In 1994, the ‘Free Trade and Processing Act’ was passed in the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda. This bill permitted the island nation to grant licenses to those seeking to apply for online casino companies and businesses. So, it was not long after this that the very first online casinos began to emerge on the internet, and the online casino industry was born.
Around this time, a leading software provider for the casino industry, Microgaming, had developed the very first functional and safe gambling software. This, together with software created by CryptoLogic, allowed safe transactions to be made on the internet.
Another major contributing event came in 1996, when the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed in Canada, which aimed to established laws and regulations concerning the issuing of licenses.
Rapid Growth and Expansion
After these initial, though important, contributions, the online gambling industry saw exponential growth. By the end of 1996, a multitude of gambling sites had become operational on the internet. By 1997, over two hundred online casinos and poker websites were up and running, and reportedly earning close to a billion dollars in revenue.
In the years that followed, the explosive growth of the online industry only continued to climb, and so it was only natural that it very quickly attracted the interest of the sports betting industry. In the year 2000, Betfair, a company that operates the world’s largest betting exchange to this day, allowing for safe peer-to-peer betting online, entered the market, and within two years, created a second boom, and firmly cemented the wildly successful future of online gambling.
Apart from sports betting, online poker has always been a hugely popular form of online gambling. In 1998, Planet Poker became the first successful online poker site. Although they had their fair share of technical issues, largely due to the still developing internet technology of the time, they very quickly attracted a considerable player base. However, their fortune was not to last long, and by 1999 other poker sites, such as Partypoker, Poker Stars, and Paradise Poker had taken over, and have largely been credited with the re-popularization of poker worldwide, and major contributors to the overall growth of online casinos.
UIGEA Stops Play
In 1996, the United States Congress passed the ‘Unlawful internet Gaming Enforcement Act’ (UIGEA) making it illegal to deposit, and withdraw, money from online gambling sites. This, over the coming years, would lead to considerable uncertainty of what was legal in terms of online gambling within the country.
A large number of online gambling sites were made to either close down or deny access to US players in this period. In 2011 an extensive, nation-wide crackdown on online gambling companies saw the demise of many successful sites, such as Pokerstars, and is remembered as a dark day in the history of online gambling and come to be known as “Black Friday”.
Despite this, however, the industry continued to see major success world-wide, and has largely become the preferred form of gambling for the modern generations.