History of online gambling

Entertainment has always had a big influence on the lives of people and the economy of the world. One aspect of the entertainment sector that is at the forefront of this is gambling, which is now a multi billion dollar industry. Gambling in various forms, has long been part of human civilizations for centuries. The earliest evidence of gambling can be traced as far back as 3000 BC.

In today's digital age, online gambling has become a major industry on its own. It offers entertainment, excitement, and the chance to win big for players in New Zealand and other parts of the world like Atlantic City. But have you ever wondered how it all began? Join us on a journey through time as we explore the fascinating history of online gambling. Tracing its roots from early beginnings to the global status that it has attained today and what to expect in the future!

By Amelia Smith - Updated 13/10/2023 - Estimated reading time: 11 minutes.

Table of contents

History of online gambling

Foundation of Online Gambling: Pre-Internet Era

The foundations for online gambling had been established long before the internet ever existed. The first records of gambling can be traced to dice dating as far back as 3000 BC in Mesopotamia - what is now modern-day Iraq. The dice had four sides and were made from sheep bones. This is known how casinos began, even before ancient Rome.

Gambling on games of chance, board games, and dice games served as a great way for people to make money and also socialise at the time. Alongside Mesopotamia, civilizations in Egypt and China have also been credited with early forms of gambling and wagering in various forms. Throughout casino history, gambling houses has served as a form of entertainment, a social gathering, and even a means of settling disputes.

From the Greek and Roman civilizations to medieval Europe, gambling was a popular pastime enjoyed by people from all walks of life. It is not known where the first casino was. As societies became more organised, several offline casinos and gambling houses appeared, and began to spring up. In no time, individuals had a more structured way to gamble and could engage in games like roulette, poker, and blackjack.

There are several significant gambling milestones during the pre-internet era that has led to the rise of online gambling. An example of such a milestone is the introduction of the first mechanical slot machine casino games in the 19th century. By the mid-20th century, the legalisation of land-based casinos brought gambling into the mainstream. The development of computer technology and the internet in the late 20th century turned the history of gambling around. Alas, online gambling was born.

The Rise of Online Gambling: The Internet Era

The invention of the internet in the late 20th century brought about a revolution in every industry, and gambling was not left out. The internet provided a platform for seamless connectivity and accessibility, thus paving the way for the rise of online gambling. The impact of the internet on modern gambling cannot be overemphasized.

It transformed the traditional brick-and-mortar model into a virtual landscape where players can engage in gambling activities from anywhere in the world. Apart from this, players could also engage in gambling activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The first set of online casinos sprang up in the mid-1990s. Some notable mentions are Gaming Club and Inter Casino, which were launched in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Both still exist today, although we didn’t listed them as they do not offer their services to citizens of New Zealand.

Early online gambling dens focused on creating a user-friendly interface that mimicked the atmosphere of land-based casinos. They incorporated graphics and sound effects to enhance the gaming experience with games such as video slots and card games. These platforms also introduced features like multiplayer functionality, chat rooms, and interactive elements to foster a sense of community among players. However, the early days of online gambling were not without some challenges

Challenges of Early Online Gambling

The first challenge early online gambling faced was the difficulty in establishing trust and credibility. Many people were sceptical about the fairness and security of online gambling. Another significant challenge was the lack of clear regulations surrounding online gambling. The legality of online gambling sites varied from one jurisdiction to another, and this was quite complex and confusing.

The biggest challenge came from traditional establishments and some key stakeholders. They criticised online gambling and raised concerns about problem gambling and underage participation. Critics argued that the convenience and accessibility of online gambling could increase gambling addiction and increase the risk of fraudulent activities. This is why most casinos in regulated country have strict protocols in place.

How The Challenges Were Navigated

To build the trust of players, operators had to invest more in secure payment systems and robust encryption to protect players' personal and financial information. Early online gambling operators also had to navigate through different jurisdictions and comply with varying regulations. This often led to legal uncertainties and conflicts.

Ultimately, to properly address these challenges and legal issues, early online gambling operators started working closely with regulatory authorities and governments. They worked together to establish guidelines and licensing requirements for online gambling. This is what led to the licensing and regulatory frameworks, aimed to ensure player protection, responsible gambling practices, and the prevention of money laundering. Despite the challenges of early online gambling, the industry was set to succeed.

Technological Advancements and Innovation: Post-Internet Era

Technological advancements have played a huge role in revolutionising the online gambling experience. It has enhanced the convenience, security, and overall enjoyment of online gambling for players. In this section, we will look at some of the key technological advancements that have shaped the landscape of the online gambling business.

Secure Payment Methods and Data Security

One critical measure that online casinos will be judged on was payment methods. This factor alone could make or mar the industry. The introduction of secure payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and e-wallets has made it easier and more convenient for people to gamble online.

