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The History of Online Casinos 1994 - 2024

Online gambling is more popular than ever.

Why? Well, it's largely due to the success of online casinos, which have attracted millions of players around the world.

Now, rather than travel to expensive land-based casinos in Las Vegas, people would rather stay at home, fire up their smartphones, and play inside online casinos instead.

Simply put, online casinos and sweepstakes casinos (which use virtual currencies) are the new crowd-favourites. Over at the sweepstake casino apps review site, you can see the best sweepstakes casinos and what they have to offer, which will help you to understand why they're the latest craze.

So, if you're interested to learn more about how online casinos have reached this point and successfully taken over a competitive market, then here's an up-close historical look for you to enjoy.

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Overview: the history of online casinos

1994: the first ever online casino

Let's rewind the clock back to 1994.

During the mid-90s, only 26% of adults used a home computer. And those who did were usually doing it for work purposes or to surf the web. The concept of an online casino simply didn't exist.

However, Microgaming (a software development company) was secretly tinkering away in the background. What were they creating? The world's first ever online casino software.

Microgaming officially completed the development of its online casino software in 1994. This was then used to power The Gaming Club, which was the world's first online casino to hit the internet.

1995 - 1999: rising popularity of online casinos

Throughout the remainder of the 90s, online casinos slowly started to become popular.

The Gaming Club wasn't the only online casino you could use, including Bodog, InterCasino, and various others. Interestingly, InterCasino was the first online casino to offer real-money gambling, which (at the time) was seen as revolutionary. After all, the thought of potentially winning real money through the internet was an alien concept to most people.

There was a slight problem in the '90s, though, which was that many online casinos were struggling to break down the 'trust' barrier. Because online gambling was such a new concept, people weren't so fast to trust online casinos, but this problem was quickly fixed.

2000 - 2009: greater trust and the explosion of the online casino market

It was during the 2000s when online casinos truly started to take off.

Because worldwide internet and home computer usage was increasing, more people were starting to play online games - and they were also becoming aware of online casinos.

The availability of popular casino games in an online format, secure payment methods, and a general worldwide buzz were certainly contributors to this. Not to mention, in 2003, ECOGRA (eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) was launched, which helped to add more authority and transparency to the online gambling market.

By the mid-2000s, online casinos were everywhere and online poker tournaments (such as the ones hosted by PokerStars) took over as the latest craze. People couldn't get enough of them, which is why online gambling was quickly spreading throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and other key parts of the world.

2010 - 2014: mobile online casinos become a hit

When 2010 came knocking on the door, it was time for online casinos to evolve even further. That's right, mobile casinos were in town.

Throughout the 2010s, a lot of major online casinos made their platforms mobile-friendly, which ultimately enabled mobile users to play on-the-go. On top of this, many mobile-exclusive online casinos hit the market, too, as the growing mobile segment was too big to miss out on.

At this time, most people had 3G or 4G smartphones. This allowed them to play online casino games wherever they went, whether they were riding the subway or taking a lunch break at work. Then, when they got home, the mobile fun could continue.

2015 - 2019: online slots, megaways slots, and live casino games

In 2015, online casinos had a 24% market share of the online gambling market.

This was soon to increase even further thanks to a huge spike in popularity of online slots, with Gonzo's Quest and Starburst Slot being some of the main drivers behind it all. Add into the mix a new type of online slot, the Megaways slot (first released in 2015 through Dragon Born), then you quickly begin to understand why people were becoming slot-obsessed.

At the same time, live dealer casino games were experiencing a major boost in interest. Although live casino games had first started popping up in the mid-2000s, it wasn't until the mid-2010s when they truly started to take off, allowing people to interact with real casino dealers at home through their cameras and microphones.

2020 - 2023: rise of sweepstakes casinos

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic sadly struck.

This meant that billions of people around the world were locked down and stuck at home for months. As a result, online gaming was booming - and sweepstakes casinos were part of it.

Until 2020, sweepstakes casinos only had a small internet audience. In a nutshell, this is a type of online casino that allows you to play without betting real money. Instead, you use virtual currencies, like Sweeps Coins (SC) and Gold Coins (GC).

This unique concept appealed to lots of new players at home during the pandemic, which is why many of them jumped at the chance to play all of their favourite casino games, from online blackjack to slots, without having to worry about betting any real money.

Since then, sweepstakes casinos have gone from strength to strength, with some industry experts predicting that they will become the dominant type of online casino before 2030. For now, though, it's a case of players enjoying both traditional online casinos and sweepstakes casinos in equal measure.

2024: a global force

As of 2024, there are over 2000 (yes, 2000) online casinos available on the internet. There can be no doubt that online casinos have become a huge global force and are one of the main reasons why the online gambling market revenue is projected to reach US$107.30bn by the end of the year. From casual players to expert gamblers, everyone is welcome in the world of online casinos, so it's recommended you finally join the trend if you've not done it already.


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