History of Online Casinos

Online casinos became available to gamblers in 1996, but what was required to facilitate the establishment of such a massive enterprise?

As far as entertainment goes, gambling is one of the oldest forms. So naturally, with the introduction of the internet, it followed that if we were able to communicate online, we could surely place a wager or two.

So, how did gambling at location casinos diversify to real time internet based casinos? The process started with the development of gaming software in the mid seventies, with electromechanical slots being slowly replaced by more advanced and more exciting computer software based technology. With enhanced processing capabilities and never before seen computer graphics, gamblers were enticed and mesmerised by their new virtual reality. Games such as blackjack and poker became life-like, and this formed the basis for a world in which gamblers could entertain themselves in the comfort of their own homes.

However, at this time, there was no device or mechanism in place whereby gamblers could connect to a server through their computer, and access the technology housed by that particular server. In the early nineties however, with the introduction of the internet, it soon became apparent that online gambling would be a distinct and very real possibility. If real-time communication was possible, and the sharing of information and stored content was available, it followed suit that gamblers could access and utilise gaming software and participate in real-time activity from their computers.

The only predicament at this time was a deficiency in regulatory mechanisms for the effective monitoring of online gambling operations. In 1994, the island state of Antigua and Barbuda became the first online gambling jurisdiction when they enacted the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act. The act was established to generate export-led growth for the state, away from being a one-crop economy in tourism, into a technology transfer leader. With the introduction of this act, the Directorate of Offshore Gaming was instituted for the collection, review and dispatch of online gambling licenses according to rigid criteria. Antigua and Barbuda remains one of the more popular and esteemed jurisdictions, but other states such as the Isle of Man, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, amongst others, have also enacted free trade laws that enable operators to licence themselves for legal gaming sites.

Also in 1994, a software company called MicroGaming was established in the Isle of Man, a pioneer in gambling software development. Their software, developed specifically for the online market,  initiated a surge of interest amongst operators wanting to participate in this new worldwide venture. The only obstacle at this point, was the absence of a secure platform with which gamblers could make safe financial transactions over the internet. This was soon a concern of the past, when Cryptologic, an online security software company developed an e-cash solution for internet based gambling. In 1996, Cryptologic launched the first fully operational online casino, intercasino.com.

Since 1996, it is estimated that there are over 2 500 online gambling operators, with accumulated earnings of over $15 billion. these gambling sites include casinos, sports betting sites, bingo sites and poker rooms.