History Of The Online Gambling Industry


When playing our favourite games at the newest online casino today, we may not realise internet gambling hasn’t always been the way it is. In fact, long-time players know that some years ago casino sites looked nothing like they do today, with their sharp-looking 3D slots, live dealer table games, offers, etc.

Thankfully time has done gambling very well. Laws, technologies and trends have evolved, From its unpretentious modest in the mid-1990s to the dominance it has today, here is an overview of online gambling history.

Going online

Casinos were already huge long before anyone even knew what the Internet was. Later, the desire to wager money from the comfort of one’s couch existed in the 1990s, but achieving it wasn’t possible due to technological and legal constraints.

Simply put: casinos were willing, but not able to deliver an online experience.

Over the 1990s and into the 2000s, legislation changed, first in Antigua and Barbuda with the Free Trade & Processing Act, then in Canada with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. These moves to make gambling legal and fair led to a huge change. The number of online casinos quickly rose from a dozen to hundreds, and then to the thousands.

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That growth made it clear that people wanted to shift from land casinos to their desktop computer—and later on other devices as well.

Playing for money

Wagering real money at online casinos became a reality in 1995, the year when Cryptologic developed a reliable method for secure banking. Shortly after this advance, casinos like the pioneering InterCasino started carrying out money transactions.

A 1998 report from Frost & Sullivan showed that in that year online gambling revenue was above $830 million. Numbers have grown considerably since then, and are now well beyond $50 billion.

New technologies

One of the most prominent features, multiplayer, came as early as 1999. That made it possible for people to have a seat at a blackjack table and face far-away opponents. Poker also became massive and led to the creation of TV shows, and pro poker players rose to stardom.

Following technological advances, iGaming companies realized smartphones were just too good not to be a platform. Mobile slots and table games proved so popular some predictions show they may become the main platform for online casinos in the near future.

But ironically enough, even though online gambling came as an alternative to brick-and-mortar casinos, a great innovation is precisely live casinos and the traditional atmosphere they bring. This format gained immense popularity in the 2010s, and now live dealer broadcast their sessions from cutting-edge tech studios for a mix of convenience and environment.

Some milestones

It’s hard to pick the most relevant moments in the industry’s history because they are many and dependant on what you consider more important. Here are some changes that marked the history of online casinos:

  • 1994 – Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to allow gambling businesses to offer their services online to other countries in 1994. Based on that country, InterCasino was the first gambling site to receive a license and start operating, launching the iGaming industry that we have today. 
  • 1994 – In that same year, Microgaming was created on the Isle of Man, and has since risen to become one of the greatest game providers.
  • 1996 – InterCasino started accepting real money betting, which took online gambling activity to a new level.
  • 1998 – This year saw the first online poker game when Planet Poker launched its Texas Hold’Em room.
  • 2003 – The eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance was established in London to regulate online casinos operation. The eCOGRA seal has become a desirable indication that a site is secure and fair to players.
  • 2018 – Microgaming’s Mega Moolah paid out its biggest progressive jackpot win to date when an anonymous player won €18,915,872.81 on his mobile device out of a 75-cent bet.

Other milestones are harder to pin down, such as the exact moment when Bitcoin was first accepted as payment and sites became available for mobile devices. Both can be traced back to around 2012.

Reviewing the history of online gambling is not only fascinating but also insightful. Internet casinos have come a long way. And we can see how the industry has evolved to bring gaming novelties and the best technology has to offer in order to improve the player’s experience.

That’s great news for us because that shows we can expect more change for the future. Specific predictions apart, one thing is certain: if the gambling world continues evolving as it has, the future will be promising!