How And When Casinos Went Online

Right now, as you read this, an online casino company somewhere in the world is making thousands of dollars. Actually, that’s not true. Hundreds of online casino companies are making thousands of dollars. They do it every hour of every day, every day of the year. Considering the online casino industry didn’t exist at all thirty years ago, the fact that it’s now worth tens of billions of dollars each year is nothing short of extraordinary – but how did we get to this point?

As recently as twenty years ago, there was no such thing as a popular online casino, and certainly no such thing as an online slots website. Fast forward to today, and online slots websites are springing up everywhere, you will find hundreds of slots in A-Z list of mobile slots. Through a combination of being able to offer more games and also being able to offer better deals to players because of their lower overheads, online slots websites are becoming an existential threat to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar casinos the world over. It’s almost certainly the way of the future as far as gambling is concerned, but we don’t concern ourselves with the future on this website. We concern ourselves with the past, and so we’d like to know how they became a runaway success almost overnight!

The Most Unlikely Starting Point

When and where do you think online gambling began? We suspect most of you would guess Las Vegas if you had to. If we told you that was a wrong guess, we think you’d probably move on to Monte Carlo or perhaps London or Paris. All of those guesses would be wrong, too. Improbable as it might sound, the current era of online gambling was made possible by a seemingly-innocuous new law in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994. The law, known as the Free Trade and Processing Act, made the tiny Caribbean nation the only place in the world that could create and grant licenses for the creation of online casinos.

Thousands of miles away, on an island in the Irish sea just to the west of England, a company called Microgaming was opening its doors for the first time. They didn’t know it yet, but they would go on to become one of the most significant and prolific online slots development companies in the world. A law existed to make online casinos possible, and a company capable of creating them had begun trading. The die had been cast.


Microgaming wasn’t trading for long before other companies started noticing what they were doing, and wanted in on the action. CryptoLogic opened a year after Microgaming, and they were followed by several more. In Australia, a small video game design company called Eyecon saw the way the wind was blowing, and immediately stopped making ‘regular’ video games and focused on making online slots instead. All of a sudden, numerous different companies were coming up with increasingly advanced games, and Antigua and Barbuda had never been so popular.

More and more companies offering access to internet-based casino games, and the competition grew ever more intense. Online slots were no longer enough on their own. Virtual versions of poker and roulette were added, and over time they were joined by ‘real-time’ games of poker and blackjack, played with real dealers. Every time one company took a step ahead with technology, everybody else raced to join them. Welcome offers were born out of competition between these new companies. It was a good time to be a customer. Everyone wanted your business, and everyone was prepared to undercut everybody else in order to get it.

Rise Of The Mobiles

While all this was going on, something else was happening in the field of technology. Laptops were getting smaller, faster, and more powerful, but mobile phones were accelerating at an even faster pace. The launch of the first iPhone changed the game when it came to what mobile phones looked like and how they were interacted with, and the wider screen areas made it possible for them to play games and video content in a way that had never been possible before. At the same time, internet connection speeds on mobile handset speeds reached the point of equivalence with desktops.

By 2016, mobile web use accounted for more traffic on the internet than desktop or laptop-based internet use for the first time ever. The pendulum has never swung back the other way since. With phone users suddenly the majority when it came to the internet, online casinos had to switch their focus. What were once laptop-orientated online slots websites suddenly became sleek, compact mobile slots websites. The look and feel of the games on the sites became tailored for the press of a finger rather than the click of a mouse. At first, there were a few compatibility issues, resulting in some companies releasing platform-specific versions of their most popular casino games. Eventually, though, HTML5 came along and made it possible to make any web page or app appear exactly the same on a phone screen as it would on a computer screen. In the here and now, there’s no difference in quality at all.

Nobody knows what the future might hold for online casinos. Many people believe that virtual reality will be the next great innovation, with players able to put on a headset and ‘sit down’ at a card table just as they could in the real world. Others think that a wave of regulation is coming that will force online casinos to strip back their offerings and moderate their prizes – although, given the amount of tax revenue they generate for their host countries, that seems unlikely. Maybe through next-generation VR and haptic feedback, we might be able to touch and feel our cards at a virtual poker table just as surely as we would at a real table. One thing’s for sure, though – it’s been a rapid-fire revolution, and the wheels of that revolution are still turning. An industry that didn’t exist thirty years ago is one of the fastest-growing in the entire world today – and it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon.