Casinos can date their history all the way back to sophisticated gaming parlours in the seventeenth century, frequented by the highest stratum of French society. Even in recent memory, the idea of a trip to the casino would conjure up images of Monte Carlo and bow-ties and evening dresses.
The world has changed a lot in a short period of time, and today casinos are accessible to everybody. Not only that, but they are available at your fingertips, since you can log on to play at your favourite mobile casinos from your smartphone in seconds, no matter where you are.
The History of Online Casinos
The very first online casino appeared in the mid 1990s, courtesy of a name that regular players will be very familiar with. Microgaming lay claim to having launched the first online casino back in 1994, albeit quite a primitive casino when compared to the modern casinos available today. Of course technology had a way to go before internet based casinos would become the phenomenon that we know today. Back in the mid nineties not all that many people even had access to the internet, and the concept of making online payments was a very alien one. In fact Microgaming’s first casino was only possible thanks to software provided by CryptoLogic, which made online transactions secure, and paved the way for what was to come.
As the 1990s progressed, more and more companies began to see the benefit in what online casinos had to offer.
There were only 15 online casinos in 1996, but by the end of 1997 this number had mushroomed to over 200. Online poker rooms started to appear in 1998, a year when the online gambling industry was adjudged to be worth more than $800 million. The early online casinos relied on games such as video poker, basic forms of roulette and blackjack as well as slot games. The original online slot games basically mirrored the appearance of land based slot machines, although as the industry matured developers became aware that online slot games allowed for a lot more creativity and ingenuity of design.
1996 saw the launch of NetEnt, and the third games provider to make up the so-called big three with Microgaming is Playtech, which came into being in 1999. Playtech were responsible for another major advance in online casino gaming, as they launched the first live dealer casino back in 2003. This allowed players to see cards being dealt and roulette wheels spinning, and was a valuable tool in the fight to get players gambling online. Although online casino gaming was moving into the mainstream, there was still resistance from traditionalists, who felt that online games may be rigged. The independent game testing company eCOGRA helped to relieve those concerns when it was formed in 2003, as did live dealer casinos, although of course it would take a few years before these became more widely used as technology improved.
Another Microgaming first was the release of the first ever jackpot game in January 2004, a game which was called Cash Splash. With a return to player of just 91.64% and a maximum jackpot of 5000 it is hardly impressive by today’s standards, but opened the door for the multi-million dollar progressive jackpot slots which are so popular with players all over the world. The record for the largest ever online slot jackpot is held by a young player from Cardiff who was playing Microgaming’s Mega Moolah game. He won £13,209,300 in October 2015, a record which has yet to be beaten, although games such as Mega Fortune and Hall of Gods are among those which could break it in future.
Today mobile casino gaming is all the rage, with more than 50% of casino players worldwide choosing to play from smartphones and tablets. All casino games produced by major providers, as well as the online casinos themselves, are designed to be fully integrated with mobile devices these days. With mobile players making up the bulk of the market, there is a long list of mobile casinos operating today, check out this recent list on ReelBonanza. With more developing nations gaining access to low cost smartphones, the global market for online casinos – and specifically mobile gaming – is increasing all the time.
Online casinos are already looking to the future when it comes to the next stage of development. That means things like the gamification of casino games, to attract the younger millennial generation. Social media integration is another step along that road, and virtual reality technology is being closely monitored by online casinos. Online casinos are going nowhere soon, and the future is looking very bright for this industry.