Overview of Online Gambling History – A Peak Into the Future

The online casino gaming industry has an exciting history dating back to 1994 when the Internet first became available for commercial use. The first online casino went live in 1994, and ever since, the industry has come a long way.

Today, we are in the era of mobile gambling. Operators and software providers are experimenting with new technologies like blockchain, virtual reality (VR), and smartwatch gambling. The online casino gaming industry is one of the fastest-growing industries because of its quickness in implementing the latest technologies. We can safely say that it has a bright and exciting future.

Let us now explore the pages of online gambling history, look at the present scenario, and predict the future. We will examine numbers, statistics, projections, and facts to get a clearer picture.

How It All Began

While gambling is as old as human civilization, online gambling is only as old as the Internet. Before 1994, the Internet was a project of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the research and development agency of the US Department of Defense. The first online casino emerged when the Internet became available for commercial use in the US.

Here are a few noteworthy events that took place in the early nineties:

In Antigua and Barbuda, an Act of Parliament led to the establishment of the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade and Processing Zone in 1994. It is an initiative the government undertook to diversify the state economy.

The government also passed the Free Trade and Processing Act to grant online gambling licenses. This led to the establishment of InterCasino, the world’s first online casino.

Established in 1994, Microgaming is a software provider claiming to have developed the world’s first true casino in 1994. But this is not InterCasino, which was launched in 1996.

The first Microgaming online casino, Gaming Club Online Casino, went live in 1994. It offered few games and is not the same online casino we see today.

Online Casino Gaming – Early Years

The following timeline gives you an idea of the early years of the online casino gaming industry:

1994: Microgaming, the world’s biggest provider of online casino gaming software solutions and gaming content, was established.

1995: CryptoLogic was the second software provider to be established.

1995: Microgaming launched a library of online casino games like traditional table games and card games and slots. The company released games like blackjack, roulette, video poker, and craps.

1996: The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) was formed in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.

1996: InterCasino went live on the WagerLogic software platform, a part of CryptoLogic, and accepted its first real money wager. The online casino functioned on a license granted in Antigua and Barbuda.

1996: NetEnt, a well-known supplier of casino software solutions was established in Sweden.

1998: Microgaming released Cash Splash, the world’s first area-wide progressive slot. The same year, it released another progressive jackpot slot called LotsaLoot.

The online casino gaming industry exploded with so many software providers around. In 1996, we had only 15 online casinos, but the number of casinos shot up to 200+ in the first half of 1997. The industry generated revenue of $834 million by the end of 1997.

Online Casinos Continue to Thrive

By May 1999, we had 700 online casinos, and the number of online casinos shot up to 2,300 by September 2006.

Let us have a look at some of the major industry events post 1998:

1999: This year saw the introduction of multi-player gaming, which enabled players to interact with one another as they played and made them feel as if they were at a land-based casino.

1999: The major online casino software provider Playtech was launched.

Launch of eCOGRA in 2003: The UK-based eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) is an internationally acclaimed and leading independent testing agency. It specializes in inspecting, testing, and certifying online gambling systems and software.

The purpose of establishing eCOGRA was to protect players and ensure fair gambling and responsible conduct among software providers, operators, and other service providers related to the casino gaming industry.

888 Holdings, Microgaming, and Bwin were the founders of eCOGRA, but the organization is now independent because it has severed all ties with its founders. This was possible because of a management buy-out under the leadership of CEO Andrew Beveridge.

Today, online casinos bearing the eCOGRA seal & certificate are the best, the most secure, and the most reliable in the industry.

2003: Microgaming partnered with Spin3 and launched its first mobile casino gaming software platform.

The UIGEA of 2006 – Death Knell of Online Casino Gaming in the US

Everything was fine till 2006. The online casino gaming industry continued to flourish and profit. In 2002, the industry was worth $4.5 billion.

Things became more profitable than ever when operators launched mobile casino gaming apps. Juniper Research predicted that the mobile casino gaming market will become worth $19.3 billion by 2009.

In 2019, it was worth US$95.448 billion and will touch the US$420.386 billion mark by 2026.

But something happened in 2006 that sounded the death knell of the online casino gaming industry in the US. That year, the US government enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

Although it did not target individual US players, it made it illegal for banks, payment service providers, and financial institutions to process gambling-related transactions. The law also criminalized the act of knowingly accepting bets or wagers over the Internet. However, the law did not apply to skill-based games, fantasy games, intertribal gaming, and legal interstate gaming.

The UIGEA led to the mass exodus of online casino operators, software providers, and payment service providers from the US market. Today most online casinos do not accept registrations from US players.

However, this does not mean that US players cannot gamble online. Many offshore online gambling sites licensed in Curacao and Kahnawake accept US players. These online casinos offer games from US-friendly software providers like Betsoft, Real Time Gaming (RTG), and Rival Powered. But after the passage of the UIGEA into law, US players do not have a wide range of offshore online casinos to play at.

