Online Gambling: How Legal Woes Has Not Stopped It from Being a Billion Dollar Industry

It is a cold, hard fact: the future of online gambling is still up in the air because of ongoing debates of whether to legalize it or not. While a lot of states in the US have already passed bills legalizing online gambling, a huge part of the country and other nations of the world are still weighing the pros and cons of having the industry legalized in their jurisdiction, and it will probably take a few more years for online gambling to get out from its legal limbo.

Thankfully, a key law on online gambling has just been overturned in the United States and soon, sports betting is about to become legal in most states, which means that the already burgeoning industry is about to grow bigger than ever.

In fact, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that sports betting could be a $400 billion industry, and things are about to explode once it becomes legal. But before we look into what lies ahead in online gambling, let’s take a quick rewind to the beginning and how the industry has grown into a billion-dollar empire:

How it all started for online gambling: a timeline

  • 1994: The first online wagering transactions already began in the 90s, but it wasn’t until 1994 when it all became official, thanks to a Free Trade and Processing Act passed in Antigua and Barbuda that allowed organizations applying to open online casinos to be granted a license. InterCasino made history then as the first online casino to get a license and everyone followed suit after that.
  • 1995: Following the immense popularity of online casinos, online security software company CryptoLogic developed methods to making online transactions more secure for gamblers. It is also in the same year that Microgaming launched video poker, craps, blackjack and roulette. Today, you can already play live roulette, which takes the gaming experience a notch higher. Read more about live roulette to see how it has evolved from the first roulette game released by Microgaming.
  • 1996: InterCasino accepted the first real money wager online and more than a decade after, the gaming company has already paid out more than $3 billion in winnings. A regulatory body called the Kahnawake Gaming Commission also started issuing gaming licenses to online casinos and poker rooms around the world.
  • 1997: From a mere 15 websites, online gambling has reached a staggering 200 websites within the span of a year.
  • 1998:Texas Hold’em, now one of the most popular online games, was introduced by Planet Poker and online gambling revenues reached $834.5 million as reported by Frost & Sullivan.
  • 1999: The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act prohibiting companies from offering any online gambling product to US citizens was written but did not pass. It was also in the same year that multiplayer games were introduced to the market.
  • 2000: The Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act prohibiting any online casino that was not licensed and under operation before May 2000 was passed in Australia.
  • 2001: $414, 119, the largest progressive jackpot to date was won at The Sands of the Caribbean online casino. The number of online gamblers also grew to more than 8 million despite the growing number of lawsuits and bans filed against the industry.
  • 2006: The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed on the last day of Congress before the elections. It “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” David Carutheres, BetOnSports CEO was arrested for racketeering conspiracy and a $7.2 million fine was dropped on The Sporting News for not removing online gambling ads.
  • 2009: More than $35 million from 27,000 online poker accounts was seied by the Department of Justice. Carruthers also pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to 33 months in prison.  
  • 2012: A federal judge in New York ruled out poker as a game of chance on August 21. Being a game of skill, poker has been exempted from the Federal Wire Act of 1961. An online gaming version of Battlestar Galactica was introduced to the market and became a huge hit for fans of the TV series.

What the future holds for online gambling: the ups and downs

Since then, the online gambling industry has been slapped with lawsuits, bans and legal fiascos that made it hard for operators to offer the best service to their clients. But the gambling public hasn’t stopped supporting the industry. In fact, the growth of its market has been astounding, to say the least. In fact, the global online gambling and betting market is set to be worth $94.4 billion by 2024 with a growth rate of 10.9% between 2018 and 2024.

When it comes to the legalization of online gambling in the United States, the Supreme Court has already ruled out on the Professional and Amateur Sporting Protection Act, which prohibited betting on sporting events in almost all states. Starting this year, online betting will already be available across the country, which could open up a $5.2 billion market once legalization is finalized.

What is the future of online gambling? No one really knows for sure. But if there is one thing that online gambling fans can hope for, it is the fact that more lawmakers are now realizing how online casinos are just a great form of entertainment and if regulated properly, it wouldn’t bring any harm to the public.

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