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History of Online Gambling & Online Casinos: How It All Began?

Round Head IconNovember 23, 2020 - CasinoBloke

The internet has been around for nearly three decades, while modern generations can hardly imagine life without the World Wide Web. It revolutionised many aspects of our lives, but the one we’re going to discuss today is the impact it had on gambling.

Although the ancient Romans enjoyed gambling, the activity didn’t evolve into the mainstream until the second half of the nineteenth century. With the rise of the internet, gambling got a brand new form, opening a whole new world of possibilities for both players and operators.

But when did online gambling start and which milestones did it make since its inception? We’ll give our best to answer all these questions and much more.

The Early Beginnings

Defining online gambling is not that hard. Essentially, the term refers to any form of gambling conducted on the internet. It includes video slots, virtual poker, wagering on sports, as well as many other types of gambling. The first websites that offered its visitors the possibility to gamble online were launched in the early 1990s. However, they were far from the modern gambling platforms of today.

But even before the development of online casinos, an Isle of Man-headquartered company called Microgaming created a fully functional gambling software, secured by CryptoLogic, one of the leading names in providing online security. This allowed safe transactions, leading to the launch of the world’s first online casino in 1994.

Microgaming has remained one of the most important developers in the online gambling industry, offering its reliable and secure gaming platform that can support everything from online casinos to poker rooms.

A year later, in 1995, CryptoLogic launched InterCasino, the first online casino that allowed its customers to wager real money. The online casino, which is still in operation today, completely changed the way transactions were handled online, speeding up the process and making it much safer. That’s why it’s no surprise that CryptoLogic’s online casino managed to become very popular among punters quickly.

1996 was another significant year for online gambling, as a Mohawk Indian Tribe from Canada established the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The commission was tasked with issuing gaming licenses to all those interested in doing business with the tribe. At the same time, its launch coincided with the increase in numbers of online gambling sites.

The Rise in Popularity

The introduction of the commission set the legal foundations for the further growth of the online gambling industry. People were quick to realise the enormous potential of online casinos, and so, by the end of 1996, around fifteen online gambling websites were offering their services to gamblers. Only a year later, the new industry exploded, with more than 200 online casinos, poker and sports betting sites being in operation worldwide, generating annual profits of nearly $1 billion!

Online gambling sites quickly became extremely popular with all types of punters, as they offered an entirely new way to enjoy casino games. Since more and more new sites were launched almost on a regular basis, the industry became very competitive. Operators gave their best to have an appealing and diverse offering of games. It was all about attracting new customers and keep the old ones return for more.

The technology was a limiting factor in the early days of online gambling, so the companies had to think of new ways to draw new players. That’s how the whole concept of welcome bonuses was devised.

The quality of online casino software also rapidly improved over time. Developers added new features to their games, high-quality graphics, superb animations and innovative game mechanics. Many things have changed since those days, although the quality and innovation have stayed two of the main goals of gambling companies, which always strive to get more players.

The Introduction of Live Dealer Games

With the development of online gambling technologies, game producers were able to offer their customers an improved playing experience. Games brought high-quality graphics, fantastic animations and stunning sound effects, effectively becoming more and more realistic.

However, many hardcore gamblers still loved playing at brick and mortar venues, claiming that nothing can compare to the traditional gameplay. But the development of the live casino segment showed it was possible to combine two worlds into a single unparalleled playing experience.

Now, thanks to modern technologies, punters are able to stream their games in real-time. This rapidly-developing segment provides a real casino atmosphere, which is something that traditional online games cannot do. No wonder that live casino games have become so popular around the world.

Although it may seem that live dealer segment hasn’t been around much, the first such platform was introduced by Playtech in 2003, and the gambling world was mesmerised.

Gambling on the Go

A year later, in 2004, the gambling industry reached another critical milestone, which has since become an integral part of it. The first mobile casino software was launched by Microgaming, drawing the attention of punters from all over the globe, and once again showing that the company was a true leader in the business.

And as mobile devices became increasingly popular, players were able to use them for gambling whenever and wherever they liked. The trend kept on growing, and today, smartphones and tablets are widely used for gambling, with its mobile vertical generating more and more profit every year.

Almost every online casino that takes its job seriously has a mobile version, while plenty of time, effort and of course, money are put into making mobile-compatible games. Modern games are optimised to run on a wide selection of mobile and desktop devices.

Here are the most critical years in the history of online gambling:

  • 1994 – Antigua and Barbuda becomes the first country to issue a license allowing an online casino to operate from its territory
  • 1994 – Microgaming launches the first gambling software
  • 1995 – The first real money transactions made over the internet
  • 1996 – The launch of the first online casino
  • 1998 – Microgaming releases the first online progressive jackpot slot
  • 2002 – The first-ever payout exceeding $1 million awarded online
  • 2003 – Playtech introduces the first live casino
  • 2004 – Microgaming launches the first mobile casino software
  • 2014 – The first crypto payment in an online casino
  • 2016 – Microgaming introduces the first VR headset casino game

History of online gambling is fascinating, especially as has come a long way since the early 1990s. Today, it continues to rapidly grow, setting new standards and introducing new innovative technologies. There are more great things yet to come, that’s for sure, as developers continue to battle for the piece of the lucrative online gambling market.

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