If you’re serious about making money as a gambler, learning about the history of online casinos may seem like a waste of your time. While knowing this history won’t help you win it will give you a new appreciation for the online gambling industry. It will also help you put your favourite casino game in its historical context which is always useful. You’ll soon see that the more you know about the industry the richer your gambling experience will be.
It may seem that online casinos have always existed but they really only started appearing online in 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act. This act singlehandedly launched the online gambling industry. The act made it legal for casino operators to offer their services online. It also served to establish Antigua and Barbuda as a licensing jurisdiction.
Casinos could now target far more players then they had ever been able to and likewise players were given the opportunity to enjoy their favourite casino games from the comfort of their own homes. With lower overhead costs, online casinos often generate more revenue than real world casinos. They are also able to offer an incredible selection of games including online roulette, online blackjack, online baccarat, online keno, online video slots as well as live dealer games. With online casinos it soon seemed that the options were infinite contributing to the popularity of these casinos.
Soon after the revolutionary Free Trade and Processing Zone Act was passed several online software providers were founded. These included Microgaming which has gone on to become the world’s largest software provider for online casinos. Another popular software provider, Crytplogic, was lauched in 1995. They also offered an online transaction processing service as part of their offering. The first online casino opened its doors in 1995. This was opened by Internet Casinos Inc. which offered an unheard of selection of 18 online casino games.
But these humble beginnings were just that, the beginning. Soon many more online casinos started appearing online. In 1996, The Gambling Club and Intertops Casino (later known as Inercasino) were launched. The Gambling Club didn’t succeed and was soon forgotten. Intertops Casino, on the other hand, established itself as an efficient and reliable industry leader. Intertops Casino has also been credited with launching the first online Sportsbook.
Other changes in the industry included Micorgaming focusing solely on developing an online casino presence after selling all of its real world casinos. That same year, Sol Kerzner launched the first online casino which included themed games. This online casino was known as Atlantis and was licensed and regulated by authorities in the Isle of Man.
The online gambling industry continued to grow steadily. In 1998, the first online progressive jackpot was launched by Mircrogaming. This was seen by many in the gambling industry as a revolutionary move. And it seems that perhaps they were right as this industry certainly seemed to peak in 1998. A report by Frost and Sullivan from that year found that the total revenue generated by the online casino industry amounted to an astounding $834.5 Million.
But not everyone was enamoured with online casinos. In 1998, the Gambling Prohibition Act was proposed in the States. This was a major setback for online gambling in the US as if it had become law it would have made it illegal for online casinos to operate and offer services to US citizens. The bill never passed into law.
Other opposition to the growing industry came from the Australian Federal Government who passed the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act. As a result of this act, any online casinos which weren’t operating online before 2000 were declared illegal.
The US online gaming industry also faced more opposition after 9/11 when in response to the terrorist attack the US passed the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The aim of the law was to prevent terrorists from laundering money through online casinos. As a result many online casinos could no longer legally operate in the US. It’s estimated that 2,300 casinos and software providers, like Microgaming, closed their doors to American players as a result of the new post 9/11 law.
Many in the US are working to override these laws. Already online gambling has been legalized in Delaware. Also recently Texas Congressman Joe Barton and California Congressman, John Campbell proposed bills to legalize online gambling. There is, however, still a long way to go before Americans can fully enjoy the online gambling experienced offered to other players. But as the industry continues to evolve and people persistently fight to legalize online gambling it seems that change may not be too far off.
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