The Evolution of Online Casinos and Gaming Apps

min read
BetMGM Aug 24, 2021, 10:08 AM

In 1994 a little-known company in South Africa called Microgaming developed what they claim to be the first online casino software in the world. Later, Microgaming released the first ever online casino, from which the online gambling industry was born. Since its humble beginnings, the industry has grown exponentially, and online casino technology has evolved with it.

The dawn of an industry

While other companies besides Microgaming might claim to have been the first to create an online casino game, none of them would have been able to without the Free Trade and Processing Act, which allowed licensing for online gambling sites. The bill was passed in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994, and later that same year The Gaming Club was released — the first true online gambling website (if you believe Microgaming was indeed first). Microgaming had the first foot in the door, but InterCasino were quick to follow with a website of their own, which launched in 1996.

By 1998 the online casino industry had already started becoming quite crowded, and online casino game developers around the world were releasing new content at a frenzied rate. Microgaming stepped it up again, leaving their competitors behind, and hit on another industry first – the progressive jackpot. Maybe they knew, maybe they didn’t, but the release of their online slot game Cash Splash, would change the new-found industry forever. 

Their progressive jackpot meant that a portion of every spin would be pooled together to form the jackpot, which would grow as more spins were played on the online slot game. The jackpot could only be triggered if a specific combination of symbols was scored on the game. Having started the industry all those years ago, Microgaming is still one of the biggest companies in online casino software development.  

While there were many online games being developed at this time, development of new online casino sites was slow because of the relatively simple nature of the internet in the 90s. Back then, it was still uncommon to have the internet in your home. 

Still, some companies recognized the potential growth and popularity of online gambling and couldn’t wait to get on the bandwagon. Intertops was one of the earliest to strike – as a sports betting company that had taken bets over the phone since 1983, they were now poised to adapt to the fast-growing phenomenon that was the internet.

While online casino games like slots were the first form of real money gambling, the game that would properly bring the online gambling industry to the masses, was online poker.

Poker puts the spotlight on online gambling

Closeup of old computer showing poker cards and chips  on the screen against white background

By 1998 online casinos were starting to gain more popularity, and the industry was blown open by yet another newcomer to the scene – a little online poker site called Planet Poker. 

For almost a year after Planet Poker went up, it was the only game in town. But their success and exclusivity were short-lived, as they had only spurred on all of their competition. By 1999 other poker sites like Party Poker, Paradise Poker and PokerStars started cropping up, all aiming to cash in on Planet Poker’s innovation. Party Poker would go on to become one of the most popular online gambling sites in the world.

By the turn of the century the popularity of online gambling sites had skyrocketed. As the internet became a staple in people’s households, more players were joining the world-wide community of online gamblers. 

In 2005, the USA became acutely aware of the popularity of online casinos and sought to prohibit US citizens from playing on gambling sites from abroad. The law was not successfully passed, but the attempt at localizing their citizen’s online gambling did leave an impression on foreign casino owners, who began to close their sites to American players – this scare soon passed.

Modern Online Gambling

In the years following the initial boom in the popularity of online casinos, massive numbers of new online casinos and games were released. As online casino game developers refined their designs and brought out more and more exciting games, technology moved forward at an alarming rate.

There were now hundreds of online casinos with new, beautifully designed games on offer. Whether you wanted to play online poker, blackjack, slots, or even baccarat, you were sure to find what you wanted. 

As their popularity grew, the classic casino games were evolving and being retrofitted for this new online environment. Free spins, bonus games, and many more enhancements were made possible by the progress in technology and the developer’s ability to implement it.

These days 3D and video slots have all but sidelined their classic ancestors, and the introduction of virtual and augmented reality to online poker and blackjack have done the same. New games and software are being released constantly, and big gambling software companies are always trying to outdo each other. 

The online gambling industry is constantly evolving and transforming to remain as relevant as possible – to the point of fitting in players’ pockets.

Online goes mobile

By the early 2000’s, new innovations such as smartphones and tablets were starting to change the way we lived our lives and, indeed, the way we wanted to play our online casino games. Mobile gaming had entered the scene, and the online gambling industry was about to realize its true potential.

The United Kingdom took the lead in the adoption of mobile gaming into the gambling industry, when in 2003 having a 3G connection enabled you to use “The Betting Site”. Right from your phone, you could place bets with your choice of five different bookmakers. This meant that you could now indulge in your favorite online pastime while you were on the go. After the release of the iPhone in 2007, and the App Store in July of 2008, there was no looking back – the way forward was mobile casino games apps.

During the first year of the App Store’s release, Texas Hold’em was on the list of the most downloaded iPhone apps. These online casino apps took to their new mobile environment even more naturally that they did to computers or laptops. Poker, slots, sportsbooks, anything you wanted to play or bet on could now be carried with you everywhere you went. Public Wi-Fi was not so prevalent yet, but the possibility existed and, as we now know, it caught on.

Technology never waits

Futuristic gambling concept featuring front view of a man wearing vr glasses placing bets online virtual digital sensor screen

With the increasing popularity and availability of virtual and augmented reality, as well as other developments in gaming technology and software, online casinos are not done changing yet. You can already experience live casino games, VR poker, and VR blackjack at certain online casinos, and augmented reality games are already widely available on mobile platforms.

As technological advancements continue to shape the world around us, it will continue to shape the world of online gambling too. The most significant of the changes over the lifetime of the industry revolve around the choices available to players. More platforms, more games, more developers, and more players means more change and more development in online casinos and the games they provide.

Try your luck with BetMGM

Technology may change, but our commitment to offering you the best online gambling experience won’t. At BetMGM we feature some of the most cutting-edge and popular online casino games available. From Live poker and blackjack to hundreds of great online slots games, BetMGM delivers one of the best online gambling experiences available. Sign up with us today to put our technology to the test.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.