History of Online Casinos

Published on: April 13, 2009 

Ever since the launch of online casinos in the mid 1990s, it has been America that has been driving online gambling. Therefore the current uncertain situation in America is worrisome.

Microgaming and Cryptologic pioneered the development of online gambling. Microgaming is credited with putting in place the first online casino software that allowed players to play for free. However it was Cryptologic that was able to incorporate the financial transactions package into the casino software and launch the first real money online casino, InterCasino.

In the second half of the 1990s online casinos grew steadily and improved both in the gaming and in the administrative features. One of the watershed features was the wide area progressive jackpot. This allowed players at different online casinos playing the same game to contribute to a common progressive jackpot pool. This enabled the jackpots to grow faster and larger. Another feature was the utility that allowed players to check on their gaming history and financial history.

In the beginning of this century the growth in online gambling was phenomenal. Most online gaming software providers upgraded their products significantly. Microgaming launched its Viper software. Odds On went through a metamorphosis and emerged as Vegas Technology. Flash casinos were developed that were compatible with operating systems other than Windows and that could be played without being downloaded. Multi lingual and multi currency online casinos were launched to cater for the growth in Europe and Asia. At the same time a framework of self regulation began to evolve with online casinos appointing independent expert organizations like eCOGRA and Technical Systems Testing to perform audits.

In 2006 it was believed that the growth would continue without end. Then in October 2006, the United States passed the UIGEA. This act was passed in response to 9/11 in order to prevent terrorist organizations from using online casinos to launder money. It became illegal for financial institutions to transfer funds to online casinos on behalf of the players. Some prominent casinos like PartyGaming were already being prosecuted under an older act, The Wire Act. The net result of all this was that two of the leading online gaming software providers, Playtech and Crtptologic closed their doors to American players, along with some independent operators like PartyGaming. Microgaming, the leader in the online casino industry left America in 2008.

The online casino and online poker players in America are taking this issue up with the authorities through trade associations like iMEGA. They have initiated legal proceedings, are trying to effect legislative changes and are increasing public awareness that the online gambling industry is a responsible industry and that legalization and regulation of online gambling can bring in much needed revenue through taxation of the industry. Not all online gaming software providers have left the American market. Real Time Gaming (RTG), Vegas Technology and Wizard Gaming have increased their branding in the American market particularly after the withdrawal of Microgaming.

Some important brands of these operators are listed below:

Real Time Gaming

Vegas Technology

Wizard Gaming

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