-bent on making educated investments rather than gambling against odds. The mathematical genius teamed up with Alan Woods and they created a formula for predicting the outcome of horse races. Estimates are that Bill Benter can make around $5M to $10M on a single race day, thanks to his gambling software. Bill has a physics degree and, apart from being known for his brilliant gambling strategy, he is also a generous man known for philanthropy and supporting political groups. ✓ Edward O. Thorp It is little wonder that Edward Oakley Thorp is one of the most famous gamblers in history, as he got a PhD in mathematics and applied his genius to betting odds. The ‘Father of Card-Counting’ invented a formula most people have heard of while he was a university professor. They estimated his current worth at $800 million and naturally, his favourite game is blackjack, but Thorp also enjoys roulette, baccarat, and backgammon. Edward O. Thorp wrote the first book on card counting, called ‘Beat the Dealer’. Here he explained how to tilt the house edge in your favour by tracking the ratio of high and low cards. Together with Claude Shannon, he invented the first wearable computer to take into casinos with his formulas for beating roulette and blackjack. They have since banned these, but the formula remains one of the favourite blackjack strategies. Thorp moved into financial markets and became a hedge fund manager, which is his principal source of income today, but he still loves his game of 21. Edward is one of the original 7 gamblers to be honoured in the Blackjack Hall of Fame. ✓ Andrew Black The co-founder of the first bet exchange, Betfair, Andrew Black, has many streams of income but is one of the wealthiest gamblers of all time. As a sports bettor by heart, he owns a few horses, but it is his gambling business that is his mainstream income. He has an estimated net worth of $500 million and the software he developed for making money on bets changed the gambling industry. He originally worked in derivatives, but as his success in gambling increased, he set his sights on bigger things. Black is also an avid bridge player and his love of this game opened the door for Betfair. One of his favourite opponents in this game was Edward Wray, and this is where he presented his software design for a money-making betting business. Wray was all in and the two launched Betfair at the beginning of the Millenium. Since 2000, the sportsbook gained tremendous momentum, made it to the London Stock Exchange in 2010, and became one of the largest in the world. ✓ Alan Woods He became a legendary Australian horse bettor and his estimated net worth is AUD670 million ($470 million) but the late Alan Woods wasn’t always on the up. In his family home, he grew up playing bridge and despite his mathematical brilliance, the University of New England expelled him for poor performance and lack of attendance. He started gambling during his university attendance, but it wasn’t until later that he discovered his blackjack skill and knack for picking the right nag. Woods carried the nickname of ‘The Playboy Punter’ and after a failed marriage, he became a full-time gambler. This decision led him to Hong Kong and there he and Bill Benter discovered their formula for horse betting. Alan Woods went on to become a sports betting tycoon and created his betting network. The punter never left his apartment to place bets, as he had a team of bettors all over the world who bet on his behalf using his formula. He continued to live a life of luxury and did so from his home in Manila with all ‘The Girls’, a Philippine version of the Playboy Mansion. ✓ Zeljko Ranogajec Zeljko Ranogajec is one of the most elusive gamblers and keeps a low profile, but in the gambling world, he bears the nickname of ‘The Joker’. He holds a record for winning the biggest keno prize worth $7,5 million, but we know him as a blackjack and sports betting enthusiast. Experts believe that Ranogajec’s net worth is around AUD610 million ($430 million) but they also speculate that his gambling turnover can be well over $1 billion annually. The Joker studied at the University of Tasmania and was born in Australia, although his parents are of Croatian origin. He dropped out of university to become a professional gambler. However, he still holds a day job despite his wealth and successful gambling. Ranogajec had the same fate as Bill Benter as casinos banned him due to card counting and so he moved his focus to the sports betting scene. A strategy that Ranogajec admits to using is favourable discounts and rebates, a tactic that allowed him to buy an apartment in the most expensive development in the world. One of his betting partners and university friends, David Walsh, had an enormous influence on his betting strategies. ✓ David Walsh From humble beginnings at the Australian University in Hobart and a well-known friend and gambling partner of Zeljko Ranogajec, David Walsh is a fascinating punter with a different take on betting. With an estimated net worth of $200 million, he utilises the wisdom of crowds and says talent has very little to do with his success. Walsh is also a mathematician, and he believes that when considering formulas designed to predict bets, one should incorporate psychology concepts too. Nicknamed the Tasmanian Devil, Walsh partnered with Zeljko Ranogajec and set up a gambling company called Bank Roll. Through this, they both turned a fortune and had others doing their betting work for them, utilising their formulas and strategies. Some things this eccentric gambler did with his millions included opening the Mona museum, which he refers to as ‘adult Disneyland’ and transferring visitors to this venue in camouflaged ferries. In contrast to his betting partner, Walsh is very open about his gambling and life and makes a habit of sharing his wisdom. ✓ Honourable Mention: Don Johnson Although Don Johnson did not reach the levels of the aforementioned seven punters, he did make waves in the betting community for his approach. We think he deserves a spot on this list because would-be professional punters can learn from the man who broke Atlantic City. Johnson made a small fortune in a very short period in blackjack and he did this without counting cards! During 2011 and 2012, the clever businessman used his negotiating skills and persuaded the pit boss to apply the blackjack rule of lower house advantage and a loss rebate. In his winning streak, Johnson banked $15 million thanks to what we now know as a ‘positive expectation bet’.
