Recent years have seen a jump in the popularity of online casinos and a constant change in how popular casino games are played, as more and more competitors enter the market and seek to set themselves apart from the scrum.

But, it might surprise you to know that the first internet casino was created way back in the dim and distant past of 1996. In this article, we’ll be looking at the roots of the online casino movement and how it has evolved since that time.

Starting Small

The first online casinos came into being far from the bright lights, glitz, and glamour of Monaco or Las Vegas. In fact, the birth of the online casino can be traced back to the tiny country of Antigua and Barbuda.

An island sovereign state in the West Indies in the Americas, Antigua, and Barbuda has a population of just 96,286 but would change the shape of the internet when it first passed the Free Trade & Processing act in 1994.

The Free Trade & Processing act allowed licenses to be granted to organizations applying to open online casinos. In response to this, the American government began to crack down on online gambling and prosecute foreign-based suppliers of online gambling services.

Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, who untimely ruled in their favor.

On the other side of the world, in the even smaller Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea with a population of just 83,314, a company called Microgaming was founded.

In 1994, Microgaming created The Gaming Club, which is considered to be the world’s first attempt at an online casino.

Less than a year later InterCasino was opened by international cash transaction company Cryptologic and the sector flourished from there.

Continued Evolution

As more and more companies entered the online casino space, the need to differentiate themselves from their competitors acted as a driver for continued development.

As with all gaming markets, players continue to want evolution and change. The same market metrics that drive the constant release schedule of games like Call of Duty and FIFA also affects online casinos because of the major crossover in that player base.

In response to players wanting faster and more exciting games, companies like Pokerstars have introduced evolutions on the traditional game, with formats such as KO poker and rapid-fire sit and go tournaments that reward daring play. This matches the current trends in video gaming, such as the polarity of multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) and the rise of Blizzard’s Overwatch and Epic Games’ Fortnite.

New technologies were also incorporated into traditional games as they became available. The surge in connection speeds allowed more and more players to play together and made finding tables to play faster and more rewarding.

Software improved at a similar rate, reducing the number of crashes and improving quality of life functions such as the user interface (UI), graphics and sound effects. While random number generation (RNG) remained the standard for most casino games, live dealer games also became available for those looking for a cross over between the bricks and mortar experience of casino play and the convenience of the online versions.

Looking to the Future

The current trend in online casinos is the transition to a mobile format, with many larger online casinos producing bespoke mobile applications for gamers who are on the move.

Even more cutting edge tech, such as virtual reality (VR) is being implemented as well, with players now able to take seats at a table in a fully realized virtual environment with people from around the globe.

With the ability to change the VR environment at will, newer casino games now have a far greater number of environments to choose from, allowing players to game in outer space or under the sea if they so wish. As players continue to be drawn to the next new thing, online casinos will continue to evolve to match that need.