Evolution of Online Gambling

Evolution of Online Gambling

Evolution of online gambling brings a deeper insight on the history of online gambling, increase of opportunities and short analysis on the UK laws and regulation.

Social practices and behaviour established centuries ago have transformed fundamentally by the widespread internet access. The online entertainment industry was one of the many industries that revolutionized dramatically by this digital age as the advent of the Internet opened unlimited possibilities and new knowledge. This kind of evolution, of course, left a significant imprint on the development of online gambling as an independent industry. Modern UK online casino sites are at the cutting edge of Internet technology covering the whole world and including hundreds, if not thousands, of large operators that serve millions of players, but even they had to start somewhere. So where did it all begin, and how did online gambling come to be such a popular form of entertainment?

Rise of the Online Casino Industry

Microgaming, a small UK company made a sensation in the world of gambling, having developed the first online casino in 1994. It was this event that became a landmark in the industry. A rookie provider later became the market leader, Microgaming today offers a wide range of software for every taste: from traditional "one-armed bandits" to contemporary games with realistic graphics and intense special effects.

The company once again proved its community-centered approach as in 2002 Microgaming created eCOGRA, an international non-profit organization that designed uniform standards in the gambling industry, certifies casinos and defended interests of the UK players.

Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean island nation, enacted the Freed Trade and Processing Act of 1994 becoming the first government to legalize online gambling. As such, it became the host for the industry pioneers.

History of Online Gambling

People play games of chance for centuries and that’s a fact. The only thing was to find a way to attract a larger audience to the establishments offering such form of pastime, given that many UK players never get to see Las Vegas or Monaco, even though their desire is beyond any doubt.

The number of the online casinos increased from 15 in 1997 to 200 in 1998, which was attributed to the increased broadband Internet access, particularly in the UK, Canada, and the US. The introduction of the progressive jackpot concept in 1998 only intensified interest in this type of entertainment.

Controversy still burns over who built the first casino, with InterCasino often stated as the pioneer. However, this site started to operate in 1996, which seem quite late for an industry that had already been in legal existence for two years. Another theory suggests that Microgaming-powered Gibraltar-licensed Gaming Club was the first site that went online and worked in a full capacity.

Many of those successful early online gambling sites were managed by veterans of the land-based industry who simply seized an unprecedented opportunity. For example, Intertops, an online sportsbook in operation since 1996, actually began taking bets via telephone in 1983. They are still running today, with more than 4000 wagering options a day to customers in 180 countries.

The biggest poker sites came along a little later as they did not have as much of the infrastructure in place. Many of these names, like Planet Poker and Paradise Poker, are no longer around. Others, like PartyPoker and PokerStars, continued on their path and became some of the most popular performers in the business.

The moment when the World Wide Web became faster and gambling sites started to catch on to the potential saw the industry booming. By 1998, the global Internet gambling industry brought in £834.4 million, and it was only going to grow exponentially from there

Opportunities for Everyone

The industry of online gambling can be described as a continuously-evolving global phenomenon covering virtually all demographic groups and countries. New releases are issued on a daily basis, while the online casinos are becoming bigger and better in terms of available settings.

Since 1994 and the emergence of this entire concept, the industry has been developing by leaps and bounds, and regulation rules around the world are changing rapidly to meet the demands of players. For example, in Europe, all persons who have reached a legal age can play online games. In the US, where an influence of terrestrial casinos is still exceptional, the process of liberalizing laws regarding the regulation of the online market is just gaining momentum.

Positive Laws and UK Regulation

The UK Gambling Act 2005 legalised and regulated the industry on the British soil, with first commercials aired on TV and newspapers speaking about the online casino entertainment. The act superseded the Gambling Act of 1968 as a response to the massive shift in the industry. The UK Gambling Commission started to operate the same year as this Act’s outcome, ensuring that casinos working under its license are completely transparent and have a fair house edge.

Technavio, one of the UK’s leading market research companies, recently announced that the expansion of the global online market until 2021 heavily depends on the easing of government regulations. With the legalisation of online entertainment, governments will increase tax revenues and increase employment opportunities.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, United States moved to ban cross-border gambling in 2006, blocking companies from offering their services to its citizens by blocking transfers of funds. Now, things are slowly starting to change, with individual states such as Nevada and New Jersey legalizing various forms of Internet gambling, and federal legislation drafts the first regulation acts.

The European Union has been more progressive in its approach to online gambling legislation, creating a series of reforms that have ensured most of its member states take a very open approach to this activity. Those rules extend to countries under its jurisdiction, such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, which is why they are such strongholds for gaming licensing and supervision.

Today, many people refer to the gambling industry as a global phenomenon. It quickly spread throughout the world and affects absolutely all age groups of the world's population. Moreover, online gambling continues to evolve and improve. UK online casinos are beginning to offer their visitors new and improved services and a wider range of available games and bonuses. Specialists prognosticate that expanding internet access around the globe and accelerated technological advancements will facilitate the online gambling industry to stay flourishing and to develop its services further. The possibilities for growth are infinite.

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