A Brief History of Online Gambling

Posted on March 4th, 2015

history online gamblingThe online gambling industry is now 21 years old, and in this time is has grown from a niche and high controversial businesse to a global, multi-billion dollar legalised  industry.

It was born in 1994, when the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act was passed in the remote Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda. While this legislation was passed without fanfare, few could have anticipated the impact that this was to have on the nature of gambling and casino gameplay. Essentially, it granted licenses to online operators with a desire to create virtual casinos, opening the door for remote gameplay and real-time interaction between players. In this respect, the Caribbean is the home of online gambling and the birthplace of a major international concern.

Over the course of the next eighteen months, several operators emerged across multiple regions. 1996 was the next seminal year for the industry, however, as Intercasino was established as the worlds’ first reliable and secure gambling website. This was enabled by the development of the inaugural and revolutionary eCash payment system, which was conceived by Cryptologic and enabled gamers to complete real-time financial transactions safely and securely. Even today, this is arguably the single most important development in the history of the remote gambling sector.

From this platform, the annual turnover driven by remote gambling began to accelerate at a considerable pace. In 1998, it was reported that online gambling had delivered revenues in excess of $834 million, despite opposition from some political movements and parties in the western world. This was a common theme over the course of the next decade, however, as rising revenues were continually threatened by prohibition acts in Australia, the U.S. and all around the world. The issue came to a head in 2006, when the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and prevented operators from transferring real money on behalf of players. During this time, two-thirds of online casinos closed while more established operators took their business outside of U.S. boundaries.

Over time, refined technologies and a seismic shift in public perception have helped to industry despite this legislation. The result of this is that the industry has been able to boom, with a growing number of U.S. states having either legalised online gambling or in the process of passing legislation. With more than 500 legalised online gambling sites currently active (the majority of which are virtual casinos) and revenue projections for 2015 fixed at $182.8 billion across all sectors of remote gaming, the industry is likely to grow at an even faster rate over the course of the next decade.


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