FOR SUCH a small nation, Ireland has a profound impact on a global scale in numerous different industries. You’ve got Conor McGregor changing the landscape of mixed martial arts, the national rugby team in competitions like the Six Nations and, more recently, the explosion of online gaming on the Emerald Isle.
The term ‘online gaming’ refers to various different forms, the most prominent of which are eSports and online casino games. The former is a worldwide industry which sees popular gamers compete for cash prizes, with fans able to watch online.
This sector has seen incredible growth over the past few years and its global revenue is expected to top $3bn next year. In Ireland, roughly 22% of adults say they would watch or participate in an eSports tournament.
The growth of online casinos in Ireland
Online casinos have also seen a boom since a change in legislation six years ago allowed suppliers to offer their services in the region. Since then, many casino providers have become established offering a variety of casino games. There has also been a rise in gambling sites offering solely one casino game niche. For example, Irish slots are now increasingly popular as many slot providers have entered the market offering a range of
themed slot games to their players. There are also other niche specific sites on the market such as online poker sites.
Over the past year, online casinos in Ireland have seen a 38% increase in the amount of people registering to play, highlighting just how rapidly the market is growing.
A large part of the reason behind this surge in popularity is the development of new technologies and the advancement of accessibility.
First off, it’s now easier than ever to access online games, including those supplied by casinos. As of last year, there were roughly 3.6m regular smartphone users in Ireland.
Online casino suppliers have fully embraced technological advancements and the vast majority of them are accessible from smartphones. This means they can be played on the go and at the tap of your finger.
Likewise, they can be accessed from your computer or tablet, meaning people no longer need to leave the comfort of their home to play casino games and potentially win some money.
The online casino market is notoriously competitive, though, which has led to a cycle of constant innovation from suppliers in an effort to attract new customers. New features are always being implemented into traditional casino games to make them more engaging.
For example, card games can be played live with a real-life dealer - not a computer - with the game being streamed directly to your phone or device. This creates a greater sense of immersion, making games even more appealing for players.
Slots remain the most popular casino game in Ireland and this trend has transferred to the online arena as well. They’re easy to play and can throw up huge rewards.
Slots have also been innovated in the digital realm, with interactive features added, as well as adaptive artwork and even mini games.
How popular is eSports in Ireland?
It’s not just the online casino industry that is evolving in Ireland, though. More and more Irish citizens are getting involved in eSports, whether it’s just watching their favourite streamers or playing online games themselves in a bid to reach competitions.
Prominent Irish YouTubers like Sean William McLoughlin - better known as Jacksepticeye - have amassed enormous followings and command huge audiences with their videos and livestreams.
Irish game developers
In a similar vein, Ireland has also produced some wildly successful game developers. Steve Collins and Hugh Reynolds, for example, teamed up to create Havok Games, software that is now used in over 150 titles, resulting in the company being sold to Intel in 2018 for €76 million.
The likes of EA Sports, Activision and Riot Gall all now have studios in Ireland, and the homegrown gaming industry is thriving. In 2018, Ireland’s first ever AAA-game was released, Star Trek Fleet Command, and became a best-seller worldwide.
Digit, the company which made the game, has since been bought out by a major developer called Scopely, who have vowed to keep the Irish operation open, just now with even more resources at its disposal.
With all this in mind, it seems certain that the online gaming industry is only going to continue to thrive and grow in Ireland.
Online casinos are seeing shocking levels of growth year-on-year as services become more accessible and engaging. Mobile gaming is also constantly on the rise and more people have their own devices, and developers are tailoring content for this format.
eSports and online video games have become extremely big business in Ireland, with almost a quarter of all adults watching or playing themselves. Prominent figures like McLoughlin have massively boosted the exposure of eSports and online gaming, particularly to younger Irish audiences.
Over the past few years, new studios and developers have popped up across the country, and this doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
Companies like Amazon and Google are still trying to gain a foothold in the online gaming industry, while Netflix recently announced the launch of its own platform, which will be mobile based for now.
Ireland has not only produced some impactful figures in this sector, but it has also proven itself a nation fully willing to embrace the rise of online gaming, whether it’s casino games, eSports or mobile games.