  10. If you are looking for a new hobby and online gambling is the option, here are a few pointers to make it an enjoyable experience every time. For seasoned gamblers, these may be obvious, and the wisdom may have come with expensive lessons, but even experienced punters forget the basics. With land-based casinos closed for long stretches over the last two years, many countries finally saw the importance of a regulated online gambling market as their citizens turned to igaming. Now that we see many new regulated markets and platform providers popping up from everywhere, it is more important than ever to keep your head cool when taking part in remote betting activities. Especially if you are new at this. Online casinos offer bonus deals to attract players to their platform and developers do their best to make their games stand out. With all the flashing lights and “Free” banners popping up, would-be punters as well as experienced gamblers can easily get carried away. So, before you get caught up in the moment, implement these 5 steps to ensure a relaxing and entertaining online gambling time. ✓ 1. Do Your Homework We get it. If reading was your thing, you would curl up on a sofa and get lost in your favourite book. The thing with reading casino and game reviews, though, is that it saves you a lot of time and unnecessary frustration. How so? Experienced players do the grunt work for you by checking all the important facts to consider when picking your gambling platform and which games you will wager your money on. If you pick a reputable source, you can rest assured that the casinos they write about and suggest to their visitors have the correct licenses in place. It is very important to only gamble at online casinos that are regulated within your country, as this ensures your right to recourse if you are dissatisfied with the service you received. On top of that, licensed and regulated platform providers need to adhere to strict gambling laws to maintain their licensed status within their respective jurisdictions. This ensures that players’ safety is a top priority to the casino and their staff. A good review will include factors such as payment solutions, available currencies, available languages for customers, and the level of customer service provided. With online casinos, punters need to know how long they will wait for their withdrawal as well. Most good review sites will include details on bonus deals from all the leading licensed operators, but always be sure to read the terms and conditions for yourself, to ensure you understand them. Review sites will help you choose the best game for your preferences too. With the multitude of slot games available, rather read a couple of reviews and play demos, if available, before you place your first bet. The important statistics will be on the review as well as the theme and rules. Should slots not interest you, all other casino games will have reviews too. Where your hard-earned money is involved, it is always better to have a good understanding of the game rules. ✓ 2. Manage Your Most Precious Resources: Money and Time Cash-flow mismanagement is the quickest way to get yourself into trouble with gambling and bring an abrupt end to the fun. The habit of setting a monthly and a session budget should be part of your gambling strategy to ensure that you don’t overestimate your betting allowance. Always make sure that you stick to what your budget allows and never overspend. Breaking this rule, even once, is a slippery slope to problematic gambling habits. Another golden rule of money management for gambling is to never wager with borrowed money. Some you win, some you lose. Take this to heart and walk away from your losses. Borrowing money to place a ‘sure bet’ or to cover your losses is a certain trap and one that you should avoid at all costs. Money is not the only precious commodity you own. The mentioned budgets should go further than currency to include how much time you spend on gambling. Time management is just as important, if not more so, and knowing when to stop even if you must ‘end on a high’ or walk away from a big loss will set you up for success in the long run. This, in turn, creates a winning mindset, which is a key component in every successful punter’s arsenal. Make sure that your time spent gambling fits in with your daily schedule and does not take away from other priorities, such as family time, work, etc. If you find it challenging to stick within the budget(s) you set for yourself, consider talking to someone about these challenges. Impulsive gambling can lead to detrimental consequences. ✓ 3. Make Use of Deposit and Time Limits The third point ties in with our discussion above and will make it so much easier to manage your bankroll. Online casinos and gambling regulators created this tool to help punters stick within their means and budgets. This is a great tool that promotes responsible gambling and helps you live to wager another day. Utilising the deposit limit application takes one more thing off your mind, as you only need to focus on the game and your betting strategy. Most veteran gamblers have learnt that it is too easy to give in to temptation and make that extra deposit in the hopes that the tides will turn or that the table is about to turn hot. In the heat of the moment, you may believe that the next spin or hand will bring your fortune but sticking to your budget is a skill to hone and setting a deposit limit helps you do exactly that. Regulators require online casinos to offer punters the deposit limit tool and, in most instances, you can limit yourself in different forms. Daily, weekly, and monthly limits will make it easy to structure your budget. ✓ 4. Check the RTP and Variance RTP, the acronym for Return to Player, refers to the amount the game pays back to the player over thousands of spins. They normally display this value in percentages. For example, if a slot has an RTP of 95%, it will give back 95c for every €1 spent. Essentially, this statistic communicates how much you can expect to lose. The % difference is the house’s edge, which translates to the percentage of player bets retained by the game in the long run. Although it is a theoretical amount, the fact remains that the house always wins. Some games have better return values and lower house edge and naturally, these should be the ones you play. The accepted average RTP for online slot games is around 95.5% but some slots can go as low as 85% as certain regulators allow for it. Finding out what the game’s RTP is will empower you to make better game choices for greater winning potential. Slot games have one more vital element to consider and that is the payout variance, also referred to as the game’s volatility. They rate it from low to high and it has a tremendous impact on how you should manage your bankroll. A low variance game will pay out often, but the returns are usually small. High variance games have erratic payout structures and spinners can experience dry spells and sudden big wins. These games are popular for the big wins but understand that they can stretch your bankroll with wins awarded seldom. ✓ 5. Ignoring Betting Lines on Games Understanding the mechanics of the game you are playing is key to the success of any prospective punter. Betting lines, also known as paylines, are a line-up of specific symbols on which they will reward a payout. Traditional slot machines used to have only one betting line running through the middle of the reels, but most modern slot games can have anything from five to hundreds of paylines with winning combinations in all types of patterns. Some video slot developers allow the player to decide how many lines they want to bet on before the spin and more lines mean more winning opportunities. Most of these slot games have a set number of lines you would need to bet on, so adjust your bet amount accordingly. Usually, there are two different bet settings. One for the currency you bet on and one for how many coins you will use per spin. This mechanic may confuse punters and others may just ignore the fact, but this can push your bet up without you realising it. If you find that your total bet displayed on the game’s dashboard is more than the bet amount you entered, chances are the structure of ‘bet per line’ is in place. These details are available in the paytable menu or the game rules, another point that many punters forget to explore before spinning away. Here you will see what individual symbols will reward you and how many need to match for a pay-out. The payline structure will explain how stakes apply and wins are split. If your bet amount is split between lines, they calculate your payout according to line wager. For example, a €3 bet on a 30-line slot means you are only betting 10c per line and would pay out relative to this. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. So always check the mechanics of the game before playing and find a game best suited for your betting style. When the Fun Stops, So Should You Having fun while gambling is about staying in control of the situation. Incorporating the above steps can help gamblers to focus on the entertainment factor while practising responsible gambling habits. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our recommended and reviewed GamblersPick online casinos.
