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Posted on: 21 April, 2021

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the History of Online Gaming

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We're going to look at how people began connecting online from the time the first version of the internet connected a small community of people with a shared interest and how that's lead the gambling industry to become a multi-billion dollar industry in 2020.

The history of online gambling

The internet has paved the way for online businesses. The gambling industry has been revolutionised. There are thousands, maybe millions of online gambling sites in every country around the world. These range from sports betting to casino games. The Romans enjoyed gambling, that’s how far back it goes. They even inspired many game developer to create Roman inspired slot games. The real introduction into the mainstream is when cowboys began playing poker and Vegas casinos opened up their doors to people to play blackjack and roulette. Now you don’t have to get on a flight to put on a bet, all you need is your smartphone.

Online gambling in the 90's

Early 90's

The first online gambling sites began popping up online in the early 90s. The internet was experiencing inevitable commercial success. A lot of previously physical businesses were going virtual and this was a prime opportunity for gambling. The first instance of an online casino was in 1994. Strangely, no one can tell us which casino it was and if it’s still in operation now. All we know is Microgaming was responsible for the development and launch of the first known online gambling website which was in partnership with Cryptologic. It was during a time of legal change which meant online gambling sites could acquire an office and launch from Antigua and Barbuda.

Late 90's

In just one year, from '96-'97, online gambling sites grew from a total of 15 to 200. Popularity soared and the industry has only ever grown since. Games were rudimentary at the time, as you’d expect. But they were good enough for the time. There was much less regulation and less frequent policing. You’ll find a lot of the pioneering online gambling sites don’t exist today because they couldn’t stand up next to the now strict regulations. The late 1990s saw the rise of online poker sites. Now the online casino industry was worth around $800 million. Multiplayer gambling became available online just before 2000 and the introduction of interaction between players is what helped grow MMOGs into the billion dollar a year industry.

How online gambling looks today


There have been many sites that have left a lasting impression on the online gambling industry. Some grew and evolved and some lost touch and failed. Those who remain adopted the latest technology as well as adhered to the regulations and are thriving. They offer the most optimised and user-friendly sites and apps. Those playing 20 years ago would be amazed at the detail in the graphics of today. The functionality the software offers the players. The range of themes and the vast categories of games on offer. The range you get today is mind-boggling and still growing. Imagine telling someone before the internet was invented that they would be able to play a real-money game of poker from the comfort of their own sofa? And by using a device with no wires and a 7-inch screen they could touch – they’d probably call you mad.

Early 2000's

Come the early 2000s, though, new developers and operators were popping up all over the internet. The market was highly competitive. So, welcome offers became more attractive, bonuses got bitter, loyalty and VIP schemes evolved and online gambling providers were constantly competing to make their site better than the next. Which was great for the users! This was spawned progressive jackpots. Multiplayer games had particular development attention. Themed slots grew in choice and live casinos became the new thing. The more people flocked online, the more the operators had to offer a unique casino experience that was authentic and exciting. This is when we began seeing more mobile casinos. The rise of smartphones allowed players the ultimate freedom to play their favourite games wherever they liked. iPhone users found this a dream come true.

Online poker

Those who benefited most from the mobile experience were poker players. The more practise they could get, the more chance they had of getting into the World Series of Poker. If they won, they’d walk home with millions of dollars. The WSOP is now the biggest online tournament you can enter. Online gambling, as an industry, continues to generate billions of dollars every year. Many countries are reluctant to regulate it, still. There are some close associations between land-based casinos and legislative bodies. These countries don’t want to get involved or be shut down. This will happen eventually as we see more legislation of online gambling. The market was worth around $57.3 billion in 2019-2020 and only the best, but most reliable and regulated will get a slice of that.

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