The Evolution of Online Gambling

Online gambling is similar to physical gambling, but the presence of the internet has made it far more accessible to every person...

Have you ever wondered what online gambling websites used to look like? How did gambling online even get started in the first place? To many people, it seems like it popped out of nowhere and was immediately popular. However, we’ll have to look back to the 1990s in order to see the start of online gambling’s history. The first government to allow online gambling was Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean country. They passed an act (the Freed Trade and Processing Act) that allowed for online casino licenses to be granted in 1994. Several very small gambling sites were created, the first of their kind.

Microgaming, also created in 1994, is a software provider that focuses specifically on online gambling. This company is still even business, selling software for many current gambling sites to use. Microgaming truly got in at the ground level, and they have been able to grow steadily along with the industry.

Now that you know the players in the early game of online casino building, we can talk about the debate over which has the first online gambling site. Many think that InterCasino built the first online casino in 1996, but that seems pretty late to be joining an industry that has already had laws passed for its existence. Another, possibly more likely, option is Gaming Club, a site made by Microgaming. The Gaming Club seems to still be in working order, and it still carries a license to operate from Gibraltar.

As online gambling became more and more popular, Canada established an organization that could issue gambling licenses for not only citizens of the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake but throughout the world. They realized that there was no point in trying to stifle online gambling; it was already apparent that it was going to be a popular pastime that could bring in a lot of revenue if handled properly. Canada created the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in 1996 in order to make sure that online gambling was properly controlled and analyzed.

Do you remember the old, slow internet connections? These are truly what held online gambling back for a few years, at least until a faster way to connect to the internet arrived. Still, this didn’t hurt the online gambling industry, only held it back from growing even more than it did it those years. Online casinos were adapting to their roles, and the websites were becoming more detailed and complex. In 1998, the entire online gambling industry as a whole brought in $834.4 million, which was a substantial chunk of money for such a new industry.

Sometimes these online gambling sites were other gambling activities that had simply adopted a new platform. This is the case of Intertops, an online Sportsbook that opened in 1996. This business had actually been running since 1983, although they had used phones to provide a way of placing bets. Intertops is still running well today, and many current gamblers use their website. They have more than 4000 sports wagers a day, and they have grown to provide services to 180 countries. Online poker games were a little harder to develop, since it needed such an immense amount of connectivity between players. Planet Poker was the first online gambling site that allowed poker games with more than one real player. They open in January 1998, but the popularity of their site never caught on.

Other early (and more popular) poker rooms were Paradise Poker, Party Poker and PokerStars. Party Poker soon became the largest online poker room in the world. Party Gaming, the parent company of Party Poker, went public as a company, and it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005.

In 2005, the USA wanted to ban cross-border gambling, meaning that online gambling companies from other countries could not offer their services to U.S. citizens. However, the courts ruled in favor of Antigua over the United States, so it did not become law. Still, other countries were uncertain of what was legal and what wasn’t, so many gambling sites shut down services to U.S. citizens. After a small change in wording to some acts, these gambling sites felt more inclined to still offer gambling to U.S. citizens. No online gambling site has ever been charged with any crimes of allowing U.S. citizens to gamble. Nowadays, more people are leaning toward the feeling that U.S. citizens should be allowed to free gamble and that this online gambling should be taxed in order to stimulate the economy.

The European Union recently agreed that European countries can still off license to online gambling companies, and these rules also extend to countries under the jurisdiction of Europe, such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.

More online gambling companies have become publicly listed and have been introduced into the stock exchange, which only further cements their status in the industry. Apart from the European Union’s decision, South Africa has also decided to allow and endorse online gambling.

The online gambling industry continues to grow, and its reach is expanding to countries that might have never allowed such avid gambling before the platform of the internet arrived. Online gambling is similar to physical gambling, but the presence of the internet has made it far more accessible to every person.

Although this is wonderful for the online companies, it also means that gambling facilities in the real world have to “step up their game” in order to compete with a new way of gambling that people might like better.