  11. We know that the online casino industry has many misconceptions that are attached to it. Whether or not these myths are a reality make all the difference to just how safe or rewarding playing casino games can be. The world of online gambling, casino games, and even land-based casinos has come a long way since its conception. As gambling regulations are established and laws become more stringent, it’s easy to see that many concerns about casinos are nothing by but a myth. Let’s take a look at the most popular “myths” and debunk them to put your mind at ease. Myth #1 – All Casino Games are Rigged While it may be frustrating when a losing streak drains your bankroll, it doesn’t mean that online casino games are rigged. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. With regulators such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gambling Authority keeping a keen eye on how casinos and software providers operate, games are tested on a regular basis. Third-party companies have been created to ensure that casino games are fair and payout as they should. No more or no less than they have been designed to do. You can rest assured that all of the online casino games you play by trusted software providers at licensed online casinos are safe and fair. Myth #2 – Past Results Can Predict Future Wins Unfortunately, no matter how many times you’ve won while playing blackjack or roulette, casino games are based on pure luck. Yes, while certain casino games may take some skill to get the most out of a bet or hand you’re played, only Lady Luck can truly determine who wins or loses. In games such as roulette, where the random outcome of the ball is what determines the winner, this couldn’t be truer. Random results are what make casino games such a gamble – but it’s also what provides a lot of the fun. Myth #3 – Betting Systems are the Key to Winning The online casino industry is filled with betting systems and “experts” who insist that betting systems are the perfect way to make yourself a winner. While certain steps can be taken to get the most out of your bet and make your bankroll last longer, betting systems are no guarantee of landing a win. Depending on the betting system you choose to incorporate into your gaming session, you could end up walking away with a much lighter bankroll instead. Myth #4 – Online Slots Pay Out in a Rhythm While it’s true that all online slots pay out eventually, there’s no way to determine when or how that will happen. If a certain online slot hasn’t paid out in a while, it doesn’t mean that you can force that win by playing it more. When outcomes of a slot are determined by random outcomes, it’s impossible to guess what it will take before a big win lands. Instead, be patient and play responsibly. Myth #5 – Online Casinos Never Pay Winners We can with certainty that this is 100% not true. All trusted, licensed and regulated online casinos are required to pay out winners if they meet the standards set out by the regulator. While there may be some paperwork involved, online casinos worth their salt pay out their winners as quickly as possible. It’s because of this that it’s so important to choose the right online casino. We have a long list of reviewed online casinos that can be trusted but not all casinos are created equally. If you find that an online casino has been blacklisted or has a bad review, steer clear to be safe and keep your money and information safe. Myth #6 – Certain Slots Never Pay Out Jackpots All online slots are created with an RTP percentage. RTP or Return To Player, is the percentage that determines how often an online slots pay outs across its lifetime of spins. This is entirely hypothetical and can range from 92% to 98% depending on how generous the provider is feeling. While this number is hypothetical and cannot truly be tracked, it does give players an idea of what to expect when it comes to winning. A higher RTP means there’s a better chance of winning, but this could be over a long period of time. For instance, if a slot has an RTP of 94%, it should pay out $94 for every $100 bet over the game’s lifetime. Statistically, all online slots are designed to pay out wins. This is what makes them entertaining and rewarding for players who bet. Myth #7 – Online Gambling is Illegal Depending on where you live, this may be true. However, many countries around the world are starting to embrace legal gambling practices and putting regulators in place to keep gambling safe. While this doesn’t mean that online gambling is legal everywhere, the chances of finding legal gambling sites in the country you live are better than ever. If you find yourself in a country where online gambling is legal, make sure that you play at a safe and licensed online casino for the best possible experience. There are many online casinos that offer their services to players in countries where gambling online isn’t legal. This is unsafe and means you’re playing without any protection. Play Safe, Stay Safe The online casino industry is simply a part of the entertainment industry. This means there are rules and regulations that must be met to keep players like you safe. Playing at a safe online casino means you should have a fun and rewarding casino experience and that’s why we want to make sure that you’re always in good hands. Trust our GamblersPick Select casinos for the best experience possible.
