Whether it’s a roll of the dice, a spin of the roulette wheel or a shrewd prediction about a forthcoming sporting event, wagering is a quintessential human compulsion – whether we lay money on the table or not.

Gamblers – those swivel-eyed, chin-stroking and most instinctive of individuals – opt to feed the compulsion, to nurture it as one might a money-yielding flower. Ever mindful of times when it led them to pots of gold, ever wary of blind alleys it tortuously lured them towards, they weigh the odds, probe the past and, finally, come to a judgement. Yay or nay? To bet or not to bet?

Some bettors prefer to factor in their physical comportment when having a flutter. Such enterprising stakers find themselves crossing the threshold of the nearest casino, finding a baize-covered card table and sitting down to play the man. Nowadays, though, most people favour online gaming. It couldn’t be simpler; plug yourself into the matrix, sign up to a virtual casino and off you go. In bygone years, finding a poker game might have entailed knocking on a door in a foreboding section of town and whispering a secret password. Today, you don’t even need to get dressed to get in a game. Away from the neon flashbulbs and debonair croupiers, there’s  money to be made in places like online casino netbet – even if you can’t clutch the chips in the palm of your hand.

[quote_center]Imagining a world without online gambling is like conceiving of a world minus mobile phones or Twitter[/quote_center]

‘Money to be made’ might well be an understatement. Since 2003, the global online gambling market has grown year on year. In 2015, the market has a US dollar value of 41.4 billion: a virtual sea of money whose horizons continue to expand. Casino games and sports betting make up the most profitable slice of the pie – even if high rollers like boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr prefer to place their bets in person at the sportsbook.

The internet was an infant when online casinos came into being in 1994. There’s something almost earnestly innocent about the era, looking back on it now: that prelapsarian, pre-internet Eden is lost in the mists of time. Gambling, today, is bigger and better; more streamlined, more accessible. Imagining a world without online gambling is like conceiving of a world minus mobile phones or Twitter; a paradoxically pre-apocalyptic wasteland, the image of which is enough to induce a shiver down the spine.    

While some critics have attempted to smear the colossal online gambling market, research conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction found a dearth of evidence to support claims that online casinos create more problem gamblers than other forms of wagering. Gambling is gambling, the study seemed to conclude – no matter the venue.

Maybe you’ve never gambled, and maybe you don’t want to. But maybe, just maybe, you haven’t found the right game. From Jurassic Park online slot machines to virtual tennis matches, the variety is endless. And if you’ll pardon the pun, there’s never been a better – or funner – time to get on the horse.

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