Online casinos definitely aren’t the same as when they started out in the mid-1990s. They’ve changed drastically in a number of ways for the better.
Nowadays, you can look forward to well-organized gaming sites that are available through your smartphone or tablet. You’ll also benefit from the countless games and big jackpots offered at online casinos.
But how did internet gaming get to this point? Below, I’ll discuss five of the biggest inventions that greatly impacted online casinos.
1 – Online Progressive Slots
Progressive slot machines were nothing new when internet casinos launched in 1994. International Gaming Technology (IGT) released the first wide-area progressive slot machine in 1987.
However, the online gaming world didn’t feature a single progressive slot in its first few years of existence. Microgaming changed all of this in 1997, though, when they dropped Cash Splash.
Cash Splash is no doubt a rudimentary game by today’s standards. It’s a classic slot that features three reels and one payline.
Nevertheless, Cash Splash made its mark by introducing the first progressive slot. Since then, the jackpots have only gotten bigger and better.
Microgaming is still leading the jackpot department. Its Mega Moolah game has delivered a record online slots payouts worth $21 million.
You can find plenty of other big jackpot slots through various online slots developers. Here are five of the most-popular progressive games today along with their current jackpot values:
- Shopping Spree (RTG/Bovada) – $5,401,283
- Jackpot Giant (Playtech) – $5,332,965
- Jackpot King (Blueprint/PaddyPower) – $4,947,658
- Aladdin’s Lamp (GTECH/Casino Club) – $4,489,792
- Aztec’s Millions (RTG) – $3,920,192
Before progressive prizes, online gamblers were only able to play for fixed jackpots worth around 10,000 coins or less. Progressive games changed this by giving casinos the ability to offer life-changing money. In turn, many players rushed to play for jackpots worth six or even seven figures.
2 – Instant Play Casinos
The earliest internet casinos featured download software. The latter refers to software that you must download through a computer before being able to play at a casino.
Software packages were a necessary evil when online gambling first began. After all, casinos needed a way to make their games available to players.
The problem with these packages, though, is that they take several minutes to download—even more in the internet’s earlier days. Furthermore, they also take up space on your hard drive.
An instant play casino doesn’t require you to download anything before playing. Instead, you can enjoy games directly through your web browser.
The first instant play gaming sites became available in the mid-2000s. However, the transition from download to instant play casinos was a slow one.
Eventually, though, every operator got on board with this trend. They realized that their customers would rather start playing right away, rather than download a package. Today, it’s difficult to find casinos that still offer download software.
3 – Live Dealer Casinos
The big knock against internet gaming used to be that it didn’t offer an authentic experience. Instead, it was strictly limited to virtual table games and slots.
Of course, virtual table games are still quite popular today. Many players feel that software-generated blackjack or roulette are close enough to the real deal.
But there are also gamblers who crave the land-based gaming feel from their computer or smartphone. These players now look towards live dealer casinos for this experience.
Again proving to be an innovator, Microgaming launched the first live casino in 2006. They debuted this type of gambling with live baccarat.
As you may know, live gaming sites stream action directly from a brick-and-mortar studio to your phone or PC. Therefore, you’ll enjoy many elements of a land-based casino, including the dealer, table, and cards.
Microgaming’s live baccarat proved a mild success. It encouraged plenty of other game developers to go down this path.
But live dealer gambling was initially held back by slow internet connections and a lack of game variety. For years, most operators only offered baccarat, blackjack, and/or roulette.
Online connections are much better now than they were 15 years ago. Furthermore, the selection of live dealer casino games has grown by quite a bit.
4 – Smartphones
I’ve covered some revolutionary developments in the gaming space so far. But the biggest invention to impact the industry came from outside of online gaming.
The smartphone has proven the most effective at boosting internet gambling. It allows people to enjoy casino games at any time through their phones.
Prior to the smartphone, players simply used standard mobile phones to do their gaming. Mobile phones provided a new convenience that gamblers didn’t previously have.
The problem with mobile gambling at the time, though, is that it featured lagging gameplay and low-quality graphics. Phones at the time weren’t quite what they are today.
Apple started a revolution in this industry, though, when they released the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone quickly surpassed blackberries and became the go-to smartphone.
Players finally had devices that could offer better visual displays and handle faster internet speeds. Thanks to constant improvements in smartphones, most gamblers were playing through their phones by the mid-2010s.
These days, it’s standard for people to play at mobile online casinos using their smartphone instead of a PC or Mac. After all, everybody wants to fit the casino in their pocket rather than lugging around a laptop.
5 – Bitcoin
Bitcoin hasn’t necessarily changed casino games like other inventions on this list. However, it has given numerous gamblers a better way to deposit at gaming sites.
Some countries feature restrictive laws on internet gaming. The United States and its UIGEA provide a perfect example.
The UIGEA doesn’t outlaw online gambling in the US. However, it does discourage payment processors from working with offshore casinos.
Given that internet gambling isn’t illegal, many Americans still like to play at offshore sites. But they don’t have many payment options due to the UIGEA.
Credit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, are commonly available at US-facing casinos. However, credit-card casino deposits are rejected around 50% of the time by the issuing bank.
Bitcoin provides a perfect workaround to this issue. It’s a decentralized cryptocurrency that isn’t controlled by a bank or government.
Therefore, you can deposit and withdraw money through Bitcoin when doing so isn’t always possible. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about a bank rejecting your BTC deposit.
The one problem that you may have includes getting comfortable with using this cryptocurrency. But as you’ll see here, bitcoin isn’t extremely difficult to make deposits with.
It might seem like the gaming world has already gone through lots of innovation. However, there are no doubt future inventions that’ll impact online casinos in a big way.
Virtual reality could potentially be a gamechanger at some point down the road. It has the ability to make internet gambling feel more lifelike than ever before.
Smart glasses could be another interesting development that impacts gaming positively. They may be more convenient than having to hold and gamble through a smartphone.
Of course, nobody truly knows the future for online gambling. That said, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next decade or so.