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Gambling is an activity that has been prevalent across many cultures throughout history. Based on archaeological evidence, even the earliest human societies partook in some form of gambling.
The invention of the internet has deeply impacted the projection of various things, including gambling. Although gambling dates back hundreds of years, online gambling, or iGaming, only became a phenomenon in the mid-nineties, shortly after the internet was introduced to our lives. As a result, gambling has become increasingly popular as a form of entertainment, and in many countries, the attitudes towards gambling have changed dramatically. What was once considered scandalous is now the norm.
The iGaming industry has evolved tremendously in a relatively short period of time. But how did it go from humble beginnings to becoming the multi-billion dollar industry we know today?
As mentioned, online gambling businesses began emerging in the 90s, thanks to the widespread use of the internet. The internet was, of course, responsible for transferring numerous land-based industries into the digital world. The iGaming industry was among the first to take advantage of this.
Microgaming, a prominent game developer in the iGaming industry, helped launch the first online gambling website in collaboration with Cryptologic in the mid-nineties.
In 1994 one of the first licensing authorities, Antigua and Barbuda, passed its Free and Processing Act. This Act allowed online gambling platforms to obtain licenses and open offices there. Presently, the jurisdiction is affiliated with rogue casinos. From 1996 to 1997, online gaming sites dramatically increased from 15 to 200. Since then, the number of online gambling sites has continued to grow to the point where it is difficult to predict how many online casinos are in existence accurately.
Back then, online casinos were less regulated than they are today, with nearly two dozen third-party auditing companies keeping standards in place. Due to the vast changes made over the years to benefit players’ well-being, it should be clear to see why so few online casinos have lasted the test of time.
The oldest operating online casinos today are from 1996 or 1997. That said, only a few of them are still in existence. The first actual money transaction was carried out in 1996 by Intercasino. By 1998, the iGaming industry had posted revenues worth a staggering 834.5 million USD. It was clear, though, that this trend will only go up. The very first online poker websites were also introduced in 1998.
In 1999, multiplayer gambling was introduced. Lasseter’s Online became the first to go online with its casino platform in Australia in early 1999. It became the first online gambling service to present an interactive gambling experience with a multiplayer live chat option.
That opened up communication between players and is believed to have propagated the currency MMORPG trend, an industry worth billions. With the introduction of high-speed internet at the beginning of 2000, interactive online casino platforms and sportsbooks took a more determined shape.
The trend was now becoming an international sensation, with Australia being the first nation to issue licenses for online gambling and betting platforms with secure internet transactions in 1999. Australia was awash with licensing requests worldwide to run their gambling business through Australian legislation imposed on inflowing licensees predicated on the guidelines offered by the charter established by policymakers in Australia.
In 2003 Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker after qualifying at an online poker website. This was viewed as a significant moment in the poker industry as it was clear that both the online and live worlds of poker were merging. The impact of online poker has changed the perception of poker forever.
The iGaming industry has experienced significant growth in recent years. The onslaught of the pandemic also further contributed to its growth. This is mainly due to the accessibility and convenience of iGaming platforms, which have helped made it more convenient for players to gamble from their homes. Additionally, the iGaming industry has profited from mobile technology’s popularity. An increasing number of players now use their phones and tablet devices to gamble online. That has led to a mass increase in the mobile gambling market.
The rising popularity of live dealer games is also driving the iGaming industry forward. Such games let players interact with actual dealers and other participating players in real time, making for a more exhilarating and immersive gaming experience. According to estimates, the iGaming market will reach a value of 153.6 billion USD by 2030. That would represent a CAGR of 11.7% between 2022 and 2030.
Moreover, the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region is projected to be the largest target market for iGaming, followed by Europe and North America.
As technology advances, the iGaming industry will have something to leverage for innovations. Furthermore, there are still many modern concepts to be executed in the ever-growing industry.
Author – Nerijus Grenda