Online gambling has a checkered history with the public sentiments shifting for and against it from time to time. Gambling was mainly practiced in the form of lotteries, until it was completely banned in the US in the 1890s. It made a comeback in the late 1920s and it began to become popular once again after being legalized in Nevada in the year 1931. Las Vegas transformed into the prime outlet for people to gamble their money until the late 1970s, after which more and more casinos began to be legalized.
The history of online gambling isn’t as vast as that of physical gambling. Online gambling first made an appearance in the mid 1990s. In the year 1994, Antigua and Barbuda allowed gambling licenses to companies that applied to run online casinos. Microgaming, a major online gambling software provider, was also founded in the same year. The Gaming Club, an online casino launched by Microgaming, is considered to be the first online casino that was introduced in the world. In the year 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established. It took the charge of regulating online gambling from the Mohawak region of Kahnawake and catered to gaming license issues being faced by online casinos. Intertops became the first online sportsbook that opened its doors to sports betting enthusiasts in the year 1996. It had its offices in St. Johns, Antigua.
The main surge in popularity for online gambling came in the late 1990s as the number of online gambling websites increased from 15 to 200 in a single year. In fact, according to reports, online gambling revenues exceeded $830 million in 1998, the year when online gambling evolved as an industry. As a result, Multiplayer Online gambling and the social aspects of gambling such as player chats and interaction avenues were introduced in the year 1999.
Planet Poker was the first website to offer multiplayer poker rooms to its customers in the year 1998. However, despite being the first, it failed to capture the markets. Paradise Poker, Party Poker and PokerStars opened between 1999 – 2001. Together, these three online poker giants managed to grab the attention of the world and began to attract millions of online poker players. Party Poker emerged as the largest poker room in the world and its parent company became the first online gambling company to go public.
By the year 2000, the Australian Federal Government brought about the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act. This made it illegal for any online casino that was not licensed and operating before the month of May 2000 to operate. The number of people enjoying the benefits of online gambling rose to 8 million in the year 2001 and this number continued to rise in the following years, despite innumerous legislations and lawsuit challenges that the industry faced as a whole. Such was the growth achieved by the industry, that it managed to make a revenue of $21 billion in the year 2008. The year 2008 also saw Italy and South Africa join the list of countries to endorse and regulate online gambling as a legal form of entertainment.
Ever since the EU ruled in favor of online gambling, the growth of online gambling as an industry has been unparalleled. A number of jurisdictions such as Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and UK offer online gambling licenses.