One of my favorite ways to try to understand a subject is to divide it up into categories. For example, if I want to understand slot machines, I need to understand the different categories of slot machines available. Since this site is about online gambling sites, I thought it might be appropriate to approach the subject of online gambling sites in the same way.
How do writers and webmasters categorize online gambling sites?
The first categorization I think of is the information portal. That's probably because this site itself is an information portal.
What distinguishes a gambling information portal from other kinds of online gambling sites?
The main thing is that you can't play gambling games for real money on such a site. The purpose of the site is to offer explanations and information about gambling to the reader.
Some information portals are narrowly focused. You can find dozens of sites that limit their discussions to a single game. You'll find blackjack sites, slots sites, and video poker sites aplenty.
You'll also find information portals that offer casino recommendations and reviews.
And some information portals focus on math and strategy.
Some even try to cover every subject you can think of related to gambling. These comprehensive websites can be thought of as being online encyclopedias of gambling information.
The quality of these types of sites can vary dramatically though.
An online casino site is one that offers online versions of casino games that you can play for free or for real money. For purposes of categorization, you can think of casino games as being games offered by the house where the house covers all your action. This distinguishes online casinos from online poker sites, for example.
The most commonly offered games at online casino sites include:
Those are the "big 5", but dozens if not hundreds of other games are available, too.
Online casino sites can be further categorized by any number of criteria:
You can probably think of other ways to categorize online casinos, too.
An online poker site is a site where you can play poker for free or for real money with other players. Notice that poker is distinct from other casino games because you're competing with the other players rather than the house. The site makes its money by taking a small percentage of each pot (the "rake").
Like online casinos, poker sites can be categorized by bonuses available, games available, countries served, and level of trustworthiness. I don't know of any poker sites with live dealers or webcams, though.
Commonly offered games (which can be used as categories) include:
One observation about online poker sites, too-you won't find many of them accepting action from U.S. based players any more. The United States government has acted against offshore companies taking poker players from the United States. They've been less aggressive tackling online casino sites and other gambling sites, though. This probably relates to the incredible popularity that poker saw over the last decade or so.
These are sites where you can bet on sporting events. In the United States, The Wire Act makes such sites illegal, but some of them still accept action from U.S. players.
Online sports betting sites can be subcategorized in similar ways to online casino sites and online poker sites. But many online sports betting sites offer multiple gambling activities besides just sports betting. Some of them also offer casino games and/or poker games, too, making them a sort of "one-stop-shop" for gamblers.
One way to further categorize sports betting sites is by looking at which sports they allow you to bet on. Most major sports are available to bet on at most major betting sites, but some sites offer bets on entertainment and political news.
Online bingo sites aren't as popular as online casinos, poker, or sports betting sites, but they do have a dedicated fan base. Most online bingo players are addicted to the chat functionality. Some online bingo sites also offer slot machines and/or video poker, too.
One of the smaller niches in the gambling site world is that of skill games. These are sites which offer games where the outcome is determined by skill rather than chance. For example, a site offering a trivia tournament with real money on the line would be considered a skill game site. Another example might be a site where you can play online video game version of billiards for money.
Depending on where you live in the United States, such sites might be completely legal or still illegal. One of the factors many states take into account when deciding the legality of a gambling activity is whether it's a game of chance or a game of skill. But in other states, it's the money being wagered that makes it a gambling activity.
The newest categorization is that of sites where you can play fantasy sports contest with a short time period. Traditionally, fantasy sports are played on a season long basis. But after the poker sites stopped accepting United States players, the people running the poker sites were looking for something new to do. UIGEA, the legislation that made it illegal to transfer funds for online gambling purposes, exempted fantasy sports from its purview. Entrepreneurs realized they could adapt the sit and go poker tournament model to fantasy sports, and it quickly became big business.
What does the future hold for online gambling sites?
It's hard to say, but one thing's for certain. The industry isn't going to stand still.
My best guess is that we're going to see a rise in virtual reality gambling. Instead of just webcams or animated games, you'll have virtual reality goggles that simulate walking around in a brick and mortar casino.
Of course, new casino games are launching all the time. Future gambling activities will probably, like fantasy sports, be variations of existing gambling activities. New versions of slot machines and video poker will continue to roll out. We'll see more house-banked poker games, too.
One other thing is certain, too-online gambling sites aren't going to disappear anytime soon.
It's fun to think of the number of ways you can categorize and subcategorize any topic. This site falls squarely into the "information portal" category of online gambling sites, but we include information on our site about websites in all the other subcategories, too.