Although most hesitate to pin down a number, some sources suggest online gambling brought in around 30 billion dollars in 2013. With a global presence, hundreds, if not thousands, of remote casinos, and millions of players, it seems it has been around forever. Oddly enough, people have only been legally betting for a couple of decades, though, and it all began on a couple of tiny Caribbean Islands. Free Trade and Processing Act If online gambling were a person, it still might not be old enough to play in a remote casino in some jurisdictions today. In 1994, the Nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed new legislation called the Free Trade and Processing Act. This was groundbreaking news across the world, because Antigua and Barbuda were the very first places to allow online casinos. Naturally, the act still stipulated specific guidelines and licensure requirements, but for the very first time anywhere in the world, Internet betting venues were legally permitted. It didn’t take long at all before the initial gaming company threw its hat in the ring. First Online Casino While it’s still heavily debated which company is truly the original, most signs point to Microgaming. In 1995, The Gaming Club, featuring Microgaming’s casino games was launched. Both companies are still in business today. Microgaming has gone on to provide some of the biggest payouts in online gaming history and has delivered popular slots like Mega Moolah, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Playboy. The Gaming Club now hosts a massive array of games and is known for having good payouts. It’s also highly respected in the industry and provides service in numerous languages, as well as transactions in multiple currencies. InterCasino opened about a year after The Gaming Club. They’re also often referred to as the first online casino, because they were the first to be able to accept cash wagers online using WagerLogic/CryptoLogic software. They, too, have grown huge, earned a solid reputation, and are still going strong. First Internet Sports Betting Venue Intertops had already been in the business of sportsbook for more than a decade when they launched the original online sportsbook in 1996. The initial bet netted the winner a whopping two-dollars, and Intertops continued to grow and develop from there. They went on to open the first mobile betting site in 2000, and the first provider of multiple casino games on one site in 2003. They are also still in business. First Net Poker Rooms Throughout the mid-to-late 1990’s, online casinos became big business. Poker was the next big breakthrough, with Planet Poker accepting the first cash bets in 1998. About a year after Planet Poker opened, Paradise Poker launched. Shortly after that, Planet Poker was hacked and the criminals learned how to tell which cards were about to be dealt. This didn’t put an end to the business entirely, but it allowed companies that opened later, like Paradise Poker, Party Poker, and Poker Stars, to gain a stronger foothold. Planet Poker is still open, but they only provide free-play games via download. The other three are still in business today. By the time the 1990’s began to fade, Internet gambling was a global billion-dollar business with more than 8 million betters. Legislation Changes As the industry boomed and 2000 came, many countries began to set legislation that made online betting officially legal. Gibraltar and The Isle of Man began licensing remote casinos. At about the same time, Australia passed a law that made it illegal to open new internet casinos within the country. This left them with a single operator that could not accept bets from Australians. In 2002, the US ruled that the 1961 Federal Wire Act outlawed online bets and wagers. It wasn’t long after that most betting firms pulled out of the US. Most of those that stayed were prosecuted. Today, there are numerous organizations that license remote betting operations in various jurisdictions. For the most part, there seems to be a consensus that it should be legal, though the details are still being ironed out. Online gambling has had many other firsts. There was also the original internet bingo game in 1996, played on a site called Bingo Zone. It’s still alive and well, too, by the way. The year 2012 saw the launch of Facebook’s first real-money gambling app... Bingo Friendzy, put out by Gamesys, only lasted about two years before it was pulled. As the industry continues to grow and change, it’s certain to create many more “firsts.” Social gaming has taken the world by storm, as has mobile gaming. Perhaps one of those will produce some exciting new things. With many innovative and experienced companies in the industry, there’s really no telling what they’ll come up with next.