Online gambling has been in existence since the rising popularity of the internet, even when the general public was not well versed with World Wide Web. With its net worth on the upward trajectory since its first foundation, the value of the global online gambling market was at USD 53.7 billion in 2019.
Moreover, it is expected to grow at a rate of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027. These range from online casinos to sports betting, from online gaming to lottery; you name it. Apart from being a highly popular form of entertainment, its benefits in the high rate of employment and revenue generation have prompted governments to make it legal across several countries.
The first online gambling venue established for the public was in 1994 for ticketing purposes of Liechtenstein International Lottery But what gave a significant push to online gambling was the government of Antigua and Barbuda, in 1994, passing the Free Trade & Processing Act, which gave this small Caribbean country the power to grant licenses to companies to start online casinos. A small, recently established software company called “Microgaming” was the first to obtain their license and develop the world’s very first fully functioning online casino.
With 1996 came the establishment of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The commission regulated online gaming and other gambling activity from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. This was seen as an attempt to keep the operations of licensed online gambling organizations fair and transparent.
The online gambling sites which got developed in the initial years were crude and hardly had any finesse. Yet, they were extremely successful and popular. By the late 1998s, online poker sites got introduced. By that time, the total net worth of the online casino market was around $830 million.
THE CONFLUENCE OF ONLINE GAMBLING AND GAMING
Gaming started in and around the 1940s. But they were played offline, quite frequently, on computers. With the rapid advancement of the internet, online gaming took the world by storm.
By the late 1990s, companies had started heavily investing in gaming websites. Time-sharing and host-based network turned out to be the fundamental elements in the foundation of internet gaming. Moreover, online games were much cheaper and catered to a lot of people with different tastes. Thus the concept flourished immensely.
Companies soon realized that people were willing to gamble outside the standard casino games of poker, blackjack, rummy, roulette, etc. There was thus an increasing trend of introducing gambling within various online games. Although gaming and gambling are not similar terms, they are often used interchangeably in the gambling industry. To highlight their main difference, for gaming, the outcome is achieved by skill, not chance, whereas for gambling, the opposite is true. And the rising popularity of online gambling was attributed to the fact that people could easily play from wherever without any distractions and with versatility.
The real game-changer was the introduction of multiplayer gambling platforms in 1999. Online multiplayer gaming had already been established with the evolution of LAN networks in 1993. The amalgamation of features of online gaming into gambling brought thousands of people into this emerging industry.
The convergence of these two concepts, gaming and gambling, turned out to be quite lucrative for the industry. It combined the skill required for a variety of games with the thrill of taking risks dependent on the outcomes of events. As the 2000s progressed, the market became quite competitive.
An increasing number of games started having gambling features and vice versa. As the revenue generated increased, offers evolved, bonuses grew, and loyalty schemes were introduced. Online gambling sites were continually changing, trying to surpass each other. Soon progressive jackpots emerged and advanced multiplayer games were developed. Themed slots and live casinos became a thing, and everybody started getting into online gambling.
In 2007 the UK Gambling Commission, which regulates sports betting, bingo, lottery-style games, online casinos UK, stated that the gambling industry had achieved an income of over £84 billion.
THE MODERN TOUCH
The cherry on top of the gambling industry was mobile casinos. In a US-based survey, it was established that almost 79.8% of online gamblers preferred mobile casinos to desktop ones. In principle, mobile casinos are the same as standard online casinos. A significant advantage is that it can be used anywhere. Ease-of-use, convenience, and lack of time were the main reasons cited for such a survey choice.
Pushing the popularity of online gambling is the introduction of virtual reality in the prism of internet gambling. Players have been able to enjoy a lifelike casino experience where they can engage with other players in real-time. This has been made possible by the recent advances in virtual reality hardware and software. Online casinos offering virtual reality interfaces have received immense praise for the realistic slot machines, 3D game tables, detailed game rooms, and real casino sounds.
At the moment, there are very few online casinos interlinked with virtual reality. However, according to a 2016 study by Juniper Research, at a time when the total global number of wagers from virtual reality was a little over $58.5 million, that figure will rise by 800% by 2023 to a whopping $520 million. So, it would be foolish to underestimate how big virtual reality in online gambling will become in the near future.
Another exciting feature driving the growth of this industry is the incorporation of blockchain technology by several companies in their online gambling business. This helps them ensure transparency in gambling activities and offers an enhanced user experience. In addition, blockchain-based gambling platforms are wholly decentralized and are free of third-party influence.
What is very clear is the enormous impact that online gambling has had on the entertainment industry. A statistic report displays the number of online casino UK accounts to be around 31.57 million between October 2018 and September 2019. With the increasing number of internet users, this afore-mentioned number is only expected to increase year to year in the future.