When he invented the World Wide Web in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee had no idea of the cultural impact his invention would have on the Information Age. Now, with over 4 billion active internet users and 130 trillion individual pages, the internet has not only transformed traditional industries, but has spawned new ones. For example, the rise of the web has led to online casinos becoming one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment in the world.
The History of Online Casinos
Much of the history of online casinos can be traced back to 1994, when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act, allowing the Caribbean nation to grant licences to companies looking to start online casinos. Although it would be 2001 before the UK legalised online gambling and 2005 until the United Kingdom Gambling Act was passed, the wheels of regulation had been set in motion across the world.
Due to this, a number of online software companies also emerged in order to secure customer transactions and increase security. Other software companies also came to the fore in order to diversify the product offering. By the late 1990s, this meant players had the choice of multiple games, such as blackjack, poker and roulette. By 1999, multi-player gaming was also introduced, meaning players could not only gamble, but also chat and interact with each other, providing a traditional casino environment.
These technological improvements across the late 1990s and early 2000s changed the landscape for customers and altered betting habits, much like scratch cards had to traditional gambling.
Additional security provided for transactions and the diversification of the product offering, which allowed online casinos to boom as new providers flooded the market, with online gambling now appealing to a mass audience. This increased choice and availability was good news for customers, as providers began to offer bonuses such as the casino offers at Aspers.com, which include matched deposits and free spins.
From here, we also saw further industry developments that coincided with continuing technological improvements. For example, the creation of the iPhone and other smartphones led to the advent of mobile gaming, while cross-platform services, live casinos and virtual reality games all became possible, with each having its own unique impact on the industry.
As a result of these developments, in 2016, statistics body Statista estimated that the size of the online gambling market was $45.86 billion and predicted that this figure would reach $94.4 billion by 2024.
What’s the Future of Online Gambling and Online Casinos?
In the coming years, many analysts predict that the gambling industry will continue to capitalise on new technologies to introduce even more games. Particularly, many providers are now looking at developing virtual reality offerings, which may also be introduced into the ‘live dealer’ marketplace, allowing customers to have the feel of being in a casino without them needing to leave home.
Likewise, cryptocurrency payments are also tipped to become a mainstream payment method, providing customers with greater security over their payments.
With the online gambling industry expanding from a few websites and providers to a $45 billion annual business in only 20 years, and with competition among providers greater than ever before, it’s exciting to see what direction the new technology will take the market in.