Beginning

Can you imagine your life without internet? In the modern world we live in, the thought of living without this miraculous invention is almost impossible. There is a generation of people that has never lived in a world without it. We run our businesses on the internet, rely on it for communication and we even use it to shop online.

The World Wide Web has had a dramatic effect on many industries but especially one in particular, the gambling industry. It started with humble beginnings and grew into a billion dollar industry at a very rapid speed. Anyone that has a internet connection can now spin the reels, place wagers on sports betting or play poker on all corners of the earth because there are hundreds and hundreds of online gambling operators that offer a wide variety of services.

==WHERE DID IT ALL START?==

In 1994 the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed it’s Free Trade and Processing Act. This meant that companies could obtain licences to provide gambling services over the internet. It’s hard to believe that the first step was only 14 years ago considering how the industry has grown since then.

Although it is debatable, it is believed that Microgaming was the first company to offer real money online gambling services, The Gaming Club. CryptoLogic owned InterCasino and also played a massive roll in the early days of online casinos. Both these companies contributed immensely to the development of technology and financial systems. As you can imagine, casino enthusiast were sceptical of online money transactions because it was new and this is where CryptoLogic played a key role.

If you owned a PC in the early 90’s, you will be able to imagine what the first online casino games were like. The options of games were limited and the software was very different from what you know today. But, at that time it was new technology and incredibly impressive. When the trend started to take off, more companies opened their virtual doors and over time online casino sites became much more advanced.

It became very popular, very quickly and this led to immense competitiveness. Every operator wanted to be bigger and better. This however was good news for players across the globe because online casinos started to offer bonuses and loyalty programs. Operators also worked tirelessly to improve the software and and to add new features. Themed slots, progressive jackpots and multiplayer games are a few reasons why the online gambling industry earned such instant popularity.

Although players enjoyed this revolution in the gambling industry, they still yearned for the excitement of land-based casinos and because of this, live casino games appeared. This gave players the opportunity to watch live video streams of dealers and croupiers in real time. When it was launched, it was a instant success and still is today. Many players prefer live casino games over graphic-based games. It is the best of both worlds. You can play in the comfort of you own home against real players and real dealers.

Then technology grew even more and people started to use their smartphones to run their daily lives. And, because of this online casinos made their games mobile compatible. This means that you can play your favourite games from anywhere. The online industry is still advancing at a rapid speed and the next step is believed to be virtual igaming.

==ONLINE POKER==

Planet Poker was the first online poker site to be launched in 1998. It was incredibly popular even though players had difficulties due to the dial-up connection that was the only option available in those days. Other online poker sites soon followed and seemed to be more successful than Planet Poker. A interesting fact is that the rake levels that was initially set by Planet Poker are still the industry standard today.

In 1999 Paradise Poker became the market leaders. The site was more advanced and stable and grew rapidly. They offered a wider variety of games like Omaha and Seven Card Stud.

In 2000 Dutch Boyd, who was a poker professional at the time, launched a site called Poker Spot. The site was offered tournaments for the first time ever but had major issues with processing customer payments which led to it’s downfall in 2001.

And then came two sites that were to become massive game changers: PartyPoker and PokerStars. PartyPoker started to run tournaments whereby players could qualify for live events. It was a first in the market and was incredibly popular. In 2002 televised poker lured in more poker enthusiasts thanks to the cameras that allowed viewers to see the hole cards. PartyPoker took advantage of the opportunity and advertised on the televised shows which led to them becoming market leaders. Then PokerStars, who was already successful at the stage, launched the World Series of Online Poker (WSOP).

In 2003 Chris Moneymaker won entry to the WSOP by playing in a $40 tournament at PokerStars. He won the tournament as a amateur poker player turning the $40 into $2.5 million. This massive win is described as the online poker boom because suddenly poker players across the globe realised that it is possible to win massive amounts of money by playing this game.

==SPORTS BETTING==

Online sports betting took off shortly after the first online casinos launched. The first company, Intertops, was established in 1996 and soon others followed. Gamblers around the world was placing wagers on sporting events and it became popular very quickly. Many existing online casinos added this option to give players a wider variety.

Bonuses, free bets, enhanced odds and cash back offers became commonplace and the range of wagers increased at a rapid speed.

Betfair opened in 2000 and allowed customers to place bets among themselves. Peer to peer betting was introduced for the first time and became a massive success. In 2002 live betting was introduced which meant that players could place wagers on events while it was happening and this was soon followed by mobile betting.

Online gambling is convenient and easy and offers a unlimited amount of options for any type of player. And with the growth of new technology, you can only wonder what the next big in this billion dollar industry will be.