THE HISTORY OF ONLINE GAMBLING
Online gambling is perhaps one of the most controversial forms of gaming. For one, not only is online gambling famous to its patrons but also even to the general public who primarily deem the diversion as yet another money-wasting hoopla. Although this may be the case, the inexplicably growing population of online gamers is more than enough to prove that internet gambling has been successful all throughout its existence. Let us take a look at the four-one-one of online gambling to map out how this diversion grabbed the attention of its users and how every game became a note-worthy activity that is worth every penny.
The humble beginnings of online gambling
Although casino or gambling per se started in the late 1800s, the realization of online gambling only took place the 1990s alongside the establishment of the World Wide Web. However, since it was still a time when web surfing demands plain website coding and designing, there wasn’t much of a recorded stable gambling industry. Nonetheless, as the years progressed so did the technological interface of the internet, thus, paving the way to more graphically-pleasing sites. This development was undeniably timely to the passing of the Free Trade & Processing Act in Antigua & Barbuda, a policy that allowed the issuance of internet gambling licenses. Hence, in 1994, the world has seen the first ever gambling software developed by Microgaming and secured by a virtual software developed by Cryptologic. Following in suit was Boss Media AB, the developers of the online version of the Golden Club Casino, one of Europe’s most lenient gambling industries.
The flourishing internet casino industry
Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, pioneer internet gambling industries received favorable revenues from the time it kicked off. In the US alone it was found out that a whopping $600 million revenue was retrieved ever since the techie diversion was formally established. Worldwide, the initial revenue amounted to $1 billion. This explains the abrupt increase in the number of online sites: from a handful number of 15 sites in 1996, the number of internet gambling sites undeniably increased to 200 in just a single year. Furthermore, compared to the revenues the industry obtained from 1994 to 1997, in 1998 the internet gambling revenues from the US reached $830 million with the official release of online poker that same year. The year after, the interactive multiplayer gaming interface was created. This paved the way for a more interesting gaming experience since users were able to interact, chat, and gamble in a friendly and collaborative environment. This led to the tripling of the gambling revenue to $3 billion worldwide in 2001.
The challenges in between
Although the success of internet gambling became viral and obviously well-appreciated, the flourishing industry was still challenged in two circumstances. The first dates back in 1999 when the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was conceptualized. According to records, this regulation aimed to stub online gaming companies from accessing the American market. Fortunately, this act was not passed for not having enough evidence on how the industry can be a negative influence to the US gamers. The second impediment dates back in 2000 when the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act was passed by the first federal government of Australia. This act mandated that all of the gambling sites that were already operating before May 2000 albeit the lack of legitimate license will be closed. As a result, only Lasseter’s Online was able to operate in Australia. Despite these occurrences, the rising number of internet gamblers became inevitable. In 2001, about 8 million users were actively participating in the virtual casinos on a weekly if not daily basis.
The evolution of internet gambling software
In the turn of the century, not only did the number of online casinos and gamblers improve but also the different software these companies use. In 2001, majority of online casinos improved their platforms through the aid of upgraded software developers. Such upbeat drew more users to the industry as proven by the significant increase of sign-ups from that year onwards. As Flash became part of the internet scene, online casino sites were able to access and utilize other operating systems apart from than of Microsoft Windows. Also, this made it easier for players to directly gamble online without the need to download the game or the software that a certain site uses. Another upbeat was observed with the way casinos became multilingual. This paved the way for easy comprehension of Asian and European users. Furthermore, most of the casinos also evolved by using a multi-currency feat that ensured ease of money transactions no matter what currency their clients use. Today, virtual online casinos have even transformed into engaging detail-rich user interface. Some even have developed virtual characters that portray the roles of casino personnel and staff to make everything appear realistic.
The organization behind trusted virtual casino sites
The eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance or eCOGRA is an organization that was founded in 2003 to make sure that every client is protected from possible scams and fraudulent gambling sites. Moreover, the organization aims to safeguard online gamblers with only the most trustworthy and reliable gaming experience they ought to have. From that time on, the independent organization took an active role in casino regulation and screening. Today, eCOGRA screens, certifies, and monitors almost all of the operating gambling sites. From their legitimacy to their interface and even to the terms of services, each internet gambling site is thoroughly examined using a set of standards that ensures player satisfaction. The organization is even regarded as the benchmark of the international and growing industry.
The downside that UIEGA brings
Year after year, online gambling continued to flourish and evolve as if it was already heading towards it zenith. Nevertheless, in 2006, another controversy shook the industry with its unfavorable presence. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was formally passed by the US Congress to primarily prevent terrorist organizations in obtaining cash through online casinos. Under the said act, financial institutions’ processing and transferring of money to player funds for internet gambling have been prohibited. With this, a large portion of virtual casinos including some of the leading ones such as PartyGaming had to close their doors to US gamers. Microgaming is also one of the companies that didn’t take long enough to finally leave out the US market for good. This perhaps brought the most devastating news to both the casinos and players granting that about more than half of the gambling revenues usually come from American gamers.
The history of online gambling is truly a tale of both progression and regression. Now that certain virtual casinos have fully closed their doors to the American players, will the rest of the surviving companies end up the same? To shed hope, there are still internet gambling sites that continue to live the legacy of online gambling. As long as Realtime Gaming, Vegas Technology, and Wizard Gaming remain resilient with their operations, maybe, just maybe, the rich history of this diversion will see its more accepted and less-discriminated dawn.