How Online Gambling Has Evolved
Learn everything you need to know about the evolution of online gambling over the years. Our guide provides you with a complete online gambling history.
Online casinos are ubiquitous, with hundreds of them adorning the virtual landscape. The question however is how many players know anything about online casino history – the new frontier in entertainment? For example, the very first country that regulated online casinos was Antigua and Barbuda (Caribbean). According to the Terms of the Free Trade and Processing Act of 1994, online casinos were established in these territories and they were allowed to offer gambling services to all other nations.
But the real challenge was not simply passing legislation to allow online casinos to operate, it was providing the gaming platform and the games to entice players to sign up and play. Hence, software companies began springing up around 1994 – notably Microgaming. This is one of the industry giants and it remains at the forefront of casino games development for the online gaming arena. To date, Microgaming has created over 600+ casino games and they are all featured at the world's premier online casino sites. New casino games are being added each and every year to the Microgaming archives, thus helping this company to stay ahead of the competition in the fiercely competitive casino world.
Many online casino buffs believe that the first online casino that began operations was InterCasino. Folks also believe that 888 was possibly the first online casino to begin operations on the World Wide Web. The fact of the matter is that both InterCasino and 888 were established long after the regulations for the sites were set up. Therefore there is some doubt as to precisely which casino was first to operate in the online world. It is generally more accepted these days that one of Microgaming's very own casinos – Gaming Club – was the first casino to open its doors for business.
With the successful licensing and regulation of online casinos in Antigua and Barbuda, multiple other territories began compiling licensing standards to regulate online casino gaming within their jurisdictions. One of the most notable of these is the Canadian Mohawk territory of Kahnawake which in 1996 began regulating online casino operations. This jurisdiction is widely considered to be among the most prestigious gambling licenses that an online casino can have. Other territories which now offer gambling licensing and regulation include the Channel Islands, Cyprus, Curacao, Gibraltar, and Malta.
Since the launch of Gaming Club Casino, multiple online casinos sprang into existence. While precise figures are not available, it is estimated that some $840 million in revenues alone was generated during 1998. The limitations of technology at the time were a hindrance to more people signing up to play online casino games. For example most people's Internet connections were dial-up; this was simply not conducive to high tech online casino games. Additionally, players have been reluctant to download online casino software for fear that it contains viruses, malware and the like. Fortunately, broadband Internet transformed the virtual landscape and boosted the numbers of players at online casinos worldwide. The introduction of mobile casino gaming in the past 5 years has led to exponential growth and interest in online casinos.
Many online bookmakers with phone betting services quickly cottoned onto the idea that there are many opportunities for profit-making in the mobile sports betting business. As a result online casinos, online poker rooms, online sports books and the like began springing up everywhere. One of the most notable of these is Intertops – launched in 1983 as a phone betting enterprise. Today, Intertops ranks among the crème de la crème with over 4000 sports bets available to punters each and every day in some 180 countries around the world.
When it comes to poker sites, the complexities involved in setting up the networks were immense. Since poker is a game of interaction among players, dial-up Internet precluded much of this from happening. This is evidenced by the fact that Poker Planet (the first online poker room) ironically had to fold. By the early 2000's, one of the world's biggest online poker rooms was born – PokerStars. Paradise Poker and Party Poker soon followed, and Party Poker became so successful that it was listed on the LSE in 2005. Unfortunately, their exit from the USA market and the legal problems they've been facing has resulted in them losing business in the highly competitive online poker world.
With reference to the Party Poker case, it was around that same time that the USA government imposed a ban on all online gaming activity that was not based in the country. Subsequently, a court ruling made clear that this law would not be upheld at the highest level. As a result, lots of confusion ensued as to the legality of online gambling, but many operators simply opted to withdraw from the US markets just the same. In fact, nobody has ever faced prosecution for providing online gaming services to American citizens, and the general movement nowadays is that people feel that it should be legalized, regulated and welcomed. The revenues that stand to be generated from online gambling in the USA are seen as big money makers for the US government.
There are several other countries that have moved to legalize online gambling and regulate it completely. These include South Africa and the European Union. But the good news is not universal as Russia decided in 2010 to ban all forms of online betting.
The maturation of the online gambling industry has resulted in several large casinos being listed on stock exchanges around the world. There is by far a much greater tolerance, acceptance and credibility attached online casino companies now than at any point in their past. The threat of fraudulent activity, money laundering and scams has been greatly diminished by the strict regulatory framework that has been established to police the online casino industry.
The widespread growth and development of online gaming has been a boon to players, because traditional and online casinos have had to improve their offerings to keep players coming back for more. Billions upon billions of dollars are now being invested across the world from Las Vegas to Macau to improve casino game offerings, facilities, accommodations and the like. This has certainly been helped tremendously by the advent of the online casino era.