Wherever groups of people congregate, gambling is sure to take place. People have always loved gambling, even when it was playing cards or rolling dice in 100 A.D. This popular industry has evolved a great deal since those early days and now it is almost unrecognizable from what it was just a few decades ago.
The early history of the gambling industry
Where did gambling originate? Some historians date the history of gambling right back to the Stone Age. Tiles unearthed in ancient China could have been part of a lottery game. Scenes on ancient pottery from Greece and Rome show people betting on animal fights.
The Greeks and Romans didn’t only bet on animals. One of the favorite ancient gambling games for the Greeks was to bet on sporting events. The Romans enjoyed gambling on chariot races, sometimes losing their possessions or even their freedom.
Everything from sticks to rocks and bones were used as ‘chips’ for gambling in centuries gone by. The first playing cards appear to have been used in China in the 9th century AD. Dice have been recovered in various ancient ruins, including Egyptian tombs and Pompeii.
The arrival of the casino industry
It was in 1638 that the first casino, the Ridotto, opened its doors in Venice, Italy, to provide a more regulated gambling environment. In the 19th century, casinos began to open up all over the continent of Europe.
Early settlers in America who came from France brought games like Vingt-et-un and Roulette with them. Mississippi steamboats became popular gambling venues and in frontier towns, gamblers risked much more than a few gold pieces as card cheats were often lynched.
In 1829 a form of poker was popular in New Orleans and many of the games played by these early pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries are still played today.
The mechanization of gaming
With the mechanization of gambling and the invention of the first gambling and video slot machines, it was possible to regulate winnings more accurately. The first slot machine, developed in the late 1800s, had five symbols and three spinning reels. Slot machines were soon being mass-produced and used in salons all over.
As brick-and-mortar casinos became increasingly popular, the range of games they offered started to grow too. As well as card and table games, people could also play slot machines, and these casinos started to look more like the billion-dollar businesses they have become today.
Technology makes online gambling possible
When we look at how has technology changed since the first brick-and-mortar casinos became popular, it’s no wonder it has had such an influence on gambling. With the advent of the internet, it was inevitable that bookmakers would start to think about how to allow people to gamble online.
The first nations with free trade agreements for online casinos were in the Caribbean. The first online casinos were established in 1994 and two years after this, the first gaming commission outside Montreal in Canada began to issue licenses. This set the stage for the development of the massive digital industry that exists today.
A company called Microgaming developed the first functional gambling software and used online security software to make safe online transactions possible. By the late 1990s, there was a realization of the true potential of online gambling and it went from strength to strength.
Many small deposit casinos have made it possible to gamble by putting down a minimal deposit, and this helped to open up gambling to a wider population. There are also many bonuses and promotions on offer and used wisely, they offer the opportunity to play for longer with more opportunity to win.
Mobile gambling at online casinos
With the use of mobile phones, more companies added apps to what they had to offer and by 2018, mobile gambling accounted for about 40% of online gambling industry revenue. Using digital devices for gambling led to unprecedented accessibility and convenience.
Payment methods have improved and deposits and withdrawals are safe, secure and fast. Using the means that with a few taps on a smartphone, you can have money in your account.
Picture a scene where you’re out for drinks and you have just won a casino jackpot while you were waiting for your friends to arrive. You want to be able to withdraw some of your winnings to buy a round of celebratory drinks. Using a payment method such as PayPal, your money is in your account almost immediately.
The future — what’s next from here?
When looking at casino industry trends, much of the focus appears to be on the mobile gaming industry at present, with online casinos focused on making their content compatible with the latest mobile devices.
We could see gambling on the Blockchain and cryptocurrencies disrupt the industry in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine even a few years back. Many people are already using cryptocurrencies for gambling. The Blockchain allows users the opportunity to gamble anonymously and deposit and withdrawals are almost instantaneous.
Some of the next generation, block-chain based gaming ecosystems will allow casino operators to implement gambling applications unlike those we have seen to date – with low to zero transaction fees, zero-house edge and proof of fair random numbers.
Virtual reality technology is just starting to be commercially viable and perhaps the future may see players sitting around a virtual poker table with friends from all over the world, all wearing VR headsets. If technology continues to advance at the rate it has been doing in the past decade, this is certainly a possibility.
From those early games of chance, the gambling industry has matured and grown. The top gambling sites have recognized a market and have stepped up to the plate to deliver what users are expecting. They can now play comfortably from their mobile devices while on-the-go. Who knows what the future holds for gambling as technology continues to develop.