Since the first casino opened its doors in Venice (Italy) in the early 1600s, gambling has become a mainstay not only in Europe but on a global scale. The industry reached new heights in the mid-1990s, however, with the introduction of online casinos. As a result, online gaming is now more accessible and widely consumed than ever before. Continue reading to familiarise yourself with a brief history of the growth of the online casino industry.
A Slow Start (The 1st Casino Online)
Whilst details are a little hazy, the first online casino was thought to have launched in 1996 by InterCasino. During this time, the internet was still in its infancy. As a result, it took a number of years for the phenomenon to really take off. Microgaming, one of the first casino software developer giants to still exist today, also launched one of the first online casinos with the help of Cryptologic. This occurred around the same time that Antigua and Barbuda passed its Free Trade & Processing Act which allowed online gambling websites to acquire a license and set up shop in the Caribbean nation.
An Online Gaming Revolution
One of the major milestones in the history of the online casino industry was the formation of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in 1996. Responsible for licensing and regulating the vast majority of online casinos, online poker rooms, online sportsbook platforms, and three land-based poker rooms, it was established with the goal of issuing gaming licenses to more online casinos. Due to this new gateway, online casinos were cropping up all over the world. By the end of 1996, there were an estimated 15 online gambling platforms in operation.
As 1997 came to a close, however, that number had multiplied to over 200 with annual revenues nearing $1 billion in total. With more players than ever before now gearing up to take advantage of the latest free spins offers that online casinos had to offer, it sparked the birth of the online casino industry that would continue well into the 2000s. Whilst online casinos were still few and far between compared to today’s standards as the 1990s came to a close, an online gaming revolution was brewing.
The Introduction Of Sports Betting
As online casinos were undergoing a series of rapid changes to keep up with demand, the world of online sports betting was set to be the next big thing. In a somewhat natural progression, online casinos started offering sports betting for existing as well as new customers with the first platform introduced in 1996. InterTops was something of an immediate success. With players now able to wager on their favourite sports teams, and players, from the comfort of their own homes, the only way was up for the online casino industry.
In the years that followed, a number of sports betting companies cemented their place as industry giants with William Hill and Ladbrokes establishing their own online domains. With the world of online sports betting still very much in its infancy, a number of platforms offered a series of bonuses as well as cashback offers to encourage consumers to get involved.
The Online Poker Explosion
With online casinos in the 2000s offering a wide range of online gaming options for players, the online poker explosion came as something of a surprise. Although the first online domain dedicated to the art of poker was established in 1998, slow dial-up internet speeds and rudimentary technology made it a less-than-pleasant experience for players. But the industry quickly recovered with the introduction of Planet Poker, partypoker, and PokerStars. As some of the biggest names in poker today, the online poker industry as a whole is now estimated to be worth a staggering $92.9 billion US dollars by the time 2023 rolls around.
The Future Of Online Casinos
Whilst the online casino industry has suffered its fair share of scandals and blows over the years, it continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Despite its prominence in Europe, the US is following suit by continuing to gradually legalise and license online casinos on a state-by-state basis. With a number of global poker tournaments, such as the World Series of Poker, also taking place online, the future looks bright for the online casino industry.
The online casino industry has undergone a series of bumps in the road to get to where it is today. But as one of the fastest-growing and most profitable industries today, it is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.