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Gambling online: A historic overview

The history of online gaming is short but sweet; the story really begins in 1994 when the governing body of Antigua Barbuda passed the “Free Trade and Processing Zone” act. This act essentially allowed for the issuing of gaming licenses to any persons or companies who wished to open an internet casino.

Although the law was passed, there was not the software with which to accomplish the possibilities, and so in the same year Microgaming was born, followed very shortly by CryptoLogic. Both now known as giants of the internet gaming world, these companies studiously developed software and security so that in 1996 the first online casino opened it's lobby to gamblers of the world.

The years of 1996-1998 showed growth beyond comparison in the online gaming world due to a number of factors. Firstly the speed with which the internet and access to it grew within these years was unprecedented in the history of technology. Secondly the number of casinos increased at such a speed, and with the added demand, the software development galloped along at unparalleled velocity. It was during this period that Microgaming introduced the first ever progressive jackpot; Cash Splash.

Just as it didn't take long for the online gaming industry to gather momentum, so it didn't take it's opponents long either to muster an attack. Senator John Kyl, the Republican from Arizona introduced the “Internet Gambling Prohibition Act” in 1998; it died in the House. By this point the online gaming industry, only 2 years old, was worth an estimated $1 billion and was showing no signs of going into decline. None-the-less Senator Kyl returned the following year with a repackaged bill; again it fails, but Senator John Kyl spends the next 6 years lobbying, introducing, and reintroducing bills.

By 1999, there were reckoned to be 700 online casinos and it is in this year, on April 10th; that ‘Lasseters' opens; the first and last Australian online casino. Another land mark event in 1999, was Microgaming's introduction of independent auditing and payout assessments into the online gaming world. Using the world renowned Price-Waterhouse-Cooper, Microgaming set a standard for all online casino providers that reflected the safety and security of play that the casino customers required.

By the time the new millennium rolled in there were more casinos than ever, more software providers, more progressive jackpots, more players and more licensers, with Gibraltar being added to the list; Gibraltar would go on to be one of the biggest license providers online.

By 2001, some of the biggest casino's were boasting over half a million accounts, and even with the bills finally passed in Congress in 2002 and 2003 limiting online gambling, the industry continued and continues to grow; now worth an estimated $49 billion.

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