For those of us who grew up with the internet and have always had the huge amount of information at our fingertips, it can be easy to assume that this was always the case, and that the online casino industry has been around since the world wide web first launched.
However, this isn’t exactly true, and few industries have had the ups and downs that the online casino industry has, although in this case it has definitely been made stronger for the experience.
Now it’s easy to get online and quickly see some of the , and the industry is worth billions of dollars every year. And with so many websites to choose from, your hardest decision may just be which game to play.
The history of the online casino industry is an interesting one, and most people agree that Barbuda and Antigua is where operators were first allowed to apply for licenses that would allow them to provide customers with online gambling. Microgaming quickly realised that this was going to be a huge success, and developed the first ever gambling software for the internet. The next problem would be making sure that customers knew that their cash was safe, so Cyptologic developed encryption protocols that ensured all financial transactions were always secure online.
The first money wager took place in 1996, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed soon after this, so that the online casino industry would have some form of licensing and regulations. Cash Splash (the first ever online slot jackpot) was launched by Microgaming in 1998, and this was quickly followed by the first ever internet poker room. As the industry gained popularity, momentum grew and by the end of 1998 there were approximately 700 casinos online for visitors to make wagers and have fun.
Online casinos were generating huge profits, and by 2002 this was more than $2.2 billion each year. The industry was the most popular in the United States, with Americans contributing two thirds of the total revenue. The UK wasn’t far behind, and many territories began offering licenses in 2001, and in 2005 the UK Gambling Act was introduced, allowing citizens to enjoy some of the most liberal legislation for online gambling in the world.
The United States was heading in the opposite direction however, and in 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act rocked the industry as credit card companies and banks could no longer legally process transactions made on online casino sites. This made many international operators pull out of the US and head to more welcoming markets abroad.
In 2008, online casinos were making a huge $21 billion each year around the world, and there were more than 865 online casinos by 2010. However in 2011 the US government shut down a number of online poker sites for violating the UIGEA. A Norwegian student won a massive £11.7 million playing in an online casino that year, and the rest was history and the industry continues to expand and grow today.