From traditional favourites like roulette and blackjack to exotic choices like sic bo and pai gow poker, casino games are now more popular than ever before. But most of us have ditched brick-and-mortar casinos, choosing instead to play on the internet at sites like bgo. Here we take a look at the short but colourful history of the online casinos we know and love today.
1994: The First Online Casino
Online casinos wouldn’t be around today if not for the passing of the ‘Free Trade & Processing Act’ in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994. This gave the small Caribbean nations the power to hand out licenses to companies wanting to set up their own internet casinos.
Microgaming was the first in line. The software company opened The Gaming Club – the world’s first fully-functioning, licensed online casino – shortly after the act was passed. It wasn’t long before other companies started following suit, opening the virtual doors of their own internet casinos, much to the delight of gamblers.
1998: Introduction of the Progressive
As online casinos started growing in popularity, so too did the competitiveness of the market. No longer was it enough for operators to offer only the usual blackjack, roulette and poker games. They had to find bigger, better casino games to stand out from the crowd and draw in those plucky online punters.
This led to the innovation of extra side bets on table games, as well as new themes, characters and bonus features in slots. No doubt the most notable new bonus was the progressive jackpot.
Microgaming’s Cash Splash was showcased in 1998 as the first online slot to feature a big cash progressive. Its success led to the wealth of progressive jackpot slots you find available today, from Age of the Gods to Jackpot Giant.
2005: Casinos Go Mobile
Online casino games continued to boom after the millennium. And as smartphones became more sophisticated, a growing number of players began spinning slots, chancing roulette wheels and busting blackjack dealers on the go.
Online casino operators were quick to respond. By 2005, most had started work on custom-built mobile platforms and apps, to allow players to access their games in just a few clicks or swipes of a smartphone screen. A number of software companies even started to develop slots and casino games exclusively for mobile.
2016: A Glimpse Into VR
The rise of the mobile online casino, which made games even more accessible than before, led to another steep rise in the number of us playing. This, in turn, led to more brilliant games, featuring – you’ve guessed it – better bonus features and even bigger jackpots.
And just when players thought it couldn’t get much better, a VR (virtual reality) edition of NetEnt’s popular Jack and the Beanstalk slot was unveiled in 2016 at ICE London, the international gaming event. It introduced us to a whole new way to play, allowing slot gamers to spin reels whilst completely immersed in a three-dimensional, fairy-tale world.
Though VR technology is still considered to be in its infancy, a few VR casino sites and games have started to pop up online. It shouldn’t be long before the technology really takes off.
What’s next for the online casino?
The online casino world shows no signs of slowing down. New games, new bonus feature innovations and new technologies continue to change how we can enjoy our favourite casino games. It’s certainly an exciting time to be an online player.