Digital Dice: A Brief History of Online Gambling


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The idea of gambling and the Internet, despite the popularity of Internet gambling sites, are far cries from one another. The former evokes images of suave suited men weighed down by necklaces and watches of gold, beautiful women bringing you champagne bottles in a casino jam packed by hopeful souls looking to get past their losing streak, and the adrenalin rush of a winning hand at a game of blackjack. The latter, on the other hand, normally has negative connotations and stereotypes such as unwashed shut-ins, pursuits and hobbies that are out of this world, and – most recently – memes.

So how did these two very separate ideas come to collide into one another to form one of the most profitable and widely known industries the modern world has ever come to bear witness to?

To understand how online gambling began, we have to go back to the 1990s. To be specific, we have to take a look at the year 1994. It was this year that the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed a law that was called the Free Trade and Processing Act. This act allowed the nation to bestow licenses on organizations who were interested in starting online casinos.


By its lonesome, the Free Trade and Processing Act would only have been a minor change in the history of online gambling. What made it so revolutionary was that at around the same time, an integral part of online gambling’s technological aspect was formed. Microgaming, a company that revolutionized the software that was used for online games, was created.

In the next years, it was believed that Microgaming entered into collaboration with another company called CryptoLogic. While both were organizations focused on practical uses and applications of software, CryptoLogic added a bit more to the equation by helping Microgaming establish a method for online financial transactions that were safe and secure enough to be used in online gambling.

Not long after these companies shipped out their software, online casinos started coming out of the woodwork.

In one of many attempts t standardize online gambling practices; the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was founded in 1996. This organization regulated online gaming activity that fell under the jurisdiction of the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake and granted licenses to numerous global and international online casinos. This was done with the purpose of keeping the latter’s operations transparent, fair, and most of all, accountable.

Not all legal action regarding online casinos and Internet gambling was favourable, though. Two notable pieces of legislation against online gambling were the United States’ Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Australian federal government’s Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act.


For the first act, it was not the act of online gambling that was outlawed, but rather the process of paying for these gambling transactions for U.S. citizens. It was inherently confusing and flawed, which led many gambling businesses leaving the United States for fear of government action against them.

The Australian act is more direct, outright outlawing any and all online casinos that existed before May 2000. With this stipulation, only the organization Lasseter’s Online was able to operate legally in Australie, with the caveat that it is disallowed from taking bets by the country’s citizens.

So, despite all the mixed reactions and controversy relating to Internet gambling, we still have online casinos like Netbet that exist for your gambling pleasure. With this knowledge being imparted to you, the next time you log in to your favourite website for your latest gambling fix will be tinged with a sense of wonder on how far we’ve truly come in terms of bringing a decades-old industry from the physical to the digital field.

At least, up until you start losing on those poker hands and need to knuckle down like a boss.