The first online casino games appeared on the internet in the mid 1990s. Prior to that, no real gambling websites were available to players. However, the technology to create realistic online gambling software suites, and to process monetary transactions safely and securely online melded together to create the online gambling industry during this time. In 1994 two pivotal events occurred which made online gambling a reality.
Gambling history really began in 1994 when the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processing Act which allowed legal licenses to be granted to companies wishing to open online casinos. In 1994, Microgaming released some of the first online software platforms for casinos, and they remain one of the most popular software platforms that many online casinos are run on today.
There is some argument over who has the title to the first online gambling casino. Microgaming opened The Gaming Club in October of 1995, but others contend that the first true online casino was opened in 1996 by InterCasino. Regardless of who can claim the first online casino that was the time when the world of gambling online truly opened up to the international player.
The mid to late 1990s saw expansion with new gambling commissions such as the Canadian Kahanawake Gaming Commission which was established in 1996. This and similar commissions were designed to regulate the revenues generated from the online casinos as well as how the online gaming activity proceeds. The main point of these gaming commissions is to keep online gambling fair and transparent, and many more such agencies cropped up and still continue to do so as the gambling industry as a whole seeks better practices and standards for online gaming activity.
Software also was expanding during this period of gambling history. From basic table games like poker and bingo, technology for online sports books and sportsbetting also advanced. Intertops is credited with being the first online sportsbook established in 1996 and licensed through the Island of Antigua. More games and online casino offerings continue to this date, even expanding into mobile casino applications.
The main struggle in gambling history has been with the uncertain legal climate and cross border online gambling - particularly with regard to the United States. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed and many online casinos closed their doors to residents of the United States. The European Union is a forerunner in creating a transparent, fair gambling climate and seeking industry legalization that will help standardize how various jurisdictions proceed with online gaming activity.