For those of us who didn’t grow up with the internet, the idea of gambling on line was something that never even occurred to most people. If you wanted to blow off some steam and have the chance to win some money you would need to get dressed up, hire a babysitter and go to a casino.
The online casino industry has come a long way. For anyone who wants to see just how far, check out an example of a modern online casino over at where you’ll find plenty of games to choose from- enough to keep you entertained without ever leaving your house.
While many people assume that the United States was the first country to legalise gambling online, Barbuda and Antigua were actually the first places where online casinos began, as they allowed online operators to be licensed. Microgaming and Cytologic invented gambling and encryption software so that users of the sites could rest assured that their bank accounts were safe.
Online casinos seemed to be tricky to get legalised, but as it slowly increased in popularity, more and more websites jumped onboard- seeing the potential for huge profits. The first ever money wager was at Intercasino, and the online casino industry decided that it needed to be regulated shortly after, forming the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to keep everything above board.
While some games were relatively simple when it came to putting them online, it came as a surprise to any people when these websites managed to have slot machines on the internet, with the first slot jackpot (Cash Splash) going live in 1998. It was quickly followed with online poker, and there were more than 700 online casinos available by the end of the year, with players winning real money.
Over the next few years, the online casino industry continued to grow, showing no signs of slowing down as profits climbed to $2.2 billion in 2002. By this time US players were spending the most online, with the UK lagging behind and only allowing licenses in two territories by 2001.
By 2006, things began to sour. The UK had legalised online casinos the year before, but the United States decided that more regulation was needed and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed. Because it was now illegal for credit card companies and banks to process online gambling transactions, many international operators ditched the US and moved to smoother seas abroad.
By 2008 online casinos were pulling in an incredible revenue of $21 billion per year from players, and a few years later the number of online casinos climbed to more than 800.
However, the US continued to target the industry and in 2011 there were a few sites shut down after they found that they had violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
The online casino industry continues to grow today, with players loving the convenience of playing online from anywhere they like. It will be interesting to see where the industry goes from here.