How to start an online gambling site
From getting a licence and creating a site to choosing software and making a mark in a competitive industry, here’s what starting a gaming site entails
Creating a new online gambling site in the UK looks like a daunting task to most, and indeed, this kind of venture demands some true passion for the field and the will to invest and stick it out to start seeing a nice income from the business.
However, there are also aspects of the online gaming market that make it easier to start an online gambling site than ever before. Software solutions are made for people who don’t know the first thing about programming and UK gambling laws are pretty clear cut and straight forward.
The regulatory matters are the first thing to look into because if you don’t have your licenses in place, you aren’t going to get very far with your online offer. So let’s have a look at that:
Legal stuff first
Before you even start thinking of a proper domain name for your gambling site, you need to look at the types of licenses you will need as put forward by the UK Gambling Commission. The general two licenses needed are the operating licence and the personal management licence.
You need to have the operating licence regardless of being in the UK or not, if you operate from another country you need to apply for a remote operating licence in order to offer UK players games online. The Gambling Commission has many different licenses for different types of games such as betting, bingo, casino games and lotteries.
However, if you are not going to offer your gaming services to British citizens but to other countries and all of the equipment related to your online gaming business is also located abroad, you do not need the licence from the UK Gambling Commission. It might be wise to contact the commission to find out more about the demands regarding the software and other issues that you should be well aware of ahead of starting up your online gambling enterprise.
It can also be wise to be in contact with a gaming lawyer such as Rick S. Geiger. You can follow him on Twitter here where he brings attention to many interesting aspects of the legal online gambling industry. Sometimes it is simply easier when you can ask your questions to a person and not a search engine or official site.
Creating a site
Creating a gambling site does not require in-depth programming knowledge. Today there are out-of-the-box solutions where you get a ready gambling site with a well-functioning backend system. You can also expect to get different choices of design and layout.
Usually the big gambling software providers brand themselves through their characters and themes. So if you go for a provider like Net Entertainment you will be able to build a site with their cool figures and unique designs. A great advantage with the well-established software providers such as Playtech, NetEnt and Microgaming is that their online solutions are made to truly engage the players while the operator of the site will find it easy to manage it and keep track of the business. But there is more than the actual design and navigation to think about.
Today players want fast and easy solutions and they expect payments to be safe. Therefore you need to consider what sort of payment systems you want to work with. This is something that can come together with the software package you choose and something you should learn more about before you settle for your gambling software.
This video gives you a nice payment systems outline:
The best software
Which software should you choose? You obviously want to give the UK players the games they are looking for and today there are great solutions where you can combine several software giants not to miss out on any important games.
Depending on what type of gambling you will offer, casino games and/or poker games, you might want to focus on a provider that can bring you important functions like live games, multi-player games, and mobile games.
The mobile gaming market is only growing and therefore it will make little sense to offer a gambling site not adjusted to smaller screens. In fact, there are plenty of gaming providers who focus solely on the mobile players. When it comes to poker a lot of players participating is a must and you should opt for a poker network that can give your site the type of action that poker players are looking for.
To make money from a gambling site you need players. The revenues come from the losses of players so you will need a lot of them, but how will you get new players to discover your site? Today online gambling sites must understand SEO and how to appear where potential new players are online. This means that important search terms must be conquered and proper advertising in social media must also be in place. This can take a lot of time because, as you are probably aware of, the gambling market online is highly saturated. At the same time a PwC report on the casino and online gambling market shows that people are betting more and more, so there is room for more gambling sites. And if you understand how to work with online marketing correctly make use of venues like:
- Gambling forums
- Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter
- Article marketing and blogging
There is a chance that the search engines will start listing you in their free search results so that you can get more traffic and new players making your site into a lucrative venture.
As mentioned the competition is stiff and you can’t expect to take over well established brands such as Titanbet poker UK whose owner Teddy Sagi’s appearances in the gambling news has a positive effect on the brand no matter what the stories are about.
People like Teddy Sagi have a lot of experience and therefore they get a headstart even when they kick off completely new ventures. A good example of this is the team behind the online casino Mr Green, Fredrik Sidfalk, Henrik Bergquist and Mikael Pawlo. Sidfalk and Bergquist were on the team that founded Betsson which is one of the major online gambling brands with a UK licence online today.
With this type of background they don’t only know what players are looking for, they also have the experience of running gambling platforms and know what to look out for. But one cannot just blame the competition for not making it to the top.
There are many reasons why some casinos find themselves blacklisted both by the players and by legal institutions. When the business is not managed correctly it will influence the success of the site and if you don’t have prior experience of offering games online it will pay off to learn as much as possible about possible pitfalls and also how to navigate the legal stuff correctly.
The goal of every casino and poker operator is to make a lot of money from the site. But how soon can you expect to see a return of investment (ROI)? How much do you have to put into a venture to get it rolling? And when will you see money from your site?
Even if you decide to do a lot of the work by yourself and use a semi-automatic customer service chat function rather than a fully operating call centre, you should expect to put at least £194,000 ($300,000) on the new business. The marketing will be a costly part and also a very important one since you will need a lot of new players if you want your gambling site to pay off.
If you work like a Trojan and manage to advertise correctly and also start to show up in the search results within a few months, you could look forward to making a return about half a year after starting the business.
However, it could be a lot more depending on your skills, luck and other factors. The biggest gambling operators online put huge amounts of money into their marketing and these are the ones you are up against so you’d better find the right channels and best methods to reach your target clientele.
If you want to offer live games and extensive live customer support this will lead to additional costs. Some online gaming sites start out without and then add it on as they collect a wider player base. This is also an alternative if you are not ready to put a huge sum into your site right from the start.
Your costs for outsourcing work and for hiring staff will depend on how much you can do yourself and just what you want to offer. Consider how your customer support will affect the way your site is perceived. A casino such as Casumo only has a ‘contact us’ form and no telephone or chat support while a big site such as Unibet has done a lot in recent years to upgrade its support and make it available 24/7. While customer support can be costly to run it could actually make your brand look more serious, which is also a very important form of marketing.
Safe gambling online
Another thing to consider carefully is player safety. Offering solutions for players that develop gambling addictions is something that ensures a site will be taken seriously. For this purpose it might be a good idea to go through training and get certification from a well-known organisation such as GamCare. With GamCare certification you can offer your players the kind of support they will need and therefore make your site a safe and harmonious place on which to gamble.
While it would be wonderful if all new players that join your gambling site know how to gamble in a safe and healthy way this is simply not the case. It is crucial you find out more about gambling addictions, how it works, and what you can do to keep it out of your casino or poker room. It might also be of interest to see what different organisations are doing.
Offering the big jackpots
Many players are drawn to the progressive games and the poker rooms with the biggest prizes. This is only natural. If you open a casino you need to realise you might not be able to offer the progressive games until you reach a certain level of turnover. Even if you build a site with the NetEnt games it might be a while before you can offer their big progressive games such as Hall of Gods and Mega Fortune that holds the record of largest jackpot payout online. But if you work on building a solid player base and use the right marketing methods it shouldn’t have to take more than a year to get these games and add on something to your site that will attract many more players.
Work with a plan
As you can tell there are quite a few things to consider before starting an online gambling site and good advice is to build a solid plan. A plan where you tak every aspect into consideration and calculate your estimated costs.
With this plan in hand it will be easier for you to create a success online and avoid mistakes that could lead to troublesome setbacks. Even if you are eager to get that site going it will be wise to give the plan plenty of time for plainer sailing once your site opens its doors to players from the UK and other parts of the world.