An Abridged History of Online Casinos
As our readers will know, modern online casinos are immense in both their offerings and their convenience. This is an aspect that newcomers might take for granted, having never experienced the complications and difficulties of online casinos’ early days. Taking a look back, we want to examine how far online casinos have come, and what exactly has led to the size and breadth of today’s online casino industry.
Starting from Desktop
The very first digital casinos went online in 1996. Back in these days, the most common method of internet access was the 56k modem. Capable of theoretically downloading a megabyte of data in 2.5 minutes, actual connection speeds were usually much lower. For modern applications, this speed is slow enough to be functionally useless but, in 1996, websites required far less data.
Even so, it wasn’t uncommon for the games at the time – usually slots or blackjack – to take upwards of ten minutes to load. Similarly limited by processing power as they were by bandwidth, these games were ugly by today’s standards and ran poorly. It was only after the year 2000, when hardware acceleration became common and cable internet standard, that we’d see a glimmer of online casino true potential.
Growing Popularity and Competition
At the start of the new millennium, the internet had shaken off its formerly niche appeal and worked its way into the mainstream. In 1995, 1.9% of the UK had access to the internet. By 2000, this had risen to 26.8%. By 2010 and 2015, these proportions had grown to 80% and 92% respectively.
For online casinos, these numbers meant a massive influx of potential new customers from which to draw. Such potential precipitated an enormous rise in new businesses throwing their hats into the internet casino ring. From dozens came hundreds, each fighting to offer something new and unique.
It was during this age of peak competition where the groundwork was set for the profound variety that the industry exhibits today. The growth of both casinos and their customer bases made it clear that developing games in-house was no longer a realistic prospect.
Instead, dedicated digital casino game developers like Microgaming, NetEnt, and Yggdrasil came to act as suppliers. Combined with faster internet and more powerful devices, the range of games for online casinos exploded. The most popular in this regard were slots, which lend themselves excellently to a wide range of themes and bonus systems.
The next gamechanger in the online casino sphere was undoubtedly the development of the smartphone. Originally popularised by the iPhone in 2007, the advanced capabilities and touch-interface of smartphones would prove a perfect fit for online casinos.
Originating with dedicated casino apps, mobile offerings would evolve like their desktop counterparts. With the arrival HTML5 in 2014, the final shackles of device disparity were shaken off, as smartphones became able to host experiences near-identical to the previously dominant desktop and PC platforms.
Today, mobiles act as the preferred systems for many, with their convenience serving as the deciding factor fans couldn’t ignore. Practically all of the best online casinos in the modern environment will operate to the exact same degree as they do on desktops. This includes key aspects such as bonuses, support systems, and, of course, game selection.
What’s Next to Come?
While online casinos are far from settled, their development in the last few years has been steadier than in prior generations, especially in terms of it having settled well onto mobile. Unfettered by technical limitations, the potential for games now is only as limited as the developer’s imaginations. There have been standouts, however, with live casino games offering the latest generation leap.
As for what’s soon to come, the answer could perhaps lie in the capability of virtual and augmented reality. Still underdeveloped within the greater market, only a few games like the Gonzo’s series of slots have taken the first steps into investigating this new realm. It should be noted that the potential for AR and VR casino integration is on par or perhaps even greater than most traditional gaming applications, so bigger experiences are likely just a matter of time.
Until then, players have still got thousands of different games to choose from, right at their fingertips. It’s been a long journey, but make no mistake, we’re still a long way from seeing just how far online casinos can go.
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