History of Online Casinos

Gambling dates back to the Old Stone Age when prehistoric humans roamed the earth. The introduction of online gaming is much more modern. In fact, the first-ever online casino wasn’t established until 1996, just six years after computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Since then, the online gambling market has grown substantially year by year, and is expected to reach $73.45 billion globally by 2024, according to Hexa Research.

The Earliest Online Casinos

Online casinos date back to 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processing Act which allowed organizations to apply for online casino licenses. Just two years later, the first-ever online casino was published on the web. InterCasino was the first casino to accept real money wagers online. Over the last 20-plus years, InterCasino has paid out more than $3 billion in winnings. The original online casino used CryptoLogic, a financial transaction software provider, to ensure secure online transactions.

In 1996, the Kahnawake Gambling Commission was formed. The licensing authority was owned and operated by a Mohawk Indian tribe in Canada and was developed to issue gaming licenses. Around the same time, leading online casino software developers Microgaming and NetEnt entered the gaming scene, releasing some of the most innovative games of the time, including slots, progressive jackpots, and a broad selection of table and card games. Internet gambling websites increased from just 15 in 1996 to over 200 in 1997.

It didn’t take long for the success of online casinos to take off. By 1998, Frost & Sullivan published a report that revealed that online gambling revenues had exceeded $830 million. When the first internet poker room opened in the same year, online gambling became even more widespread. Planet Poker introduced the internet to the game of Texas Hold’em in January 1998. This was the first real-money cardroom for online poker players that resulted in the explosive growth of online poker gambling sites.

Innovations in Online Gambling

Online casinos have experienced a number of milestones over the course of the online gambling era. The rise of virtual casinos and poker sites led to the popularity of sports betting. In 1996, InterTops became the first platform to offer sports fans a way to bet on their favorite teams. Soon after, world-renowned bookmakers like Ladbrokes and William Hill followed suit, opening their online gambling sites. In 1999, multiplayer online gaming was introduced which allowed players to gamble and chat in an interactive online environment. 

As time went on, it became more difficult for gambling websites to stay afloat. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was introduced in 1999 and was meant to prevent companies from offering online gambling products to U.S. citizens. While the Act did not pass, it did set a tone for future actions. In 2000, the first Australian Federal Government passed the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act which made it illegal for online casinos not licensed and operating before May 2000 to continue operating. Despite new regulations that restricted online gambling, online gaming players rose to over 8 million in 2001 and would continue to grow.

By 2003, there was talk between the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Broadcasters that hinted to the illegalization of online gambling ads on major media outlets. However, Antigua, which is home to many online gambling companies, challenged the ban and claimed the cease of gambling ads would be a violation of free trade agreements. The case was brought to the World Trade Organization (WTO) who sided with Antigua and Barbuda to prevent the policy from ceasing online gambling in the U.S.

Just a few years later in 2006, the U.S. banned all online gambling services which had a detrimental impact on online gambling services at the time. With the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by Congress, gambling businesses were prohibited from knowingly accepting payments for online bets or wagers based on rules and regulations published in federal or state laws. In an attempt to stop online gambling in the U.S., some states took direct action against gambling sites. Kentucky even tried to seize 141 gambling site domain names, including domains like poker.com and pokerstars.com. 

Modern Stance on Online Gambling

\While gambling in the U.S. came to a halt in 2006, elsewhere else the popularity of online casinos continued to climb. In 2010, the online gambling industry across Europe soared with operators reaching new deals with payment processing companies to ensure secure online transactions. Apple took advantage of the demand and started offering mobile gaming on products such as iPad and iPhone in 2011. In the U.S, a select number of states made online gambling legal. By 2013, online gaming had gone live in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. 

Changes and success in the online gambling world have continued in the last few years. In 2015, Microgaming celebrated its largest progressive jackpot win of more than £13.2 million. In 2016, the software development company also launched Virtual Realty headset games that use virtual reality technology from Oculus Rift. Due to the rapid advancement of technology, the look and performance of modern online casinos continue to improve. In 2018, Omnia Casino used new technology to launch the world’s very first completely artificial intelligence-built web-based casino. 

There is no denying that online gambling has had a long and interesting history. Today, there are thousands of gambling sites that attract players interested in slots, table games, jackpots, sports betting, and live dealer games. 

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