Located roughly 5 miles off the Hampshire coast of England in the Channel, the Isle of Wight is a major holiday destination. The picturesque island is famous for beautiful piers, marina and sailing, and an idyllic landscape that was made for walking and cycling holidays.
But the Isle is these days becoming a massive hotspot for another kind of entertainment, and it is all online. We are talking about online casinos and sportsbook gambling. England’s largest island has been quietly developing a name as the next best hotspot for online casino operators.
How is this possible? Are there any major factors behind this growing popularity of online casino entertainment in these placid lands? Let’s try and identify these in detail.
It is, after all, a part of England!
The tiny island of 150 square miles has often been called “England in miniature” due to its unique and varied geography and environments. It has coastlines dominated by the famous chalk downland ridges, while the inland areas include woodlands, meadows, rivers, and moors.
Located just a ferry ride away from the Hampshire coast and the city of Portsmouth, the culture of the Isle is also distinctly English, and proudly so. This does have a significant impact on the island’s general attitude towards casinos and gambling.
As you may already know, the UK has developed quite a reputation in the last 30 years or so, as one of the biggest gambling markets in the world. Betting and games of chance have been a national pastime since time immemorial.
And with the recent codification of online casino laws in 2006, the business has really taken off. There are over 800 licensed online casino operators in the UK, as per the Gambling Commission stats.
Since the Isle of Wight is a part of the UK, all these operators provide world-class online gambling experience to the residents (and visitors) on the island.
There are no land casinos on the Isle
This is a massive surprise, given its relatively dense population of over 140,000 residents on the Isle of Wight. Also, let us not forget the booming tourism and recreations industry here, which has been active for nearly two centuries.
When you consider these two factors together, it is quite surprising that nobody has opted to invest in a big casino resort on the island. The closest anyone came to that was back in 2007, when Labour announced a massive investment in huge casinos to stimulate local economies.
But a combination of the global recession and public backlash put paid to those efforts, with three Aspers casinos in Newham, Milton Keynes, and Birmingham being the end result. Since then, no new initiatives have been forthcoming, despite the immense potential of gambling tourism on the island.
But there is a huge demand for gambling slots
Even if there are no casinos, studies have shown that the Island of Wight is quintessentially British when it comes to a love for wagers. In the absence of casinos, gambling machines have stepped in to provide relief to enthusiasts here.
Fixed-odds betting machines (FOBT) offering casino games like slots and roulette have become a popular source of gambling entertainment. In fact, they became a bit “too popular” according to news reports from 2016.
Studies indicated that the islanders were spending a whopping £60 million or more each year on these betting machines on the Isle of Wight. Cue protests and concerns, and the government stepped in to reduce the betting minimum to £2 on the FOBTs to counter the risk of problem gambling.
But the study results do show that there is a vast market for casino games and slots on the island. The nearest land casinos are all on the other side of The Solent, at places like Portsmouth.
While those casinos are just a ferry ride away, that can still be a hassle depending on various factors like climate, sea conditions, and more.
Online casinos are stepping in to fill the void
All these factors point inevitably to this conclusion – thanks to excellent internet access and other IT infrastructure on the Isle, online casinos have become the best option for anybody who wants to scratch that itch for a quick wager or two.
You can find the best online options in the UK right here at the Isle of Wight. All you need is a PC, Mac, or a decent smartphone and some internet access. You can play slots, poker, roulette, and blackjack to your heart’s content, anytime, anywhere.
And that is just the consumer side of the equation we are talking about. For the isle may have even more to offer to businesses operating in the iGaming industry.
What the Isle of Wight can learn from others like Isle of Man, Gibraltar
The online casino industry has a long love affair with small territories that have generous tax laws. Places like Curacao, Panama, and closer home – Isle of Man and Jersey all exist as destinations for online casino operators.
Many companies have their headquarters in these island territories thanks to the support and encouragement from local authorities. Many popular online casino licenses are provided by these authorities who earn benefits in the form of fees, taxes, and local employment generation.
The Isle of Wight is perfectly placed to benefit from a similar arrangement with the iGaming industry. It has excellent infrastructure, thanks to a long history maritime and engineering industries operating there.
The birthplace of the hovercraft has a lot to offer in the modern era of internet casino indeed. But at the moment, there are no clear signs of anybody taking the initiative to tap into this potential. Until that happens, online casinos will continue to provide quality entertainment to players on the Isle.