These payment methods offer a high level of security, which has helped to build trust among online gamblers. Also to further protect players' data, SSL and TLS encryption technologies have been improved upon and are used for data protection in online casinos.

Better Experience with Improved Graphics

Technological advancements have led to significant improvements in the graphics and overall visual appeal of online gambling platforms. High-resolution graphics, realistic animations, and immersive audio effects have been incorporated to replicate the experience of playing in a physical casino. This enhancement in graphics quality has contributed to a more engaging and realistic gambling environment for players. As a result, it further improved the casino industry.

More Social with Interactive Features

The introduction of interactive features such as live chat and live streaming has made online gambling more social. This has helped to create a sense of community among players. And it has also made it easier for players to get help and support if they need it.

Live dealer games in particular have served as a very good way to bridge the gap between the experience at online casinos and land-based casinos. Players could now experience Las Vegas and Monte Carlo without leaving their homes. This could not have been made possible without the efforts of top software providers.

Mobile Applications

Even though mobile applications had been around since the early 2000s, it wasn't until the late 2000s and early 2010s that they became more popular. As mobile phones became a more essential part of people's lives, it was only necessary for every industry to try to key into that.

Online casinos also took advantage of this. They've been able to harmonise their services properly into mobile apps and mobile browsers. This made it possible for players to enjoy their favorite games on the go. The convenience of gambling with mobile devices has contributed significantly to the growth of the online gambling market.

Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on the Online Gambling Industry

It is impossible to talk about the evolution of online gambling without talking about the role that cryptocurrencies have played. The first time cryptocurrency was introduced to the general public was in 2009 when Bitcoin was launched by Satoshi Nakamoto - a pseudonymous person or group of people.

From that time till now, cryptocurrency has continued to influence the way payments are made around the world. Since the turn of the 2020s, more online casinos have become increasingly interested in adopting cryptocurrency. Only time will tell if they'll become the standard at online casinos in the coming years.

First online casino

One of the first online casinos was InterCasino.

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Global Expansion and Market Size of Online Gambling Industry

The global expansion of online gambling has been remarkable. The industry is experiencing significant growth and reaching more audiences worldwide. Let's delve into the overview of this expansion, the market size, and the key regions and countries driving this growth.

Overview of the Global Expansion of Online Gambling

Online gambling has transcended geographical boundaries. This has allowed players from different countries to participate in a wide array of gambling activities. As a result of this, numerous gambling operators have emerged. Some are truly global, while others target specific regions and markets. These operators understand the laws and nature of the markets in which they operate, and they design products that suit the market.

Market Size and Revenue

The market size of the online casino industry has witnessed significant growth in recent years. This is fueled by internet penetration and the advancement in technology. One cannot also overlook the influence of the Covid 19 lockdown on the increase in the market size of the industry. The revenue generated by the industry runs into hundreds of billions of dollars. The revenue generated by the industry comes from various sources. Some of which include online casinos, sports betting platforms, online poker rooms, and others.

Key Regions Driving this Growth

Several regions and countries have played a crucial role in driving the growth and expansion of online gambling. Here are some notable regions and countries:

Europe: European countries has been at the forefront of online gambling, with countries like the United Kingdom, Malta, and Gibraltar serving as major hubs for online gambling operators.

North America: The online gambling market in North America has experienced significant growth, with the United States and Canada leading the way.

Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific region has seen a surge in online gambling activity. This is driven by increasing internet penetration and the popularity of mobile gambling. Countries such as China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have emerged as key markets in the region.

Other regions such as Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, have also seen growth in online gambling. Albeit with varying degrees of regulatory restrictions and market potential.

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The history of online gambling dates back to ancient civilizations and has evolved into a global industry in the digital age. The pre-internet era laid the groundwork for online gambling, with milestones like the invention of the first slot machines and the legalisation of land-based casinos. The rise of the internet in the late 20th century led to the birth of online gambling platforms, offering convenience and accessibility.

Technological advancements, such as secure payment methods, improved graphics, and mobile gambling apps, have enhanced the online gambling experience. Cryptocurrency has also made a significant impact by providing enhanced privacy and security. The global expansion of online gambling has led to significant market size and revenue generation.

The future of the online gambling industry is worth looking forward to. The industry's future trends include increased legalisation, the adoption of emerging technologies like blockchain and virtual reality, and personalised gambling experiences. The online gambling industry will only get better as it continues to adapt to technological advancement and navigate the challenges that it faces.

Author: Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith knows a lot about different areas of gambling. She's been our main writer for most things since 2019. She spoke at a big conference in London in 2022 and has been recognized at several industry events.

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Article published 28/03/2019

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