When most people think about the many ways in which computers and the Internet have changed the way we live, play and interact on a daily basis, they tend to think of things like social media and video games. Thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites, we spend more time online than ever before. Throw video games into the mix and it’s easy to see why so many people have stopped thinking about the personal computer or laptop sitting in their house as a productivity tool. It’s essentially become an entertainment portal.
One of the things that gets lost among the fascination with social media growth and massive multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORGs) like World of Warcraft is another kind of web-based entertainment: gambling. The Internet, modern web technologies and the capabilities of personal computers have combined, resulting in an explosive growth in online gambling.
It’s hard to picture it today, but flash back to the early 1990s and consider the options that were available for people who enjoy recreational gambling.
And even in a large casino like those in Orillia and Niagara Falls (even across the border in Las Vegas and Atlantic City) had a limited number of different games to play. Unless someone happened to live nearby, typical casino outings involved an organized bus trip or a weekend getaway. For someone who enjoys the thrill and competition that only gambling offers, that was too infrequent.
Where to turn for a challenging game of chance nearby? In the early 1990s and before, this might have meant looking around the neighborhood for a poker game. This was often easier said than done. Playing poker for money was illegal in many jurisdictions, so the games were held in secret. Because of the legal issues, it was often difficult to tell just who was actually running these matches too. And even if you won a big payday, collecting could be tough since there was no formal organization that was overseeing the gaming; it’s not like a shortchanged winner could go to the police with a complaint. Another option was looking for a bar that offered a video slot machine, but this meant paying for drinks and being surrounded by a bunch of people who were there for a night out. It didn’t make for the most enjoyable experience.
Everything changed in 1995, when the first online casino opened. It was a first step, mind you, the Internet was just becoming publicly accessible and web browsers weren’t mainstream for a few more years. However, it was the beginning of a revolution. Online gambling soon began to grow in popularity. It offered everything that casinos did (although in a crudely animated form), gave the ability to join in on a poker game on a whim and did so with a level of convenience that was unprecedented. No travel, no being surrounded by crowds and no worries about a game being broken up. Players could relax in the comfort of their own homes and enjoy a game of chance without distraction.
The years since those first online casinos have seen rapid evolution in the industry that has led to a far more compelling experience.
Gameplay has improved exponentially. Thanks to high speed Internet connections and advances in computer capabilities, online casinos are able to offer a far greater range of games than ever before and every element is more realistic —the visuals and the sounds are lifelike and offer the excitement of gambling from the comfort of home. Some leading online casinos today offer 500 different games or more!
Web security protocols have improved dramatically as well and playing online at a reputable site ensures that transactions and financial information are secure and protected. Customer service has also become more important than ever to online casino operators as players demand a safe, secure environment.
Because players are dealing with a professionally run business, they can count on being able to easily cash out with their winnings. And speaking of winning, the amounts of money being won have also increased significantly. One Canadian online poker player from London, Ontario has accumulated winnings in the million dollar range.
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