It is unlikely that anyone would dispute that the internet has changed the way we do things. We see these changes on a worldwide scale and in our day to day tasks. In fact, a large number of us don’t remember life without the internet and simply can’t get by without it!
Not only has the internet had an impact on our daily lives, but it has shaped and transformed industries. One of the most significant areas of growth has been online gambling and online casinos. From small and tentative beginnings, the online casino business has grown into a billion-dollar industry. The evolution of the industry has been driven by the fight to be the best online casino.
The internet now delivers the opportunity to play poker, roulette, and many other casino games from the comfort of our homes. Over the last 20 years, online casinos have seen many developments, and a competitive market has blossomed.
There isn’t a precise moment in history when online gambling began. It can be traced back to the mid-90s when the law for granting online gambling licenses was passed. Not all competitors have made it since then, but several popular sites started out in the late 90s and have been going strong ever since. As the potential and capacity for online casinos was recognized, many more started out in the 2000s.
The Early Years
In 1994, Microgaming got started with The Gaming Club; they claim to be the first to provide real money online casino games. By 1998 the first-ever internet poker room was launched. The following year, a social aspect was added to enhance the fun with multiplayer gaming.
What Shapes an Industry
As with any new product or service, consumer trust, and legal considerations have to grow at the same rate to maintain success. This was true for the online casino industry. As well as developments in technology, the success of these new businesses was dependent on third parties and lawmakers.
They had to understand what was needed to standardize practices. Independent authorities and gambling commissions were established to ensure fair practices as the industry grew, which was crucial to consumer trust.
While the concept of casinos had already proved popular, the key to success was in their delivery online. This meant that the evolution of online casinos was intrinsically tied to software and technology capabilities. Software companies continue to make it all possible and contribute significantly to the growth and evolution of online casinos.
In the early stages, the biggest leaps to be made were in the graphics and settings of the games. The choice of games, and the experience while playing them was, while arguably advanced for its time, very limited. A keen understanding of improving user experience through improved graphics, as well as relevant and interesting storylines, has brought the online casino industry to its position today.
While the software was improving, it was also reliant on the progress of technology in general. The better the internet connection, the more an online casino game could deliver. The move from dial-up internet to the increased bandwidths of broadband, and then on to fiber-optic has enabled this growth.
Then and Now
The days of a limited range of games is long gone. Now both the games and the technology are cutting edge and have to stay that way in the race to be the best online casino. An understanding of what makes casino games fun to play, combined with an ambitious approach to design has resulted in a diverse range of games. Today there are more themes than you can possibly imagine.
Competition keeps online casinos at the cutting edge today. Since the first pioneers in the field established the concept of online casinos, the games and ways you can win have evolved considerably. Two particular developments that have contributed to the industry’s success are progressive jackpots and co-branded games.
Having a portion of each spin pooled in a jackpot that required a special combination to trigger it brought a new level of sophistication and appeal to online casino games. Later, a Tomb Raider themed game was created, and the industry changed forever! Customers responded to familiar storylines and characters they knew and loved. It is still the case today, with the majority of entertainment brands being linked to an online casino game.
The introduction of live games has brought a new level of trust to the industry, making more customers than ever comfortable with using online casinos. To keep up with this demand, the casinos need to deliver to their customers. The next obvious development was mobile accessibility. With internet access trends shifting, the industry has kept up by providing the same quality service and graphics but on handheld devices.
Thanks to a successful evolution, the size of the online casino market is large. The worth of this billion-dollar industry is expected to more than double in the next five years. This leads to the inevitable question: what next?
There are some hints at what is on the horizon, and once again, it is tied to advances in technology. Virtual reality casinos are making their debuts and have proved popular so far. We can expect to see further developments in this field that will alter the player’s experience.
Something that is creeping into all spheres of technology is artificial intelligence. So far, it is mostly used to improve user experience; however, it will be interesting to see if other uses become popular and how that could work to the player’s advantage. Other advances come in the form of security and payment methods with blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency arriving on the scene.
The Final Word
In the last 20 years, online casinos have grown from a basic initial concept into a thriving entertainment industry. Crucial to this evolution has been the competitive market, which has fueled the progress in software and design.
Equally important are the established independent gaming commissions, which continue to regulate and set the standards for casinos. They have built the trust of consumers that is vital to the continued success and growth of online casinos.