With the constant advances in technology, and the fact that many of us spend the majority of our time online or, at least, staring at a computer, it’s hard to imagine a time when online gambling didn’t exist. After all, there are so many sites available where visitors can play fun games or bet on sports (check out for one of the best gambling experiences around), that it seems like online gambling must have just sprung up with the invention of the internet.
It turns out that this isn’t the case. While it’s easy to see why online gambling would be an immediate hit (who wants to get all dressed up to go to a casino when you can bet online from your couch, while wearing your pyjamas?) many governments around the world just were not impressed with the idea that citizens could gamble with the click of a button.
Surprisingly, the first licenses for online gambling were available in Barbuda and Antigua. They were quickly followed by the UK and USA, and Microgaming noticed that the software being used was ridiculously slow, so they focused on developing better software for a better user experience. The main problem was that guests were concerned that they could end up having their bank accounts cleaned out, so Cyptologic got straight onto the problem and developed the latest and greatest encryption methods (at the time) so credit card and bank information would be safe.
In 1996 the first money wager happened, amid copious amounts of applause in the industry. Someone quickly had the bright idea that the industry would need to be regulated, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was quickly formed. The idea behind the commission was to ensure that online casinos were licensed and followed the rules that the commission set out.
Online gambling subsequently exploded, and just two years later there were 700 different casinos available online. People living in the United States were huge fans of gambling online, and by 2002 the US was contributing a huge chunk f the $2.2 billion that the industry was raking in.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was soon passed in the United States. It was a thinly veiled but successful attempt to make gambling illegal, as it focused on banks and credit card companies, making it illegal for them to process transactions from these sites.
Uncle Sam kept a close eye on online gambling, and in 2011 a number of online casinos were found to have violated the UIGEA. Many of the biggest casinos left and found more welcoming countries abroad, in countries throughout Europe, as well as in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
What’s next for the industry? We can expect it to focus on mobile gambling, as more and more people use their smartphones and tablets everyday.