The History of Online Gambling

Even though legislation and some governments weren't exactly favorable, the online casino industry grew constantly over the course of the last two decades.

Gambling online has changed from a fringe section of an established industry to one of the biggest cultural phenomenons in the world with the goal always being to create a superior gambling experience. In order to achieve this, a complex series of networks has been established between gambling operators and clients. Things didn’t start off so complex with few people thinking online gambling would ever get the success it has. Stronger and more stable internet connections as well as better technology have all been essential in the growth of online gambling.

The first online casino came from the most unlikely of places. In 1994, the small Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda legalized online casinos and allowed operators to get licenses. This step led to Microgaming making it appearance as the first gambling software developer in the world.  

Just one year later, Cryptologic created a base for secure online transfers and the first real play online casino was launched by Microgaming in October. InterCasino got its first money wager in 1996. It boasted an offer of just 18 games. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is another development from 1996, with its goal being to establish stricter online gaming regulations.

In 1998, Microgaming launched Cash Splash, which was the first progressive slot machine. Things began to grow exponentially as during the same year the first internet poker room was created. Before 1998 came to an end there were over 700 online casinos in operation which took real money bets.

With the new millennium, online casinos were already a huge industry with revenues that came in at approximately $2.2 billion. By 2001, a number of jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Alderney or the Isle of Man granted licenses which transformed the online gaming industry into a global affair. Online gambling reached the height of its popularity in 2005, when the United Kingdom adopted permissive legislation that made online casinos easy to open and operate.

Things slowed down a bit as not all legislation was as liberal as the one passed in the UK. UIGEA passed in 2006, making the processing of online gambling transactions illegal for all banks.

By 2008, even with legislation that made operating an online casino more difficult in place, the online gambling industry registered worldwide revenue in excess of $21 billion. By 2010, over 860 casinos were online and took real money bets from clients the world over.

Another major blow for the online casino industry came in April of 2011 when the US government put in place legislation that made online poker room illegal, essentially banning them from the U.S.

Online gambling struck gold again in 2013 when mobile gambling exploded. With over $10 billion in revenue and growth in the social casino segment, the entire industry seemed to be growing despite unfavorable legislation.

By the end of 2015, online casinos are an established industry with numerous software developers creating complex and entertaining games for a world audience.

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