  12. The tech world has always been obsessed with the next big thing. Whether that was the advancement of the basic home computer, the release of the first mobile phone, or the chance to step foot on Mars – every day, finding what could be next while on the search for new technology is never a dull experience. While not a new concept, the metaverse is the latest landscape to be conquered and 2021 is the moment that many tech giants have chosen to embrace it. But what does that mean for the online gambling industry? What is the Metaverse? The metaverse is a mimic of real life (or a twin universe) that combines the online world with our own via the use of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and social media. Naturally, cryptocurrencies are an important part of the metaverse as people aim to remain as anonymous as possible when spending money to protect themselves and their cash. 3D avatars, connecting via virtual spaces, gaming in a virtual world where you can interact with your friends face to face while being on the other end of the world – all of this and so much more can be achieved via the metaverse. Or at least, that’s the hope. For many years, the idea of a virtual world much like our own (but better) has intrigued inquisitive minds. In fact, the term “metaverse” was coined by a sci-fi writer named Neal Stephenson in 1992 in his novel, Snow Crash. In the novel, a 3D world was used to interact with avatar versions of human beings as a metaphor for reality. Facebook and Microsoft Embrace the Metaverse Some are calling it the modern space race – who will be the first to conquer the metaverse? Facebook rocked the world when it recently announced that it would be fully embracing the metaverse and cemented the idea by changing the larger company’s name to Meta. Only days later, Microsoft released their plans for a more immersive Teams experience with 3D avatars and meeting spaces. While many are disappointed that the metaverse’s first real implementation will be for work meetings and presentations, it’s only the start. No matter how the technology is used, it’s apparent that creating virtual versions of ourselves and uploading them to a “twin” world of our own has been the aim for many years now. But where did the obsession begin? The Metaverse: Inspired by Sci-fi The concept of using AR and VR in everyday life has long inspired movie creators to make that dream a reality. Minority Report and that infamous scene where Tom Cruise navigates the world around him using a virtual reality ‘map’ is one that has been recreated again and again. Tony Stark uses similar tech to create his Ironman suit in the Avengers movie by creating, conceptualising and eventually sharing his work all via an AR interface. Fans of Ready Player One, the popular novel that became a film in 2018, will recognise living life in a virtual world. Rather than having AR or VR become one with our world, Ready Player One shows what life could be life if we spent all of our time online instead. Finally, one of the largest mobile games in the world, Pokémon GO, lets players experience AR in a fun and easy to use manner. Players can choose to have the Pokémon they’re attempting to catch appear in the room with them, rather than just appearing on screen. While this is all optional, it still makes AR a normal part of life for those who use it daily. The Future of Online Gambling with AR and VR Anyone who’s been in the online gambling industry for even a short amount of time can tell you that the future is always the aim. What’s next on the cards for technology and casino games? Developers want to know where to focus their talents and expertise. Staying one step ahead of the rest of the world is where casino Game developers thrive. Even the metaverse has always been something they’ve seen as the next big thing. For many years now, analysts and experts have said that VR and AR are where the online casino world will blossom. Up until recently, however, it was nothing more than a gimmick. But now that tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft are pouring more and more cash into making the metaverse a real-world reality, the advancements for every other industry will begin to flow. Perhaps it’s been the recent worldwide lockdown and subsequent need for human interaction on a new level, or maybe the world is just ready for the metaverse – but things are advancing much faster than was ever predicted. Many believed that the metaverse would only really become a reality within the next 10 years or more. But instead, it’s here. It’s new but it’s here and the future is bright – for everyone, including online gambling enthusiasts. Play with VR Today Currently, augmented reality is not really on the table for online gambling just yet but VR has been embraced with a cautious hand. SlotsMillion Casino launched the first ever virtual reality casino in 2015. While it’s still functional today, it’s not utilised as players realised that it simply wasn’t sustainable. The futuristic and heavy graphics meant spending hours with VR goggles on and this can cause some users to feel ill. Others simply don’t want to be tied to their computers, instead opting for mobile gambling. In 2021, the shift is starting to take place with Evolution releasing the first-ever VR live casino game. Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt in VR combines the excitement of playing an online slot while interacting with a live host, all set in a virtual reality. It may not be as immersive as the metaverse plans to unleash one day but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
