The origins of online casinos can be traced back by using 3 key milestones. The first one is the rise and eventual peak of game software. From the mid 1970’s gaming software began to surface in conventional casinos. It was at that moment that software replaced traditional mechanisms of slot machines, which incidentally were capable of displaying graphics and features the same as on a computer. The first software for blackjack was developed by card game professionals in the 70’s. The software for games of chance was the first piece of the puzzle, at the time however they realized they needed additional improvements.
The internet as a key factor of development
The only thing missing at that time was a mechanism to facilitate different computer users connecting to each other in an easy and efficient way. Multiplayer games would’ve been possible using a system of interconnected servers. The emergence of the internet solved this problem, especially when it exploded into the mainstream at the beginning of the 1990’s. Prior to that, the internet was used as a means of communication. Users would log into the internet from their computers to use chat functions or bulletin boards, which were extremely popular at that time. A few more years would pass before the true value of the internet was realised, the internet could provide much more in terms of the potential for technological advancement and would further be integrated into our daily lives.
The first regulations governing online betting games
The third factor that played a key role in the evolution of online casinos was the introduction of a formal legal framework that was recognised by the authorities. This occurred in 1994 in the tiny state of Antigua, where the first ever agreement was signed. The ‘Free Trade and Processing Act’ made it possible for it to issue official licenses. Thus the first online gaming jurisdiction was created.
It was under the same act that the general management for games was founded. This organisation received application requests, reviewed them thoroughly and distributed licenses to conventional casinos that met legal requirements. The territory of Antigua still remains a reputable and well known authority to this day. This law is a small part of the founding element of online casinos as we know them today.
The emergence of online casino pioneers
Now that the three processes had been established, all that was left was for them to be connected. Microgaming was one of the first and true pioneers of this. They are a software provider that is based in the Isle of Man and was founded in 1994 and were the first to have developed software specifically for online use. Although at this point online games were already becoming a huge success, they lacked one of the most important elements that would eventually make them insanely popular, and that was security. Cryptologic is the name of the organisation that initiated the conception of a system enabling the verification of financial operations on the internet. It was founded in Ireland in 1995 and was the first organisation to develop an application for virtual transactions. Cryptologic was therefore able to establish the first online casino that the world had ever seen by connecting these factors with each other and in 1996 ‘Intercasino’ was created.
From then onwards the online games industry has experienced continuous progression, the estimated number of online casinos is at around the 2300 mark and also include virtual poker rooms and sports betting sites. The total revenue of all the worldwide casinos sits at around 15 billion dollars a year.