The UIGEA affected gambling revenue. Although experts estimated that the mobile gaming industry would be worth $19.3 billion in 2009, it fell to a miserable $4.9 billion that year.

US States Legalize Online Casinos

The dark days of the US online casino gaming industry are finally over because of a US Supreme Court ruling of May 2018.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prevented the legalization of sports betting in the US for over 25 years. But in May 2018, the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, leaving US states free to legalize online sports betting and other forms of online gambling.

Online poker and USA online casinos are now legal in Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Nevada. Residents of these states can play their favorite online casino games in a safe, secure, and licensed environment.

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Online Casino Gaming Gains Popularity

Online casinos have evolved a lot. In 2008, a progressive jackpot became worth $5.5 million for the first time. In November 2011, a player won $11.7 million while playing NetEnt’s Mega Fortune. An English player created history when he won the biggest jackpot of £13.21 million ever won so far while playing Microgaming’s Mega Moolah.

The growth of mobile casinos was the next big thing in the history of online gambling. Encouraged by the increase in tablet and smartphone users worldwide, operators began launching web applications and native casino apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.

The online casino gaming industry has been quick to implement the latest developments in technology. When cryptocurrency use became widespread, many online casinos started offering Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and other digital currencies as casino payment methods. Today, we have hundreds of online casinos that support only cryptocurrencies and allow you to play anonymously.

Online Casino Gaming – A Glimpse into the Future

Online casino gaming has a bright future.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown restrictions it imposed on people worldwide led to an increase in the use of online gambling sites, including online casinos, online sportsbooks, bingo sites, online poker rooms, fantasy sports sites, and others. Unable to visit their favorite land-based gambling establishments, players turned to online casinos in large numbers. Juniper Research predicts that online gambling wagers will surpass $1 trillion by 2022.

The popularity of mobile gambling is one of the biggest contributors to the growth of the online gambling industry. Juniper Research had predicted that the mobile gambling market would be worth $37 million in 2014. However, it was worth $550 billion in 2016.

You can expect the following developments in the online casino gaming industry in the future:

HTML5 Online Casinos

Software providers have already implemented HTML5 technology into their solutions. As a result, we now have browser-based online casinos. You no longer have to download and install software clients and native apps for a high-quality online gambling experience.

HTML5 technology allows you to enjoy sophisticated graphics and special effects in your browser. Moreover, you can access your favorite online casino on all devices, including PCs, Mac computers, and mobile devices.

Game Aggregation

Single-vendor online casinos are slowly going out of fashion, although you can still find them around. The modern online casino partners with providers of white label solutions like White Hat Gaming, SoftSwiss, and others.

These companies are game aggregators that partner with multiple software providers, allowing you to play thousands of online casino games from multiple vendors on an instant-play software platform.

Social Media Gambling

Although not brand new, social media gambling is still as popular as ever. Social media networks like Facebook and social gambling sites offer simulated gambling games free of cost. The priority is on social interaction.

So you can chat with your friends as you play social games and win virtual money prizes.

Virtual Reality (VR) Casinos

VR casinos are already in the present, although VR technology is in its infancy and VR kits and devices are still expensive and out of reach for the masses. The first VR casino went live in 2016.

And XR Casino Inc, the world’s first multi-player and cross-technology online casino based on blockchain technology and supporting Extended Reality (ER), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), went live in 2021. XR Casino has partnered with Unity, Magic Leap, Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus, and many others. The list of supported devices includes HTC Vive, Nreal Glasses, Hololens2, Oculus and others.

VR technology allows players to experience the land-based casino in the comforts of home, but it is much more than live dealer gaming. VR casinos give you the feeling of actually stepping inside a land-based casino, operating slot machines, getting drinks, interacting with croupiers and fellow players, and more. All you need is a VR kit. VR casinos are likely to target younger players who are comfortable with the latest technologies.

Implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Online casinos are increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) to boost security at online casinos. Operators use AI to protect player data, maintain privacy, and process payouts securely.

Today’s best online casinos use advanced AI programs to enable you to bet in a secure environment. Shortly, operators will increasingly use AI to create a customized online gambling experience, eliminate fraud, identify problem gamblers, and provide better customer support.

Crypto Casinos

The online casino gaming industry was one of the first industries to accept deposits through cryptocurrencies. Playing at licensed online casinos that offer cryptocurrencies, along with traditional payment methods, is safe. But crypto-only online casinos do not prioritize licensing because of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies.

However, things will change in the future when cryptocurrencies enter the mainstream. If governments regulate cryptocurrencies, we will have many more licensed and reputed online casinos offering crypto support.

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Concluding Thoughts

In the next few years, online and mobile casino gaming will change for the better. We can look forward to better gaming technologies, crypto support, enhanced security, AI-powered online casino games, and games compatible with wearable devices like smartwatches.

Published on: 2019/04/23