Online casinos are everywhere now, with literally hundreds of them available to players around the world, but how many people know about the history of this relatively new form of entertainment? The first country to recognize the potential of online casinos, as well as to regulate them, was Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean, which passed the Free Trade Agreement and the Processing Zone Law in 1994. This allowed casinos to establish themselves in its territory and provide betting services to other countries.
However, before anyone could play at these casinos, the games had to be developed, and a few software companies were born to do just that. One of the most notable was Microgaming, who began marketing in 1994 and continues to do so to this day. They now have more than 600 casino games, which are used by the biggest casino sites, and they are always developing new games.
It is often thought that the first online casino was InterCasino, with 888 closely following it, but given that both casinos began operating long after the rules and regulations for such sites were developed, it is unclear whether this statement is true. A more likely contender for the title of top online casino is Gaming Club, a site run by Microgaming and still operating today.
Following the success of Antigua and Barbuda, several other territories began to develop their own licensing standards. In 1996, the Canadian Mohican territory of Kahnawake passed laws regulating online casinos operating outside their territories. Other places that issue licenses include Gibraltar, Malta, Channel Islands, Curaçao and Cyprus.
A few years after the launch of Gaming Club, there were a wide variety of online casinos in existence, generating $ 843 million in revenue during 1998. But technological limits prevented players from joining, with old dial up connections being the main problem, given that many people did not want to download software to play. The launch of broadband internet has transformed this, and casinos can now provide high-quality games that run smoothly and without the need for the player to download software to their computer. Mobile networks have also transformed in the last five years, with a corresponding growth in casinos that allow players to use phones and tablets.
Some high-net-worth bookmakers as well as companies providing a telephone betting service quickly realized the opportunities offered by going online and opened casinos, poker rooms, and bookmakers. Among them is Intertops, which was launched in 1983 as a telephone betting company. They now have one of the largest online sites, with over 4000 sports bets offered daily for customers from 180 countries.
Poker sites were a bit more problematic in the early days, as connecting all the players together was more than dial-up connections could handle. The first online poker site , Poker Planet, was not very successful, and it was not until the early 2000s that sites like PokerStars, Party Poker, and Paradise Poker began to establish themselves. Party Poker was so successful that its parent company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, although since then they have lost sales as they had to exit the American market due to the legal issues that all online gambling companies they faced each other that year.
That was the year the US government decided to ban all online gambling that was not located in the United States.
Other countries have fully legalized and regulated online gambling, including the European Union and South Africa. However, not everything is in favor of casinos, given that all types of online gambling were banned in 2010.
The entire industry is maturing more and more, and the big casinos are listed on various stock exchanges throughout the world, with a growing acceptance that this is just another form of entertainment that is here to stay. When there are strong and well-enforced rules and regulations, the potential for damage and fraud is reduced.
Billions have been invested from Las Vegas to London to Macau, giving players even more options on where to play their favorite games.