  13. The internet is filled with many wonderful experiences, a wealth of knowledge, and the ability to entertain just about anyone. Unfortunately, for all of the good the internet has brought to the average household, there’s an equal amount of sinister dealings happening at the same time. While the web may not be all sunshine and roses, we can help keep ourselves safe from those who want to do nothing but rain on our parade. We can’t stop hackers from trying to steal personal information, online casino account logins, or important files – but we can do everything possible to protect ourselves from prying eyes. But where do we begin? We’ll help you get started and learn a few important ways to implement cyber security. What is Hacking? We’re sure you’ve heard of the term “hacking” before now. Initially, the term “hacker” was used to describe a tech expert that could solve any technical problem using their skill. Today, it may trigger images of underground groups hunched over their PCs with screens filled with code and numbers. While that may be the case in the movies, hacking is used by criminals to gain access to personal information and data that can be used to steal from you. Often that can take place in the most unsuspecting ways. Are You at Risk of Being Hacked? Perhaps you spend most of your time enjoying online casino games or browsing Facebook. You may consider yourself too “unimportant” to be hacked. What could a criminal possibly want with your information, right? The fact is, we’re all at risk of having our devices hacked. Hackers use any information they can find to use or sell as they see fit. Hackers are always out to find the following: ➀ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – This can include your name, social security or ID number, date of birth, tax number, medical records, or any other form of personal information that could help a criminal access your accounts. ➁ Activity from time on the internet – Browsing data, cookies from websites, ISP logs, plugins that read your data, and even the websites you visit can all be sold to advertisers. ➂ Emails and social media accounts – Emails tend to have a lot of personal and financial information stored that we all want to keep private. Even instant messages and texts can reveal a lot about how we spend our time and money. ➃ Data from connected devices – Real-time connections via our devices could give full access to a hacker that wants to steal documents or drop viruses onto your computer. This can take place via connections through apps such as Skype. If you tick any of the boxes mentioned above, you could be a target for hacking. But there’s no need to fear! Keep reading to learn how to keep yourself safe. How to Protect Yourself Online Every time you connect to the internet via your computer or mobile device, you need to make sure that you’re protected. When you’re using your computer, there are many ways to stay safe. Using anti-virus software or a VPN can help keep your connections safe and your devices clear of viruses. A virus can find its ways onto your computer in many different ways. The most popular is via a phishing scam email. These emails are often disguised as innocent forms of communication. They could even seem to be from companies you know such as your favourite online casino or the bank you use everyday. Phishing emails are designed to look exactly like a normal email you would open without thinking twice. However, there are usually a few pointers that can help you spot a scam. Does the email address look like it’s from your bank or a business you trust? Is the logo out of focus or pixelated in any way? Is there a suspicious attachment that requires you to download it or provide personal information to open? If you’re ever in doubt, contact the company the email claims to be from and enquire about its legitimacy. While computers are the main target of hackers and scammers, mobile devices are just as at risk. Many users believe that accessing the internet via a mobile browser is 100% safe. At one point, it was believed that iOS on Apple devices was completely unhackable – but this isn’t the case. Just as technology evolves, so does the technology used by criminals. It’s important to always make sure that you’re visiting legitimate sites and that you avoid opening any links that you don’t know or trust. Top 5 Anti-Virus Software Anti-virus software is a great way to protect your computers from hackers. Trusted companies who create anti-virus software constantly upgrade known virus logs and can help you protect you on a daily basis. Here are 5 of the best anti-virus software available now: Norton Bitdefender Panda McAfee TotalAV Use a trusted anti-virus program and keep it updated. Let the software scan your PC regularly and it will inform you if there are any suspicious or potentially dangerous files that need to be dealt with. 5 Best VPN Providers A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) connects you to a service via the internet that creates an encrypted space for you to browse safely. Using this encrypted space, you are practically untraceable and all of your information is kept from prying eyes. You can use a VPN to access sites outside of your region, do your banking with peace of mind, or even play your favourite casino games without worrying about your account being hacked. Here are the top 5 VPN providers you can sign up with today: ExpressVPN CyberGhost IP Vanish VPN Vypr VPN Private VPN A VPN can be used every time you connect to the internet via your PC or mobile device. Be sure to find out if the service you choose has a mobile app to download. Playing Safe at an Online Casino If you enjoy spending your time playing at an online casino, there are a few tips you should keep in mind when selecting how and when you log on to your account. Choose a safe online casino – Take your pick of our GamblersPick casinos and to find a site that is legal and licensed. Choosing a casino that is regulated means you’re already in good hands. Play through a VPN – If your casino accepts logins via a VPN, simply set your service to the country your live in and play through the encrypted connection for extra protection. Select a payment provider you trust – Depending on how you want to deposit and withdraw your funds, you should choose a payment that you’re comfortable with. If you prefer to gambling use cryptocurrency, that is possible at many online casinos today too. Protect yourself from hacking and harm as you enjoy your time online and you’ll have the best experience possible. Stay one step ahead of criminals using our tips and always choose a safe online casino to make the most of your time on the internet.
