History of Online Casinos

The history of online casinos can be said to have started in the early 1990s when several of the components of online casinos began to be put together. One of the components was that of software capability. The capability to develop software for online casinos perhaps existed before. However, it did not come to the fore because the other components were absent.

Online casinos required innumerable players at remote locations accessing the server of the online casino simultaneously. This was made possible through the proliferation of personal computers and the widespread use of the Internet. Using the software and the Internet it was possible to put together an online casino but not possible to conduct wagering. A large number of legal issues are involved with online wagering and therefore it was the essential that a legal framework be created under which online casinos operate. The first gambling jurisdiction in online casino history for the regulation of online casinos was formed in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994. The Directorate of Offshore Gaming formulated rules and regulations under which online casinos licensed by it were required to operate. Soon other gambling jurisdictions were created in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.

In 1994 Microgaming was founded in the Isle of Man. It developed the software required for online gaming and offered casino games over the Internet. However, it lacked the mechanisms for conducting secure financial transactions, which were essential for real money wagering. Cryptologic, a software company founded in 1995, had the technology for conducting secure financial transactions over the Internet but was looking for an application to use that technology. It selected online gambling as that application and the first real money casino wagering in the history of online casinos was launched in 1996. This was InterCasino, which is still very popular.

The history of online casinos was still fraught with obstacles. Gamblers were used to physical devices such as the craps dice, or the roulette wheel or decks of cards found in land-based casinos. They did not trust the software that could not be seen or understood. It took considerable effort on the part of the earliest online gaming software developers, who teamed with independent audit agencies like eCOGRA and Technical Systems Testing, to convince online players that the games were fair.

The period from 2004 to 2006 can be said to be the golden era of online casino history. Apart from Microgaming and Cryptologic, online gaming software developers like Playtech, Realtime Gaming and Odds On had entered the field and were doing roaring business. Microgaming had launched a new version of its software known as Viper and Odds On had reincarnated as Vegas Technology. At that time American players constituted the bulk of the online gaming market.

It was then that the history of online casinos suffered its biggest setback. The United States passed the UIGEA, a law that rendered online gambling illegal. The purpose of this law was to prevent terrorist organizations using online casino websites as a means to launder and transfer illegal funds. However genuine online gamblers suffered. A large number of online gambling operators and processors of funds to the online gambling industry withdrew from the American market and began to concentrate on Europe and Asia. The United States government agencies continue to treat online gambling as illegal and several complicated court cases are in progress. Despite that some online gambling operators have continued to service the American industry, which is fighting tooth and nail against the legal system.

The history of online casinos reflects that this industry has been one of the most innovative and fastest growing industries of the last decade. In the last few years several mediums for remote gambling have become popular. These include live dealer gambling and mobile gambling. The last word has not been said in online casino history and there are bound to be new pages written in the coming years.

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