Online gambling has come an awful long way in a relatively short period of time. The internet didn’t burst into the mainstream until the 1990s, and over the last 25-plus years we have seen online gambling explode into one of the fastest-growing industries on earth. Needless to say, gambling has changed quite a bit since the advent of the internet.

Now, instead of having to travel to the nearest casino to get your gambling fix, you don’t even have to leave your house in order to win some money. Technological advancements have led to a steady rise in popularity for all forms of online gambling. Nowadays, you can play poker, blackjack, baccarat or any other casino game you want over the internet. You can also bet on sports online, which is an industry that is on the verge of a massive boom in the United States.

The Evolution of Online Gambling

Online Poker, Where It All Started

The internet has literally transformed every facet of our lives over the last couple of decades. Education, entertainment, work and hobbies all center around the internet these days. Obviously, that pertains to gambling, as well.

Online poker was particularly popular in the mid-2000s. From 2003 to 2006, internet poker was all the rage. The player pool for online poker reportedly doubled in size with each passing year back then. The World Series of Poker telecasts and the launch of several online poker platforms led to a surge in popularity for the game. If you were around back then you may remember pro poker player Chris Moneymaker, who won the 2003 World Series of Poker after winning his seat at the event in a satellite tournament on the PokerStars online poker room.

There were around 840 participants in the 2003 World Series of Poker. The very next year, the event tripled in size to include over 2,500 players. The 2006 WSOP had nearly 8,800 entrants, which is about 14 times the amount that entered the competition in 2002.

Poker Declines

Millions of people all over the world played poker online for money in the mid-2000s, thanks in large part to the fact that online gambling was largely unregulated by the U.S. government. However, a crackdown came in 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law in the United States. A number of online poker sites, including industry leader Party Poker, was forced to cease operation in the U.S. The number of entrants in the World Series of Poker also steadily declined after that, starting as soon as 2007.

In 2011, a high-profile lawsuit was filed by the United States against 3 of the largest online poker companies. PokerStars, Cereus and Full Tilt Poker and a number of associated sites were accused of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The suit alleges that the companies engaged in bank fraud and money laundering in order to process transactions to and from players on their respective websites.

The indictment was officially unsealed on April 15, 2011, a day that unofficially became known as “Black Friday” in the online poker community. PokerStars and Full Tilt subsequently stopped offering paid contests to U.S.-based customers. Shortly thereafter, Congress passed a law that made processing payments for online gambling a crime. The lawsuit was ultimately resolved in a settlement.

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Online Gambling Still Thriving Despite Pokers Fall

While the online poker boom is in the rearview mirror at this point, the online gambling industry is still alive and well. There are still no laws in place in most states that prohibit American players from placing online bets at sites that operate offshore. So, it is not technically against the law to do so in most of the country. As a result, there are tons of gambling operators populating the web nowadays.

Because there are so many online gambling entities, it can be easy to lose track of those that are operating with your best interests in mind. The most important aspect of gambling online is safety. Unfortunately, there are plenty of shady sites out there that are simply looking for ways to take your money. That said, it is generally pretty easy to separate the legitimate sites from the sketchy ones. This full list of online gambling site reviews is a useful tool for helping you find the site that best suits your needs.

The rise of sports betting is the latest and most important gambling development in the U.S. since the fall of the online poker industry. In May of 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional. That decision cleared the way for states to decide individually whether to offer legalized sports betting. Prior to the ruling, Nevada was the only state in the country with fully legal sports betting.

Since then, a handful of states have legalized sports betting, while more will be doing the same in the months and years ahead. Some of those states have already launched legal online sports betting operations that are regulated by the state governments. So, the states are getting a piece of the pie as a way of generating additional revenue that did not exist when sports betting was illegal. Because states stand to make quite a bit of money by legalizing the activity, it’s safe to expect sports betting to become legal on a broad scale over the course of the next decade in the U.S.

Online gambling has changed a lot over the years. The proliferation of mobile betting is perhaps one of the most noteworthy advancements. Developments in smartphone technology have made it to where you can easily place sports bets or play casino games without even having to leave your house. The best betting sites have all developed companion mobile apps that make it easy for players to access their accounts from their phones or tablets.

Technology has changed the way we live our lives, and that includes the way we gamble. The stigma that has long existed with regard to gambling is changing quickly, especially in the United States. As laws grow more and more lax when it comes to enforcement, it’s safe to assume we are going to continue to see massive growth in the industry in the coming years. Sports betting will be the primary beneficiary, but it won’t be long until all online casino games have worked their way into the mainstream.