As a form of entertainment one may trace history of casinos from the ancient civilization of Greece right through to present day. Ridotto in Venice, Italy, was the first known European venue. It was set up in 1638, commissioned by the Great Council of Venice, to allow a monitored entertainment at the time of carnivals. Casinos trace their American roots to early establishments called saloons, which at times incorporated a pub, lodgings for travellers and sections for tying up their horse(s), on its premises.
Europe is the biggest consumer market for this gaming industry, with over 400 casinos. Monte Carlo is acknowledged as a prominent venue of the casino industry. Popular games include games based on cards and dice, roulette, and slots besides several others. Region wise popular games may also be included. Poker, craps, Blackjack, Roulette, and Baccarat are some popular card based games.
The casino culture is often portrayed in cinema. A few popular movies which have incorporated the casino culture would be 21, Blackjack, Casino, Revolver and the Ocean’s trilogy. It’s also been frequently portrayed in the successful movie franchise – James Bond.
It is not just limited to movies, but it can be found in literary mentions too. The Gambler, is a novella by eminent Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, tells the story of a young tutor, employed by a previously rich Russian general.
Casino as a form of entertainment transcends the physical realm and established in the cyber universe as well. Not only for computer owners, it has also expanded its business territories in the mobile domain like for example irish casino bonus offers. For non-gamers too, it is a viable avenue of income, integrated a previously untapped resource base. Software experts, writers and several marketing businesses have now come to be associated with the cyber incarnation of casinos.
The FTPA passed by Antigua and Barbuda in 1994, authorized licences to be granted to businesses applying to start online casinos. Prior to the advent of online casinos, the first completely developed software was created by Microgaming, a software company with its operations based out of Isle of Man. Their software was secured by another software developed by an online security software development firm – CryptoLogic. Secure transactions were made possible and this progressed to the advent of initial online casinos in the same year.
Two years later the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established. From the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake this Commission regulated online gaming activity and began issuing gaming licences to several online casinos and poker rooms, globally. This was done to keep operations and activities of the licensed online casino businesses transparent and ensure fairness.
Popularity arose during the late 90s. Online sites shot up meteorically from a mere 15 in 1996, to 200 the next year. Online revenues were over $830 million in 1998 itself! The first-ever online poker rooms came about in that same year. Online multi-player was created in 1999 creating a unique concept – where people could play, chat and interact with one another.
By 2001, numbers rose to eight million and continued growing. Online casinos were reported to have generated revenues of $21 billion, in 2008. In 2016, a statistics portal – Statista predicted the online casino market-size would have a volume of $45.86 billion and further increase to over $55 billion by 2018.
Mobile gaming brought online casinos into rapidly growing cosmos of tablets and smartphones. Hundred plus mobile casinos are active as of December 2013. Most of the big casino operators now have a mobile application platform for their players.
A 2005 forecast advised global mobile casino services generating revenues exceeding $19.3 billion by 2009. However, analysts showed the 2009 revenues at $4.7 billion. This discrepancy was attributed to sudden 2006 American prohibition on all online casino activities.
A September 2010 report cited the total sum wagered on mobile casino games is expected to exceed $48 billion by 2015. The report bases this prediction on:
- The meteoric growth-rates of mobile casinos, lotteries and related services by providers in potentially growing markets.
- Liberalization of mobile gambling legislation in Europe.
- Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, being repealed by America; legally
- allowing Americans to use online casinos again.