I remember fondly the days of my first Atari game sessions! Does that take you back in time? Nearly as soon as personal/home computers came into existence, games began to pop up. First came solitaire, of course, packaged or available for nearly every Radio Shack, Commodore, and Atari computer on the market. With card playing then available, could poker and blackjack be far behind? Of course not. Developers understood very quickly that computers were ripe for entertainment value and family fun (not to mention that these games would put money in their pockets). All this began to unfold long before the internet was even a glimmer in eyes of most of us. As computers became more powerful, with more enhanced graphics and memory, personal computer games became an industry in themselves, with new offerings and entire companies responding to the call for this new form of entertainment. Popularity of the computers and games generated a market that developers and software companies responded to with a vengeance. With a market established, and public demand confirmed, a broader scope of games began rolling out into the hands of anticipating consumers. Games such as roulette, poker, and blackjack were soon entertaining home computer owners around the globe, and it was only the mid 1980’s! (Yes, I’m dating myself, but these are fond memories, nonetheless). How Did We Get Where We Are Now? In the late 1980’s, the internet began to take shape, and by the mid 1990’s, life as we knew it changed forever. This is when creative entrepreneurs began to utilize this world-wide-web phenomenon as a way to communicate with each other, and to promote and sell services. Amazon, eBay, and so many others began to change the way the public bought and sold products, and PayPal came along to help consumers pay for goods and services without leaving the comfort of their own homes. As the popularity of the web grew exponentially, other businesses saw opportunities to reach consumers. Casinos have been fascinating and entertaining patrons for many years. With the new-found ability to reach markets world-wide, where no casino access had ever been available or convenient, the internet was quickly recognized as an untapped market to be explored. By 1996, the first digital casinos began to arrive on the internet, providing the excitement of brick-and-mortar casinos, without the need to travel, or even leave your home. By 1998, dozens of internet casinos had appeared on the scene, some offering a limited range of games to patrons, but others offering an impressive variety. These online casinos provided their patrons with many of the benefits and enticements of terrestrial casinos, including perks, bonuses, and of course the chance to hit ‘the big one’ with real money! Slots, video poker, roulette, and other table games such as blackjack and poker, became nearly as realistic as ‘being there’. Today, there are an estimated 300,000+ internet casinos available to select from, and more opening their ‘doors’ all the time. Some offer over 200 games of different varieties, providing entertainment and gaming excitement for nearly every taste. Over 4.5 million consumers actively patronize online casino gaming sites, about half being US residents. Additionally, over 12 million have played internet casino games, at some time. What’s Next for the Market, and the Consumer? Casinos on the internet continue to grow in popularity. As in any business, some cease operations, but the industry as a whole continues to grow. Online poker alone is estimated to be a $15 billion industry world-wide, with $6 billion generated in the US alone. The number of patrons also continues to increase, with some of the larger casinos counting their depositing players at over 3 million. Software industry demands have also increased, as casino players continue to search for a wide variety of options in their play, with high-quality graphics, animation, and audio effects. These demands spur creativity for software developers and casino business operators alike. Competition breeds originality and quality, such that casinos continually search for ways to make the gaming experience for their players unique and rewarding. As in earthbound casinos, part of the experience is making the customer feel valuable to the casino. This includes providing a pleasurable gaming session, with a variety of exciting games to choose from, ease of play, and rewards such as bonuses or free play earnings. Direct feedback and the ability to communicate with other players can also add to the overall experience, providing the gamer with a social atmosphere, similar to what they would experience in a physical casino environment. Consumer demand will certainly drive the future of the industry. Based on the past twenty years, the future indeed looks bright for online casino gaming, as software developers create unique exciting games, and casinos provide an entertaining, adrenaline-generating gaming experience.