  14. At GamblersPick we are committed to bringing you coverage of the online gambling industry that puts you first. Whether it’s revealing a new online slot, discussing an important industry news event, or reviewing an online casino we look at it all through the lens of what it means to the player. This player-centric mentality was the driving force behind the creation of the GamblersPick Seal of Approval. Most importantly this Seal of Approval cannot be bought, any of the recommended casinos featuring the emblem have earned it! Our vetting process scrutinises the gambling site looking at five key criteria: their trustworthiness, the quality of their customer service, how they secure your private information, available banking options and their library of casino games. These review criteria were not chosen at random but rather because they covered the most important questions players around the world are asking about gambling. Join us as we specifically answer the 20 most frequently asked questions about online casinos and gambling in general: Trustworthiness ✓Are online gambling sites rigged? This is a very valid question given that a casino could rig games in their favour. This is why recommend always playing at a regulated online. Licensed casinos have their payouts and games tested by third-party auditors as part of their licensing agreement which ensures your safety. ✓Which online casinos are best? This all depends on what you like in an online casino. We always recommend playing where you can use your local currency, transact via a local banking option, and get games from your preferred providers - we cover all this information in our casino reviews. Start your journey with our already vetted list of GamblersPick Select casinos. ✓Who regulates online gambling? The online gambling industry now boasts a host of licensed and regulated gambling jurisdictions. These gambling authorities ensure that online casinos operating in their region follow strict safety and fair play guidelines. For a full list of gambling regulators visit our section on licenses. ✓Where is online gambling illegal? This is a broad question as there is a fine line between illegal and unregulated. Some countries do not offer licensed online gambling but still allow citizens to gambling online without fear of prosecution. We recommend checking the legality of online gambling with a local legal professional to avoid any problems. Customer Experience ✓Are gambling winnings taxable? There is no universal law on whether gambling winnings are taxable. We recommend speaking to a local tax professional or visiting the website of your national revenue service to ensure you are complying with local laws. ✓Can gambling affect your credit score? Interestingly it is not gambling that affects your credit score but where you are seen to be spending your money. Gambling is considered a high-risk activity that could cause your credit score to be adjusted down. However, since it is only a fraction of your income or net worth the impact should be negligible. ✓Can gambling make you rich? For a few lucky gamblers winning a progressive jackpot or big poker tournament has made them rich. However, gambling is not a guaranteed way to make money rather it should be seen as a hobby. Gamble for the entertainment factor, and should you hit a big win consider it a stroke of good luck. ✓How do casino odds work? Whenever you play an online casino game there is the chance that you will win despite there being a House edge that ultimately favours the casino. This is expressed as the game's RTP% (return to player percentage). Should a slot offer an RTP of 96% it means that over time that slot will return 96% of the staked amount to players leaving the House with a 4% margin. There is not guarantee that you will get your money back, however, which is why some lose while others win. ✓Do online gamblers ever win? Yes, there are many stories of online gamblers winning big jackpots. The Microgaming progressive jackpot network for example has paid out over €1.4 billion in prize money. However, the real question is not whether players win but how many players win more than spend. We always recommend playing with a budget that you can afford to lose which ensures you will have a good time regardless of the outcome. ✓Where can I find the best online casino welcome bonuses? With so many online casinos on the market, we have taken the time to both review them and give you detailed information on the available welcome bonuses that you could claim. Visit our Bonuses section for access to nearly 300 welcome offers. ✓What is a no deposit bonus at online casinos? When you claim a welcome bonus when joining a new casino, you generally receive bonus credits or spins once you make a minimum deposit. In the case of a no deposit bonus, you will get these credits or free spins without having to deposit. ✓Are online casino bonuses worth it? When an online casino bonus meets your needs, it is. If you’re looking to test a casino without risking your own money or want to boost your bankroll to extend your playtime, they are great. Some players do not like having to meet wagering requirements before making a withdrawal and in that case, it is better to only play with your own money. Safety ✓Is it safe to play at online casinos? It is safest to play at licensed online casinos as you are guaranteed that they employ the latest online security and encryption measures to protect your personal and banking information. When visiting a gambling site always look for the “lock” symbol in the web address bar as this shows that the site is secure. ✓Can online casinos cheat? The honest answer is that they can. To avoid this play at a reputable online casino that offers games by well-known game developers and is audited by recognised third-party auditing firms. This ensures multiple levels of compliance and gives you the best chance of a safe and secure experience. Payments ✓Which gambling sites accept PayPal? If you’re looking for a GamblersPick Select PayPal site to gamble with we can recommend visiting PlayOJO casino. That being said we offer insights into more than 400 payment methods and the casino who offer them to help you find the best banking options and casino partners. ✓Can online casinos refuse to pay out winnings? Not legally no. If you have legitimately won, then the casino owes you your payout as part of the agreement you entered when joining their site. The only caveat to this is if there is an error that occurred in the game which invalidates the win. Should this happen, a reputable online casino will provide proof of the error and in some cases provide some measure of compensation to ease the loss of a big win. Casino Games ✓Where did gambling originate? Nobody knows if early cavemen placed bets on who could take down the biggest woolly mammoth, but historians have found examples of six-sided dice which could be dated back to 3000 BC. It has also been proven that early Chinese civilisation held lotteries as far back as 2300 BC. However, casinos, as we know them today first, appeared in Italy in the 17th century. ✓Which online gambling game has the best odds? The three casino games with the best odds for players are without doubt baccarat, roulette and craps which have a House edge of 1.06%, 1.35% and 1.4% respectively. Slots are the most prolific online casino game type but generally hold a 3%-5% advantage for the casino. ✓What are the different types of gambling? The term “gambling” covers a wide variety of activities, which not only includes games of chance like slots, roulette and even lottery but also games of skill like poker and sports betting. ✓Are online casino games fair? Casino games from reputable providers like Microgaming, Playtech, Evolution and others use random number generators which use the law of probability to ensure random and therefore fair outcomes. As part of their licensing agreement, these providers are audited by third parties which adds an additional layer of accountability and security.
