Online casino games have come a very long way in the last few years. In the early days, just a generation or two past, if you wanted to play casino games you needed to visit a brick-and-mortar casino.
This was true for players all over the world, from US players whose only choice was to drop-by the City of Sin, to players in Europe who had a little more choice at their disposal.
The advent of online casino gaming changed all of that. It created an option that simply wasn’t there before, allowing players to gamble directly from the comfort of their own homes and their own devices. These games put the player in control. They no longer needed to dress in their best dress or tux, they no longer needed to withdraw hundreds or thousands of dollars and exchange them for chips at the start of the night. It stopped being an occasion and started being just another option in a player’s everyday life.
And it was fantastic.
But casinos went through a lot of changes to make it this far. It didn’t happen overnight, far from it. These days you can play all kinds of games on all kinds of devices. You can play with everything from PayPal and Skrill, right on through to digital currencies like Bitcoin. The options are endless, but they came gradually.
These big changes essentially occurred in three waves, which is what we’ll discuss in this article.
The Early Days and the Download Casino
The very first online casinos tried to replicate land-based casinos. The slots, table games, perks—the goal was to create something that would allow people to easily transition from one to the other.
However, this happened at a time when people were still very cautious about spending money online. The very first e-Commerce sites had to set-up call centres just so customers could call them and place an order. They basically used their websites as virtual catalogues and completely circumvented the order process, even though it was much easier for them.
Some online casinos would do the same thing, allowing customers to deposit by the phone, but that still required a level of trust that simply wasn’t there, and it wasn’t the only issue they had. They were also reliant on downloadable casino software, and this was in a time of slow connection and dial-up modems.
Players could spend an hour or two downloading the software, just to get something that crashed and lagged a lot as it struggled to keep pace on a slow modem. And because there weren’t many players and the servers were expensive to maintain, casinos had to get creative. They began offering freebies, just like they do now, and they did this to get more downloads of their software.
When they noticed that people still weren’t depositing, even after their freebies had been used up, they took to adding bloatware to the casinos. This meant that the average player was hit will all kinds of toolbars, pop-ups, and unnecessary software, which destroyed the little trusted had been established.
The Instant Play Innovation
The first biggest innovation came when developers dropped the download casino and switched everything to Flash. This meant that all games could be played directly in the browser. This added more strain to the servers and the bandwidth, but by this time the technology was a lot cheaper and better and the casinos didn’t suffer. The general public had also gotten rid of their fear of spending money online and it was much more common than it had been.
Casinos now had the money and to be a little more creative and to take more of the burden, and this did this by making most of their games available in most browsers. This truly was a big win for them, because by this time players had become fed-up with the bloatware and malware and simply didn’t trust download casinos.
Some still offered their software in this form and even now some casinos still do this, but it stopped being the only way to play and when that happened the industry changed instantly and for the better.
The Mobile Revolution
The final innovation, the third-wave if you will, came with the release of the iPhone. This kick-started a huge revolution in the online space and within three years, by 2010, more and more people were shopping and chatting online.
The online gambling sector were quick to take advantage of this and many major developers began offering their games in mobile form. These games were initially available through apps, but this caused an issue with Apple and Google, American companies that haven’t always looked fondly on real money gambling.
As before, the answer was instant play. This meant that players no longer needed to download the app. They could simply visit a mobile optimised website and play directly through there.
Before long, the power of these devices improved and their capabilities improved with them. By 2016, there were more mobile internet users than desktop ones, which forced all providers and developers to take notice. Not only did they cater for this new wave of player, but they focused almost entirely on them, often to the point where they neglected desktop players.
This is because not only were mobile players in a much larger demographic, but they were also more valuable. They took their phones everywhere with them and were able to gamble at all hours of the day, as opposed to the few hours on a night-time that the desktop user may have gambled.
The Future of Casino Games
It’s hard to know exactly what the future of online gambling will look like, but there is a good chance that it will involve virtual reality gambling slots and table games in some form. This has been considered a novelty and a gimmick in the past, but the technology is sound right now and if they find a way to integrate this into an online casino then it should attract some extra players.
It probably won’t be that much of a change though as it will be a little slower and more frustrating for some users. But it’s not the only major change that we could see in the future.
In the future, bonus features in slot machines could be more interactive, allowing players to take more control. Again, this has already happened to an extent, but it just hasn’t taken off.
Whatever happens, we could be months away from the next major change, the fourth wave of casino game gambling, and we for one look forward to that happening.