Online Casinos In The 1990s
The history of online gambling more or less began in the mid-1990s. By 1994 and 1995 many casino games could be played online even though online casinos were not yet mainstream entertainment. In 1996 the Gaming Club was launched online. It went on to obtain ownership of an online casino operating out of New Zealand that had been in operation since 1994.
In January of 1996 history was made when the first bet was placed at an online sportsbook. For the remainder of the year only one more online sportsbook would launch, so online casinos outnumbered them. Even today, online casinos still outnumber sportsbooks, though that may change in the future. However, that same year InterCasino was the first one online that allowed anyone to place a bet using real money. This quickly took off and before long close to 55 billion in bets was placed collectively.
For U.S. players 1997 marked the launch of the most popular online sportsbook at that time. However, the co-founder of the site served 18 years in prison after having been charged with a United States Federal Wire Act of 1961 violation. There was an uproar in the community over his jailing that led to his online sportsbook site growing more popular than it had ever been expected to. Yet the site quickly fell from grace and was never able to recover.
Also in 1997, Cyberoad was launched as an online casino software provider. The software company was launched by Calvin Ayre, a computer programmer that had been designing casino game software for three years. His intention was to compete with major casino software providers such as Microgaming. By the beginning of 1998, Calvin was able to power several online casinos. He used the software he created to launch online casino Bodog, which was eventually sold and rebranded as Bovada.
In spite of the popularity of online sportsbooks in the UK, not many bookmakers were convinced they wanted to expand to the Internet. 1998 was the year that a record number of UK based companies launched their own online casinos. Betonline.com went on to become one such site that became popular among gamblers in the UK.
The same year, progressive jackpots began to lure even more real money players in than in the previous few years. The first slot machine game to offer a progressive jackpot was released that year by Microgaming. The game was called Cash Splash and is still found in most online casinos today.
By the end of 1998 the online casino industry was worth a reported $834.5 million. This resulted in a growing number of companies wanting to get in on the online casino industry. Gamblers benefitted greatly, because online casinos were outdoing each other with their player bonuses.
The beginning of 1999 saw the arrival of multi-player games to online casinos. It was now possible for players to replicate the experience of a land based casino and compete against other players as opposed to a computer.