History of Online Gambling


The history of online gambling may be short, but it is full of excitement.  Online gambling came about with a marriage of the Internet and traditional casinos.  While the parents of online gambling have been around for decades, even centuries, gaming online is just entering its teen years. 


Very simple online gambling started in 1994, when the first Internet casino opened its virtual doors in Antigua, Bermuda.  The government on this little island passed the first Free Trade and Processing Zone Act, the purpose of which was to attract technology investors to Bermuda.  It allowed for technology companies to set up a virtual shop in Antigua, where gambling was not outlawed.  Innovators saw this as an invitation to open up cyber-casinos operating, in a legal sense, somewhere on the 108 square mile Caribbean paradise.


It was also during this time that Microgaming was founded.  Microgaming was the first software developer to bring gaming fairness, transparency and reliability to online casinos.  While their proprietary programs now include management tools, they remain an industry favorite for gaming software. 


By 1995, Internet communications security and safety became a big issue and many software engineers toiled to find the first dependable solution.  Brothers Mark and Andrew Rivkin founded CryptoLogic and this security program was quickly hailed as the online gaming standard for transactional safety.  At the end of 1995, the stage was set to fire up the engines of Internet gambling much as we know it today – Cryptologic with security and money handling, Microgaming with its ability to handle real-time interactions and Antigua with its lax laws. 


InterCasino/Internet Casinos, Inc. went online as one of the first – if not the first – online casino that accepted real money wagers in October of 1995.  In addition to 18 online casino games, InterCasino also offered access to the National Indian Lottery.  The first online casino was quickly followed by 700 other online casinos within 24 months. 


On May 30, 2002, an Internet casino created its first millionaire – Tony P. cashed out with $1,594,649.  While Tony was the first millionaire made by online gambling, he is not the most famous.  That title goes to Chris Moneymaker.


Chris started gambling at a young age, playing bridge with Grandma and blackjack with Dad.  Eventually he started playing online, playing in $20 and $30 tournaments.  One tournament started out with a $39 entrance fee and 18 players.  Chris was victorious, turning $39 into a $10,000 buy-in to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.  He was the first primarily-Internet gambler to make it to the WSOP.  He eventually took home the grand prize purse of $2.5 million.  With Chris’ 2003 win, online gambling saw a sudden rise in popularity.


Two years later, mobile phone users who otherwise wouldn’t play online games, were wooed with new technology.  Internet-ready cellular phones hit store shelves in 2005.  Almost all phones available today with Internet access can connect their users to online casinos from the comfort of wherever the phone happens to be. 


Though gambling should be used for entertainment purposes only, it has made millions for online casinos as well as gamblers.  Building a casino in Las Vegas costs $300 million or so; an online casino with all the bells and whistles costs a mere $1.5 million.  Overhead for online casinos is very low – with less than two dozen employees, the office space needed and payroll costs are minimal.  The result is double or even triple-profit margins for online casinos versus land based.


There have been many changes in the way online casinos do business.  Their customer service may not be quite as friendly as the land based sort, but that, too, is changing.  With so much money to be made and spent building Internet casinos, the history of online gambling is a fluid, changing one.


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