The Growth of Online Gambling: how has it evolved throughout the years?

Online gambling has been around for decades, thanks to the introduction of computers and the rapid rise of the internet. As is the case with several industries, the internet has had a massive impact on the growth of online gambling. In fact, we live in a time where the younger generation of gamblers has never even experienced a world without online gambling.

What started as something relatively basic has transformed into a worldwide industry, worth billions. This is primarily due to incredibly advanced technology being introduced over time. This technology has been key in increasing competition and thus, improving quality for players. 

Throughout this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the different factors that have caused online gambling to grow to the extent that it has, and in turn, how online gambling has changed as a result of this. This consists of:

  1. Technological Advancements
  2. Increased Competition
  3. More Legislation
  4. Predictions for The Future of Online Gambling

But first, let us start by explaining the rich history of online gambling.

The History of Online Gambling

Let us go back to the very beginning. Online gambling first became a real thing at some point during the 90’s. Despite real money casinos being available, poker started out as the most popular type of game in the online gambling industry. 

You might also be interested to know that in 1994, Microgaming was one of the very first to open an online casino. Today, everyone is aware of Microgaming as one of the top software providers in the online gambling industry. Microgaming is one of the providers that deserve a lot of credit for what they have brought to the online gambling industry throughout its growth and development.

During the 2000s the industry began to truly explode in direct correlation with advancements in online technology. More specifically, the industry started to witness hundreds of gambling sites and game providers pop up.

Players could then play any game they wanted to, such as poker, slots, jackpots, as well as bet on sports. We saw increased innovation when it came to game quality, bonus offers. We then witnessed the introduction of mobile gaming, virtual reality, increased payment options, more licenses, and so much more.

Now that we have outlined the history of online gambling and where it all started, let us discuss the several factors that have contributed to the evolution of the online gambling industry.

Technological Advancements

As the years went on and the internet began to advance rapidly, online gambling saw a tremendous increase in popularity. Thanks to advancements in technology, operators and game providers in casino and sports betting were able to continuously improve their offerings to players.

Mobile Gambling

Mobile phones have advanced to such an extent that they have become an absolute necessity for everybody. The technology has advanced at such a rapid rate that you can essentially perform any task that you could previously only do using a computer. Mobiles have had a positive impact on almost all industries, and online gambling is no different.

In the early 2000s, mobile gambling was first made possible through the invention of the 3G connection. It was not long before smartphones were introduced, which allowed people to start downloading their favourite casino games and betting apps through an app store. Having these platforms directly available in their own app made things even more simplified.

With breakneck internet speeds, individuals can remain connected wherever they may be. This opened the door for gambling operators to optimise their platforms to suit mobile users. By making online gambling accessible in any given area, the number of players on a platform at any specific time has increased.

For example, players who favour sports betting can now benefit from placing bets on games whilst out with their friends, increasing the sociability aspect of online betting. What’s more, slots, poker, jackpot games, and almost all other types of betting are just as accessible and safe to play through mobile.

Product Innovation

Another significant aspect that has caused the online gambling industry to evolve so much is the continuous ambition to innovate products.

Online casinos have gone from offering simple 2D slot and poker games to offering highly immersive, 3D experiences that can give players the feeling that they are playing video games.

Slot games are no longer basic “fruit machines”. Better yet, slots now arrive in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Players can pick the perfect slot according to their taste as all top online casinos now offer slots based on top TV shows, movies, celebrities, as well as an endless list of different themes.

Moreover, most online casinos now also have a ‘Live’ section, where players can sit at a virtual table with a live dealer and other players. The sheer level of detail within these games is something that would have been inconceivable just over a decade ago.

Virtual Reality

Speaking of innovation and immersion, virtual reality casinos are now a thing. While being fantastic as a concept, this technology still has a long way to go before it becomes a widespread service.

The reason for this is that the equipment is far too costly for most but delivers a fantastic experience for those who love to attend land-based casinos. Plus, considering that we are stuck in a pandemic, for the time being, VR would be an excellent alternative for some. It just goes to show how far online gambling technology has come in such a short space of time.


Payment processing in the online gambling industry has also evolved for the better. As opposed to only being able to fund a betting account through a credit card, or third party, players' lives have been made easier through the introduction of e-wallets.

E-wallets such as Neteller, PayPal, and Skrill as some of the most popular and trustworthy payment methods amongst the gambling industry today. These services ensure that players do not risk their funds being lost or stolen. This ultimately makes e-wallets another reason for the evolution and increased quality of the online gambling industry.

So, what is the main reason behind the motivation to adopt such advanced technology in the gambling industry? 

More Industry Competition

In any industry, the reason for such continuous efforts to improve quality and raise standards is due to one thing, increased competition.

As mentioned earlier, online gambling began with just a small number of platforms that offered relatively basic versions of games to players. As time went on, the range of online casinos, sports betting sites and software providers increased.

With more and more gambling operators available to players, these operators had to start doing more to retain the attention of their players or risk losing them to their competitors. This is a good thing, as without healthy competition, the industry would be at risk of stagnating.

Betting Operators and Software Providers

With hundreds of operators both in the online casino and the sports betting sector, players are quite simply spoiled for choice.

Moreover, these operators all offer the best games from the best providers. And, unlike in the past, software providers do not remain exclusive to any particular casino. Instead, most casinos all have the best games from all of these providers, as this is the only way that they can remain competitive.

To sum up this section, operators at the very least need to offer:

  1. The best software providers
  2. The best games
  3. Regular tournaments, bonuses, and offers (apart from situations where this is prohibited by legislation, as is the case in Sweden)
  4. A great platform that’s easy to use
  5. Great customer support

Offering the above can be considered as the minimum requirements for players when selecting a casino. This indeed shows the difference between today and when online gambling started, back when players had to take what they were offered. Today, it’s players who dictate what they want and need, and if a particular operator does not provide all these things, they will register on any of the other hundreds of platforms available.

Moreover, the online gambling industry has become increasingly regulated. This brings us to our next point, legislation.


Proper legislation has been key to the growth and success of the online gambling industry. As is the case with most things, the early days tend to have less regulation. This was the case in online gambling, which meant that players were not very protected.

Today, the story is very different. Many countries have their own gambling regulators and licenses in place according to their country or state laws. These regulations were put in place to ensure that anyone operating within the online gambling industry adheres to specific standards.

One should also note that the industry was very small initially, and thus the need for more legislation only arose once more operators began setting up shop. And, as a result of such legislation, players can have peace of mind whilst spending their free time on gambling sites. 

What Does the Future Hold?

To quickly recap, we first discussed the history of online gambling, followed by the technological advancements that have been made so far. We then moved on to why these technological advancements were necessary by discussing the impact of increased competition. Lastly, due to increased competition, the industry needed better regulation in the form of legislation and licensing for operators.

So what does the future of online gambling look like? In terms of market worth, the online gambling industry is set to be worth up to $127.3 Billion By 2027, according to a study conducted by Grand View Research.

As smartphones become easier to use, internet speeds become faster, products like live casinos and virtual reality will significantly improve. What’s more is that the demand for online gambling has increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic, causing the industry to gain even more traction.