  15. As lifelong fans of gambling and in particular online gambling it is fantastic to see how many countries are adopting a positive stance towards the hobby. Even if a region does not currently allow local licensing and advertising opportunities, they tend to adopt a ‘no harm, no foul’ approach which allows players to gamble at offshore casinos without any legislative requirements. In a 2021 review of the legal online gambling landscape Slotegrator reported that gambling regulation falls into one of four distinct categories: Those where gambling websites must be licensed by the local regulator (32 countries) Those where only local gaming sites need a license, not foreign sites (32 Countries) Those where online gambling is prohibited, but no legal action is taken against play at foreign sites (28 countries) Those where there are no gambling restrictions at all (93 countries) When looking at the European Union in the context of these categories is becomes clear that the majority of the member states have adopted or are investigating a multi-license regime. ✓EU Free Trade Supports Gambling Regulation For those who are unfamiliar with how the European Union works simply put it is an agreement between 27 member countries that make up most of continental Europe that aim to promote economic and political unity. As a response to the devastating impact of World War 2 on Europe, the European Economic Community (EEC) was created in 1958 to foster financial dependencies. The logic being that when countries are reliant on one another for trade the likelihood of aggression declines. According to a report by the EU Commission in 2021 “82% of products traded in the Single Market are subject to harmonised rules and some 18% of intra-EU trade in goods fall under mutual recognition”. Given that the EU free trade agreement is such a pivotal part of the makeup and longevity of the Union, online gambling became a hotly debated topic as the UK, who was still a member of the EU at the time, promoted full regulation and licensing and expected to be able to trade with its partners. Jurisdictional legislators such as Malta became highly respected markets who expected EU member states to recognise the validity of an MGA licensed casino to trade within the Union. Members that stood against regulated online gambling were seen to be contradicting the compact, and this early friction ultimately led to a burgeoning European online gambling industry. ✓EGBA Striving for Standardised Regulation As with any other multi-party endeavour one of the challenges members of the EU have had to face is how their differing definitions, requirements and even fee structures have become stumbling blocks for their peers. To assist in creating a unified logic to regulation and a set of standards the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was founded. “EGBA works together with national and EU regulatory authorities and other stakeholders towards a well-regulated and well-channelled online gambling market which provides a high level of consumer protection and takes into account the realities of the internet and online consumer demand.” To achieve a sustainable online gambling regime the EGBA strives to: Achieve a well-regulated and competitive market Define an ambitious set of European industry standards Build an integrity-based betting market Address betting-related match-fixing and corruption In addition to creating forums for discourse and staying on top of the day-to-day minutiae associated with tracking the gambling rulings and legislative decision making of 27 member countries the EGBA is also a founding partner of the EU Athletes program, a member of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) and registered with the EU Transparency register since 2009. A July 2021 decision by the EU Commission to not reinstate the Expert Group on Online Gambling to assist regulators in coordinating their legal efforts could see the EGBA having an even more authoritative voice as it fills the role that the Commission renounced. ✓The French Gambling Legislation Interestingly enough when looking at online gambling regulation it is important not to interchange online gambling and online casino, especially if you are looking to play online slots in France. While many gambling sites will say that online casino is legal in France, they are in fact incorrect, however, it is correct to say that online gambling is legal in the country. This is because in 2010 France had a massive overhaul of its gambling law which both created the current body known as the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) and legalised all forms of land-based gambling including casino games, card games, and sports betting. However, in an unexpected turn of events when addressing online gambling the regulation only made allowance for the licensing of online poker and online sports betting, while online games of chance remained a restricted category. ✓An Avid Gambling Community Despite the exclusion of online slots and other casino games, online gambling has flourished in France with La Française des Jeux (FDJ) being responsible for betting and lottery games, while Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is specifically responsible for horse racing. The Q2 2021 report by BusinessWire on the financial results of the FDJ reported that the “digitalised and online stakes” showed an impressive 70% growth over its Q1 results reaching €1.1 billion in revenue from stakes of €9.2 billion. Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and CEO of FDJ, said: “Our stakes are increasing, both online and in our point-of-sale network. Over the half-year, we accordingly recorded an increase of nearly 9% in revenue compared with the same period in 2019. Barring new restrictions in response to developments in the health situation, the Group expects to maintain good momentum in the second half and is confident in its business and results prospects in accordance with its responsible gaming model.” These reports show that the FDJ’s online performance is tracking perfectly for the body to achieve its target of €2.2 billion for the year. Market analysts expect this to come from just over €19 billion in stakes. However, the growth in both player stakes and overall revenue for France’s online gambling market has raised the question of whether their reasoning for excluding online gambling was genuine. When the regulations were announced in 2010 ARJEL argued that games of chance held too high a risk of gambling addiction. That games like slot machines encouraged high engagement and participation, something they then claimed to be looking to actively discourage. However, with the €9.2 billion in stakes over six months it proves French gamblers are an engaged and active community. Despite numerous calls in recent years for other EU member states to open their borders to regulated online gambling, to protect locals and actively participate in the free trade compact France has silently refused to budge on the issue, deflecting the conversation around casino games to a discussion of regulated online gambling instead. In a decision that further confuses the matter, France declared that its citizens may gamble at international offshore casinos. Yet this puts them at risk of playing with casinos who do not adhere to EU safer gambling standards, reduces channelisation by not offering a casino game option for slots players, and driving revenues offshore which could be funnelled into programs that would uplift the French community such education programs and compulsive disorder treatment centres. ✓The Bitcoin Casino Stumbling Block France is one of the most progressive nations in the world and as such has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption. The French are proud HODLERs with nearly 4% of the population owning Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital tokens. Unsurprisingly the lion’s share of this ownership sits with wealthy, tech-savvy men and women in their late mid-twenties to mid-thirties. It should come as no surprise then that in the absence of regulation making online casino gambling illegal a large portion of the French casino market is turning to Bitcoin casinos. Not only do they get to engage in leading online slots and tables games, but they stand the chance to withdraw even more of the valuable cryptocurrency in the process. However, July 13th saw a Parisian court rule that French ISPs had to block local users from accessing two cryptocurrency gambling sites. The ruling came of the back of a decision to hand over cryptocurrency regulations to Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), a securities watchdog with a specific brief to manage digital currency exchanges in the region. In this case while the casino games themselves were not the issue the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in an unregulated marketplace saw the AMF flex its muscle and once again limit French players access to online casino entertainment. Once again, sane minds argue that if France would extend its current online gambling legislation to include online casino games, they could offer local players access to a secure crypto-exchange and secure a valuable revenue resource in the process.
