Online gambling is defined as an activity wherein you wager or bet money in a virtual or online space instead of the regular land-based or traditional casinos. Naturally, this includes all the casino games you can think of, such as poker, slots, and more. Gambling has been a major part of many people’s lives, but how did it all start? states that this particular industry has been around for a very long time—specifically, online gambling began sometime in the mid-1990s. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s when online casinos really hit it off and were regarded as legit businesses with controls and player protection.

Ever since the online gambling industry had its start several years ago, it was able to reach multiple major milestones to mark its place in history. As a matter of fact, the online casino industry—in general—is expected to be worth over $94 billion by the time 2024 rolls around. That’s an incredible amount!

Of course, the hobby or activity known as gambling has started way before online gambling did; a long time before the 1990s, to be precise. If you’re an avid punter, it’s good to be familiar with the history of your favorite activity and how it all began.

The History of Gambling

If you’re fond of reading or learning about history, then you’ll definitely feel fascinated with the history of gambling. This may come as a surprise to some, but gambling has been around ever since humans began walking the earth. What do we mean by this? Well, think about it: why exactly do people gamble? For one thing, these people enjoy the thrill and the adrenaline rush they get whenever they take a risk and make bets—ultimately leading to a more intense feeling of joy whenever they win.

According to studies, the first signs of gambling took place all the way back to the Paleolithic period, a time when humans initially began using stone tools. Specifically, the earliest six-sided dice can be traced back to Mesopotamia in 3,000 BC, which is where countries like Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq are now situated.

On the other hand, gambling houses gained popularity in China around 1,000 years BC. In these gambling houses, people enjoyed playing domino games and the lotto as a hobby or simply to pass the time. In fact, they could even bet on fighting animals if they wanted a more enthralling activity to wager money on.

Not to mention the fact that the very first playing cards initially appeared in China sometime around the 9th century. Moving on to 17th century Persia, studies discovered that the roots of Poker, one of the most popular card games in the entire world, could be traced all the way back to this point in time. However, it was known as As-Nas during that time and not the Poker we know today.

In 1638, Venice established the very first legal casino that was open to the public—this was known as II Ridotto. As for Canada, gambling was actually legal up until the 1950s. However, even though it was legal, people viewed gambling as a disreputable pastime. For several years, there were various small yet illicit casinos that were established throughout Canada over the years, but it wasn’t until 1989 when the country’s very first commercial casino was established in Winnipeg.

Several years after—1993—another commercial casino opened up in Montreal. Many other casinos followed suit soon after.

2019 statistics showed that about 76% of Canadians participate in some form of gambling, and more and more people have moved this hobby to online platforms, wherein players can easily access a massive library of casino games with the tap of a finger.

The History of Online Gambling

The very first nation to regulate online gambling was Barbuda and Antigua in 1994, back during a time when the internet became completely commercialized. After the Free Trade and Processing Act was passed, these Caribbean nations offered licenses to various companies that wished to provide gambling services to interested punters via online casinos.

That being said, how far back can we trace the history of online gambling specifically? After extensive research, we’ve found that the very first form of online casino can be traced back to 1996—this was when the InterCasino was initially established. This is a significant moment in history because InterCasino was the official start of this popular form of online entertainment.

Sometime during the same year, the Mohawk Territory Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established. This was created to regulate and license online casinos and poker rooms, which were beginning to thrive during that time. Not only that but the now popular Swedish developer NetEnt and the Isle of Man-based Microgaming were launched around this time, both of which later created some of the most popular and innovative online casino games out there today.

By 1997, gambling websites have grown tremendously to over 200 to what just used to be 15 in 1996. Online gambling took the world by storm, and Planet Poker introduced the initial online versions of popular casino games such as Texas Hold’em. Online gambling advanced even more by 1999, as multiplayer gaming was introduced to players. This allowed online players to chat and interact with other players in an online environment.

What’s the Future of Online Gambling?

As you can see, the history of gambling was a wild ride, but what does the future hold for this industry? Well, as of 2019, Statista states that the size of the online casino market is nearly $46 billion. Given how popular online gambling is today, we don’t see it dying down anytime soon. As mentioned, we believe that this industry’s market will reach $94 billion by 2024, and we know that this number will continue to balloon with every passing year.


Without a doubt, online gambling is here to stay. This particular industry has come a long way and it will continue to grow and thrive in the following years. The future of the online gambling industry is a very bright one for sure, and we look forward to seeing how it improves.