Online casinos represent a sector of the economy that’s taking over the local gaming house business volumes. To understand this change, we’ve presented a brief overview of the crucial years below. England, of course, is no exception to this phenomenon.
1994 – The first online casinos open for business
During this period, the first two online casinos of all time were born. These web pioneers were Inter Casino and Gaming Club. Unsurprisingly, these two casino sites became a worldwide success. Millions of players from all over the world signed up in just a few months. It also attracted private investors hunting for profit. These two pioneering casino sites gradually emerged as the new leaders of online gambling.
1997 to 2005 – The golden years for online casinos
Hundreds of online casinos invaded the internet in record time during the 2000s. To ensure legality, the owners of these casinos registered their companies in legal havens in Central America. That’s why online casinos were considered to be unfair competitors of land casinos. It took many years for states to take action so that online casinos activities could finally be regulated or prohibited.
The grey area of the golden age
During the 2000s the casino environment was described as a grey area. In fact, no law could prohibit online casinos as long as they were hosted in countries that allowed them. It wasn’t until 2006 that everything changed. That was the toughest year for online casino owners, with the US government starting to put regulations in place.
Online casinos were being banned in the US, and anyone who didn’t comply with this ban could face heavy penalties. Resources were put in place by US intelligence services to destroy the offshore industry (source: Wikipedia).
It only took a few months for President George Bush’s administration to put an end to the reign of online casinos on US soil.
2005 – The UK legalises online casinos
The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to legalise online casinos. Online gambling activities in England were going to be regulated once and for all. The Gambling Act 2005 had been put in place to ensure a reliable environment on English soil.
This decision by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office made the United Kingdom a unique model for the casino industry.
UK Gambling Act 2005
The years following the UK Gambling Act 2005 attracted more than 100 online gambling-related companies to the UK. These new British online casinos were gradually taking the place of local gambling houses. More and more players had started to play online at the expense of land-based casinos.
2007 – The iPhone kickstarts the digital mobile era
On 29th June 2007, the first smartphone of the digital age was launched. Apple will benefit from online casino operators as they adapt their gaming platforms to mobile devices. In just a few years, the best-run casino platforms would be compatible with iPhones. Today, web casinos are also adapted to Android mobiles and tablets.
2011 – European casino regulations
The EEC countries were undoubtedly slow to adapt, and it was only in 2011 that casino operators were legitimised in Europe. Contrary to the United States, which had chosen to ban online casinos in 2006, Europe preferred to regulate them. Thus, each European country can, according to its laws, control the activities of online casino games. To date, almost all European Economic Community countries have legalised online casinos, making it the largest market in the world.
2018 – The re-opening of the US market in some states
In 2018, the US government decided to lift the ban on online gambling (source: wizardofodds.com). Each state can, under certain conditions, host online casinos. Before this, online gambling in the US was completely banned. However, the reality is that the market is limited, for both operators and players. The legal offering of casino games in the US isn’t hugely attractive.
Outlook for the future – Continued growth
From 1994 to the present day, the online casino industry has been going through a huge growth. Except for 2006, when the USA banned online games, the industry has always been on the rise. It’s now worth nearly 50 billion dollars in business volume per year on an international scale (source: Statista.com).
2020 – England sets a harsher tone
The golden years of the UK online casino market came to an end. For several years now, initiatives have been taken to better control gambling activities throughout the UK. Without a doubt, UK gambling operators enjoyed a lot of freedom between 2005 and 2019. In 2020, the UK government will impose strict limits on online casino operators. The main purpose of these acts is to fight gambling addiction, which is a growing problem in recent years. These issues, among other things, have resulted in an uncontrollable number of personal bankruptcies for people who have been caught up in the online gambling spiral. To try and put an end to this, new rules are being imposed on online operators. For example, the use of credit cards will no longer be accepted at online casinos.
Online casinos versus land casinos
In terms of business volumes between online casinos and land-based casinos, there’s a 50/50 balance. However, the difference is in the profits generated by each party. Mainly because physical casinos face huge operating costs, and online casinos are cheap to run. Thus, online casinos are able to make bigger profits. For physical casinos, generating profit has become a concern. The fact that the land casinos are less frequented also makes it clear that players’ preferences are no longer the same. The new generations tend to prefer to play online. All in all, the online casino industry is set to grow in the future, while local land-based casinos could slowly disappear.