  16. When Satoshi Nakamoto penned his now revered whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” in 2008 it was taken as nothing more than the ravings of an anti-establishment nut by those who bothered to take note. For the most part, the idea of an electronic financial system, run by the people and for the people, free from government oversight and unshackled from the established banking infrastructure was pure fantasy. However, as with most bleeding-edge technologies that hold any real value one of three sectors will drive its progress: the war machine, the adult industry, or the criminal underground. Even in the world of gambling, this trinity of progress holds true. The history of land-based gambling is rife with stories of mobsters and gangsters; however, the business has matured into a legitimate gambling entertainment industry. The internet was developed and nurtured by governments intent of its data transmission potential, something vital to national security measures and in gaining an advantage in times of war. This new technology received funding and was driven into the mainstream by the adult industry as its need to store and transmit high-resolution images and video files became central to how it operated online. Whether you support or appreciate any of these individual building blocks is irrelevant. The reality is that we all benefit from the advancement and adoption of high-speed internet, data storage technology and high-resolution streaming available to us today – be it watching content on YouTube or playing Live Dealer casino games at your favourite mobile casino. Silk Road’s Rough Edges One of the early adopters of the then fledgling decentralised cryptocurrency Bitcoin was a 26 year old Penn State graduate, Ross Ulbricht. During his studies Ulbricht became enamoured with the economic musings of the libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises. Investopedia describes von Mises as: “… an economist of the Austrian school who argued for free markets and against socialism, interventionism, and government manipulation of money.” Confronted with the potential of Bitcoin, full of passion and head knowledge, swayed by the outlandish teachings of an expert, and confronted with a once in a lifetime opportunity to make difference in the world of finance and market economies Ulbricht leapt without thinking… and in 2011 he landed on the idea of Silk Road. In a recorded call with Bitcoin Magazine Ulbricht said: “I thought with Bitcoin, I could try and do something that actually makes a difference— Back then, I was impatient. I rushed ahead with my first idea, which was Silk Road… That’s a 26-year-old who thinks he has to save the world before someone beats him to it. I had no idea Silk Road would work, but now we all know it caught on.” In concept it a great idea, the perfect digital resistance to world full of government dominance and financial strangulation. A truly free and unfettered marketplace where buyers and sellers can transact using Bitcoin without Big Brother tracking their every move. The sad reality is free from restraint and needing specialised skills to enter this new decentralised world it was the criminal element that attached itself to his new venture, not the everyman that he believed would be best served by it. And it would be this element that would be his downfall. Duality of Decentralisation Conceptually the free market economy of Silk Road was a great idea and a practical way to prove the potential of decentralised currencies. You can sell your property, skills, and goods free of excessive fees and taxes. Restraints of goods and materials that exist only because of the squabbles of politicians can be sidestepped in the name of the greater good. The flip side to this altruistic coin is that profit is the real driving force in any economic environment and there is no denying the amount of money behind organised crime. Where Silk Road had the potential to do good, the charges brought against Ulbricht tell a quite different story. Ulbricht, who operated under the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts”, was arrested in 2013 for creating and maintaining a darknet marketplace which facilitated: The sale of illegal narcotics The sale of stolen weapons Murder-for-hire contracts While Ulbricht never personally traded in drugs or firearms and was never connected to any provable assassination contracts, he ran the empire that brokered the relationships and financial transactions that made these possible. Not only did he facilitate these illicit transactions, but Silk Road took a percentage of the cost of the transaction meaning he benefited directly from each contract. Silk Road is recorded as having generated $213.9 million in sales during its two-year run which meant $13.2 million in commissions for Ulbricht. While many of his supporters cry foul, lumping Ulbricht in with the likes of infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden, Ulbricht’s laptop was shown to hold millions of words in conversations between Ulbricht and his team discussing the types of sales available on the site. Proving he knowingly profited from illegal and even life-threatening activities. What may have begun as an altruistic movement sadly ended up being nothing more than a highly profitable criminal platform. One that has seen Ulbricht sentenced to two-life terms plus forty years without the possibility of parole. The Power of a Maturate Market The world we are in today seems incredibly far removed from the wild times that saw the meteoric rise and fall of Silk Road. Discussions around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and many others are part of daily life. The need for specialised access to tools like Tor browsers and access to the dark web is virtually non-existent as exchanges have simplified the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, and mainstream financial institutions begin to offer crypto investment options as part of the portfolios. Even the adoption of stablecoin methodologies by world governments in the pursuit of the creation and institutionalisation of digital currencies such as the digital Yuan and digital Dollar is proof that blockchain technology is changing the world. For the online gambling community, this means even faster and more secure banking options, instant withdrawals of winnings and the highest possible levels of data security for your personal information. While Nakamoto’s vision of a global financial system free from restraint and control by external parties may one day come into being, where we are right now is a good place to be. We have a groundbreaking technology that is changing the world by allowing unbanked and poor countries to transact internationally in order to feed families and save lives, it is creating the potential for a new trade paradigm not dominated by the US dollar and it is doing so in the public domain, where the global community is learning and growing together.