| How did online casinos first
become popular as an industry?
Recently, online casinos have taken the world by storm with more and more nations now allowing this form of
gambling. Referred to as iGaming, the activities made available at online casinos are nearly identical to those at traditional physical casinos. The only
difference is that you can enjoy them without leaving the house. In this article, well discuss how online casinos first came about and what has allowed
them to become so popular.
Casinos and gambling: A brief history
The popularity of
online casinos has grown exponentially. You cant move around the internet without seeing articles
listing the top 10 online casinos or new slot releases, but this wasnt always the
Gambling as an activity, however, has been around for a very long time. There is evidence that it has been enjoyed since the Roman Empire, but it
was the Wild West that really brought gambling games into the mainstream.
The 1990s: The dawn of the
As soon as the internet became more commonplace, people were looking at its different uses. The gambling industry became one of the
first industries to move online. Online casinos began launching in the mid-1990s, which is astonishing when you think about how few people had internet access
in those days.
Compared to the standards today, the games themselves were crude. However, they worked well for the era. As you can imagine, this time
was pretty unregulated, as new as it was.
The Free Trade and Processing Act 1994
days, licensing is one of the first things people look for when searching for a new online casino. The casinos license matters. When online casinos first
started, it took a while for regulations to catch up. The first license for online casinos was introduced in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994. This happened thanks
to the Free Trade and Processing Act. As such, 1994 is seen as the start of the big rise in online gambling.
Youd be hard-pressed to find an online casino player who has never heard of the iGaming software giant
Microgaming. This software developer began their work in 1994 in the midst of the first boom in online casinos.
When the first online casino was opened
in 1994, it was Microgaming that led the way. This casino, called The Gaming Club, is still operational. As you can imagine, however, it has gone through
significant changes since its inception.
Online payments became possible
until 1995 that online payments became possible for the first time. This was down to CryptoLogic. This company revolutionised how real money transactions took
place over the internet and made it easy for players to bet in real cash.
The first online casino to accept real money bets was InterCasino, an online
gambling platform thats still in existence today. This online casino was launched in Antigua by an Ohio bookmaker named William Billy Scott.
The first real money bet took place here in 1996.
The creation of progressive
Progressive jackpots seem to be a new phenomenon. However, the first one to be introduced was Microgamings Cash Splash in 1998. It
was a classic three-reel slot game with a single payline. The symbols were cherries, 7s and bars. These days, a more modern version of the game exists. It has
15 paylines and five reels. Youll notice that Cash Splash pays out its jackpot every couple of days.
It wasnt always easy: Internet gambling bans
Despite the rise in popularity of iGaming and the internet, not all countries
have been open to the idea of online gambling. In 1999, the US proposed the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which proposed the banning of internet gambling.
Though this bill did get passed by the Senate, the House didnt pass it. However, in 2006, the SAFE Port Act was introduced. This time, almost all online
casinos were prevented from operating in the US, which was a real blow to the industry.
Nowadays, however, more and more states are revising their laws
to allow players to experience online casinos.
A generation later
Those of us who grew
up alongside the internet, are now reaping the benefits of online casinos and all they have to offer. More and more new online casinos began popping up in the
early 2000s. With them, the competition grew and bonuses, loyalty schemes and new games were developed.
Though most people who used online casinos
during this time were those who enjoyed real gambling at brick-and-mortar casinos, there has been a rise in people visiting online casinos for their first
Impact of COVID-19 on online casinos
It wasnt until
physical casinos were forced to close in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic that online casinos saw their biggest boost yet.
Google search trends showed that in 2020, search interest in online casinos was at an
According to data from the
Commission, most gambling (96%) is now done within the home. The niche area of esports gambling has also seen huge growth too, particularly among young
The future of online gambling
The activities we engage with at online casinos are
constantly evolving. New technologies mean that there is always something
new to explore. Most people are pretty certain that virtual reality (VR) will become a mainstay in online casinos. Naturally, youll need a VR headset to
take part in these online gambling games, but as the technology develops, its expected that online casinos will adopt it more and more.
Weve already seen the initial impact of cryptocurrencies on the online gaming industry. Yet, using cryptocurrencies as online payments is still
very niche and not very widespread. However, theres likely to be a rise in this sort of betting as more and more people begin to understand
cryptocurrencies and how they work.
Online casinos have a long and interesting history and their future
It was almost inevitable that casinos would become popular online. The industry lends itself really well to screen play. Since
people were forced to abandon physical casinos amid COVID-19, they got a taste of the online casino world and they liked it. Could this mean the end of
physical casinos for good? Who knows.