A Brief History of Online Gambling Across the Globe
Whilst it may sound strange, the iGaming market that we know and love today can be traced back to a single major event that took place in the Caribbean on 10th November 1994.
It was on this date that the so-called Free Trade & Processing Act was passed in Antigua and Bermuda, with this legislation empowering gambling operators in both regions to apply for licenses and launch online casino platforms.
At this time, the world-renowned software house Microgaming was first established, and this firm can lay claim to having developed the world’s first online casino and virtual games library.
Of course, there are other companies that have made similar claims in the recent past, but there’s no doubt that it’s the Microgaming brand that blazed a trail for others to follow in the burgeoning iGaming space.
Less than 12 months later, another important player made their debut on the global iGaming stage and contributed heavily to the development of functional casinos across the World Wide Web.
More specifically, 1995 saw CryptoLogic facilitate secure real money transactions online, enabling casinos to accept deposits and process withdrawals quickly and safely. The beginning of 1996 also saw CryptoLogic build their own casino platform on the back of this software, with the InterCasino still going strong to this very day.
This was the catalyst for sustained and pronounced growth in the online casino market, with regulatory bodies springing up across the globe and providing licenses to a slew of international casinos and poker rooms.
As a result, the number of active online casinos increased from just 15 to 200 in the year ending 1997, whilst the following year saw global iGaming revenues exceed $830 million.
Regulatory Challenges and Rising Demand
By 2001, it was estimated that the estimated number of people who had participated in online gambling had risen to 8 million. This betrayed a significant increase within a relatively short period of time, whilst revenues also passed the $1 billion mark around the turn of the century.
This continued growth came against the backdrop of significant regulatory challenges, as national authorities in some regions began to crackdown on iGaming activity.
The U.S. government narrowly failed to pass the Internet Gambling Protection Act at the turn of the century, for example, which would have made it illegal to offer online gambling verticals to any U.S. citizen.
At the same time, the first Australian Federal Government passed the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act. This made it illegal for any online casino not licensed prior to May 2000 to operate, diminishing the Australian market and leaving Lasseter’s Online as the only valid operator.
Other countries adopted a more progressive regulatory outlook, however, including the UK and Ireland. To this end, the Labour government in the UK passed the ground-breaking 2005 Gambling Act, which essentially regulated the marketplace, created high levels of competition and afforded tax breaks to domestic operators.
This helped to sustain continued growth in the global marketplace, with revenues peaking at $21 billion by the end of 2008.
2010 Onwards – The Rise and Rise of Online Gambling
In many ways, 2007 was a watershed moment for the iGaming market, as this saw the launch of the iconic iPhone. This ushered in the age of the smartphone, and increasingly sophisticated mobile technology has dragged iGaming kicking and screaming into the consumer mainstream.
No single market embodies this better than the UK, where 10.6% of citizens between the ages of 18 and 34 participated in any form of gambling in 2008. As mobile technology began to take hold, however, this number increased to 17.5% in 2014 and it hasn’t looked back since. In fact, it was estimated that 48% of adults participated in one form of gambling or another in the year ending 2017, and it’s now thought that more than half of eligible Brits wager regularly online.
At the same time, it was revealed that 51% of all gamblers had wagered using a mobile phone or tablet, and this highlights how casual players are being empowered to bet as and when they have the time.
Now, aspiring gamblers have a diverse and immersive iGaming marketplace at their fingertips, and one that includes everything from RNG-powered games of chance such as slots to skill-based, live dealer titles like blackjack and poker. As a result, it should come as no surprise that 1.6 billion of the world’s population gamble on a regular basis, with 4.2 billion having wagered at one time or another during their lives.
The Global iGaming Market at a Glance
As online gambling becomes increasingly accessible prevalent, it’s continuing to claim a larger share of the industry as a whole. So, whilst the global gambling market will grow at a CAGR of approximately 4% to reach $525 billion by the end of 2023, iGaming will expand at a far quicker pace to achieve a market value of $94 billion just 12 months later (equating to a share of around 20% overall).
In the UK, iGaming will also evolve to claim a 50% share of the market during this time, with online gambling currently accounting for 39% of the overall gambling industry. With land-based revenues also declining in deregulated markets, the rise of online gambling will become a prominent global trend over the course of the next decade.
The UK also makes up a prominent part of the European market, which is currently established as the largest and most progressive iGaming sector in the world.
As recently as 2015, the European market contributed 47.6% of the €34.6 billion gaming gross win across the globe. This sum is calculated by subtracting player winnings from stakes, and Europe’s share of this haul shows both the profitability of the EU market and the level of demand amongst players.
Europe and the UK has also blazed a trail in terms of innovation and regulatory excellence, and this is something that the North American market is keen to learn from as it continues to grow.
On the subject of the U.S. market, this entity is finally starting to realise its true potential on the global stage.
Whilst it continues to face significant objections and various regulatory challenges, the market achieved a major breakthrough last year when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that prohibited commercial sports betting nationwide.
This 1992 federal law was reversed in a bid to regulate the sports betting market in the U.S., with an estimated $150 billion wagered illegally every single year.
This enabled states to legalise online sports betting if they so desired, and several have already sought to capitalise on the new legislation. These include states that have already legalised online casino gambling (namely New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania), along with Michigan, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
With further states likely to follow suit and a number of UK firms looking to invest heavily in the U.S. market and form lucrative technology-sharing pacts, North America could soon become a key player in the global iGaming market and send growth figures spiralling!
Restricted Countries – iGaming Across the Globe
There’s no doubt that the global iGaming market is growing at an exponential rate, whilst it’s also benefitting from increased diversification.
This applies to everything from the range of RNG and dealer games available to players to the typical player profile, with females now accounting for more than 40% of the global iGaming audience.
However, the online gambling landscape varies wildly from one jurisdiction to another, as whilst some are home to competitive and deregulated marketplaces others continue to uphold a blanket ban on all iGaming activities.
This not only makes it hard to identify precise trends and growth figures, but it also creates challenges for players who want to indulge their passion for online gambling when travelling through different regions.
So, whilst a growing number of jurisdictions are looking to legalise and regulate online gambling as a way of securing tax revenues, it’s important that you understand the iGaming laws and legislation imposed by a particular country before looking to wager there.
Fortunately, we’ve gathered the very latest data from eligible countries all over the world, whilst asking what they have to offer online gambling enthusiasts!