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The evolution of online gaming

Online gaming has come a long way in a relatively short time. Since the introduction of online casino games, slot machines, and poker rooms in the ‘90s, gaming websites have advanced at a stunningly rapid rate. Despite a legal setback in the USA in 2006, online gaming is now a bigger business than ever before.

It’s easy to see the draw of online gaming, as it allows you to easily partake in a pastime that people have enjoyed for thousands of years. While you used to have to get dressed, head out into traffic, and battle the crowds, now you can relax at home and enjoy popular slot machines and table games. But how did this evolution come to pass?

Read ahead for a guide to the evolution of online gaming, from its earliest origins all the way back in 3000 BCE, to the poker craze of the mid-000’s, to the AI and VR-enhanced games of today.

A brief history of gambling

Cards

Before we talk about the evolution of online gaming, it’s helpful to go over a brief history of gambling in general. People have been enjoying games of chance for thousands of years, and in many cultures, gambling even predates formal currency! In fact, six sided dice have been excavated from Turkish archaeological sites that date to 3000 BC.

The earliest ‘casinos’ and gambling houses that have been found in historical records date back to 1000 BC in China. Gamers could bet on domino games, animal fights, and lotteries. Playing cards emerged in China in roughly the same era, giving life to countless different card games now enjoyed around the world. The first legal casino in the Western world was established in Venice, Italy in 1638.

Online gambling sites emerge

While the very first origins of the world wide web date all the way back to the 1970s, online gambling only emerged in 1994. In this year the Caribbean island nation of Barbuda and Antigua began to issue licenses and officially regulate the world of online gambling, leading the way for the many countries that would follow.

In 1996, a site called InterCasino was the first online casino to ever launch. Since that time this one site alone has paid out more than $3 billion USD in winnings to eager online gamers! The site was initially very rudimentary, and for the next few years all online gambling websites remained pretty basic.

However, big changes were about to revolutionize the online gaming world (and the gambling world in general), as Texas Hold’em was about to experience a massive wave of popularity. The first online Texas Hold’em site launched with Planet Poker in 1999, with multiplayer options drawing huge numbers of players and generating big profits. For the first time, online players could socialize and interact with one another in chat rooms alongside their game.

The evolution of online gaming came to a grinding halt in the US in 2006, when the government banned all online gambling. However, many Caribbean and European nations were on hand to pick up the slack, and online gamers in the US still had many choices. Thankfully, these restrictions have now been lifted in many US states, and the worldwide online gaming industry is predicted to be worth $94 Billion USD by 2024!

Online gaming is more advanced than ever

Today, you don’t have to wait for other players to join you online in order to start playing your favourite table games. With poker games and tournaments this is usually the case (although you can at times play against a digital opponent), but some top casinos offer live dealer blackjack tables 24/7. This means that whenever you feel like unwinding over a fun hand of blackjack, you don’t even need to leave the house!

What’s up next for online gaming?

As we can see from the information above, online gaming has evolved rapidly over the past 25 years, and many exciting developments are on the horizon. The integration of virtual reality and artificial intelligence is becoming more common, and is sure to add a new dimension that gamers will relish. There is no limit to what we will see – and play – in years to come.

Photographs by Michael Nugent / StockSnap