Today, casino players around the world can go online, log into a casino, and play any one of hundreds of real money games in a safe playing environment. But things weren’t always like that.
There was a time when online casinos were seen as the wild west of the gambling industry. A place where players didn’t know who to trust or where to play.
So what happened? Read on as we take a closer look at the rise of online casino gambling, examine the current state of affairs, and speculate about what the future may hold.
The Early Days
The first online casinos were born in 1994 in a perfect storm of three vital elements. First, Microgaming (Isle of Mann) was producing fully functional gambling software. Second, the eSecurity company called Cryptologic was able to ensure the safety of this casino software. Third, ecommerce had begun to take off, and digital payments were finally safe and easy. With all of these factors in order, online casinos licensed in Antigua and Barbuda and the Kahnawake territory began to flood the net between ’94 and ‘96.
These sites and their software were simple at best, but they were at least trying to be fair. The countless unregulated sites, though, began to take advantage of vulnerable players and some simply didn’t have the cash flow to pay out winnings. These operations set the industry back a decade in the minds of players and we’re only now (finally!) putting those days in the past.
This, along with people’s perception of off-line gambling, created somewhat of a stigma and meant that such pastimes (particularly online) were seen in a very negative light — a stigma which had the knock-on effect of reducing online gaming revenue in the early days.
Today’s Casinos Have a Lot to Offer
Now that government regulation and industry auditing have started to play a legitimate role in the world of online casino gambling, players like you have a lot less to worry about and a lot more to enjoy. Online casinos are free from a lot of the real world limitations that land based casinos face, and that gives them a lot of potential. For example, with no real physical boundaries, online casinos can offer hundreds, if not thousands, of variations of games.
And even if you want to stick to the standard variations, online casinos cannot be beaten when it comes to convenience. Ever since the earliest days of the industry, online casinos have attracted new players by being easier and cheaper to play in. You just have to sit down at a computer, log in, and in a matter of seconds you can start winning real money from anywhere in the world.
The Safety of Online Play
So the next logical question is, “How much has online casino safety really improved?” and the answer is likely to surprise you. Today, assuming you only play with trustworthy companies (from America to Australia) like those recommended at good comparison sites such as CasinoOnline.com.au, you have almost nothing to worry about. Between tighter government restrictions and the help of widely-respected auditing firms, rogue sites simply aren’t falling through the cracks.
The biggest boon to online casino safety, arguably, has to do with communication in the online gambling community. With popular forums, blogs, and even face-to-face groups, word spreads fast and the scammers don’t even have a chance. Rogue casino sites always depended on players that didn’t know better, but there are fewer and fewer of those players every day. A word to the wise: staying informed is the #1 way to stay out of harm’s way online.
The Future is Bright
Right now, if you take a look around the world of online gambling, you can see that we’re already taking some big steps into the future. Mobile gambling is an essential part of any modern casino site and there is an ever-growing segment of live gambling (with real dealers). What the future holds is up for constant debate, but one thing is certain. It’s only going to get safer from here on out.
With gambling related articles (including the controversial comments by Sheldon Adelson) becoming more frequent in mainstream press, more and more people are becoming aware of how big the business is. Legislation and regulation are becoming increasingly hot topics across the world. Like the lottery before it, online wins such as the 11.7 million Euros won by a Norwegian man on a progressive slots site, make the games appealing to the public.
With the growth of online devices and more trusted brands in the market, betting in general has become more mainstream and socially acceptable. In addition, many non-gambling games (World of Warcraft, etc.) are now huge money generators as they allow players to spend money in-game. The online gaming industry in general then, is booming and looks unlikely to be slowing down anytime soon.
As European countries and American states study the issue, they’re all coming to the same conclusion. Online casinos aren’t going anywhere — they just need to be regulated, and that’s exactly what’s happening. In just a few years, it’s likely that the face of online casinos will have been forever changed by strict government oversight (not to mention cutting edge future technology) so that any concerns about safety and fairness are left far in the past.