A Look Back at the History of Online Casinos

History of Online Casinos

The Internet, as we know it today, has been around for less than 30 years. It has reshaped our society in many ways. The entertainment industry is just one of the many sectors that were revolutionized by the World Wide Web. All the different games we could only play in person, are now available on the web, including casino games.

If you look back at the history of online casinos, you’ll see that regulated gambling in the US has gone through a long and winding path to get where it is today.

News Highlights

  • The road to legal online casinos has been long and complicated.
  • Several US states today offer legal online gambling.
  • What does the future hold for online casino betting?

The Dawn of Online Gambling

The World Wide Web opened its doors back in the early 1990s, and the world has ever been the same. Who would’ve thought that today, 30 years later, we would be able to play and bet at an online casino with a simple click on our smartphone?

The First Online Casino Site

InterCasino Logo

It was a long journey before online gambling in the USA became legal and regulated. In 1996, InterCasino was the first casino site that started taking wagers online. A few others began at that time, such as the Australian Centrebet.com.

As people began using the Internet to place wagers instead of going to land-based casinos, the online betting industry became increasingly popular. By 1998 it had exceeded $830 million and counted over 700 online casinos.

Online Casino Regulation

With the number of casino sites, the number of software developers grew, and the need for regulation. In 1994, Antigua and Barbuda made the first step towards regulating online casinos. Then in the 2000s, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom followed suit. The first state in the US to regulate online betting was New Jersey, with players only able to wager with state-based companies.

The Slow and Rocky Road to Legal US Gambling Online

Although New Jersey made the first move, other states weren’t as lucky. In 2011, the US authorities busted a major offshore online wagering provider network. Later that year, the Department of Justice made a surprising announcement stating that it reinterpreted the Wire Act, implying it would officially regulate online gambling.

Several states jumped on board and pushed for the legislation. First, it was Delaware in 2012 and then Nevada in 2013. However, things did not go as smoothly as expected. iGaming bills went back and forth across the US, with lawmakers uncertain whether to open up the online betting industry in their states.

US States With Regulated Online Betting

In 2017, states formed interstate compacts, and online gaming for money saw its way in the US. The following is a list of the current states with legal online casino gaming:

A Closer Look at US States With Legal Internet Gambling

Check out the following list to learn more about when online gambling was regulated in US states.

New Jersey

In 2013, New Jersey allowed in-state online betting. It’s currently the largest market for regulated online gambling in the US. Online casinos, poker, and sports betting are allowed in this state.


In 2010, Nevada launched online sports betting. Then in 2013, online poker went live. 


Delaware launched online casino and poker in 2013, and sports betting in 2018.


In 2017, Pennsylvania regulated online gaming for money. Then in 2019, the state launched its first online casino and poker sites.

West Virginia

In March 2019, West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize online betting across the state. After Governor Jim Justice failed to act on the House Bill 2934, the bill became law after the 15-day timeframe had passed.


Michigan is the latest state to regulate online wagering in late 2019, with first bookmakers going live in March 2020. Other online platforms are expected to do so in 2021.

The Future of Online Casinos

Online gambling is evolving and expanding quickly, so it’s no surprise to see many other US states on the road to regulation. Sure, many of them have still not shown interest in doing so, but considering internet betting is one of the fastest-growing and largest industries globally, chances are they will change direction.

Online casinos have gone through a long path to get where it is today. US players can also play at legit offshore casinos that provide significant advantages over the regulated market, like fewer restrictions and higher bonuses. Additionally, with mobile casino betting and diverse banking methods, there’s no doubt that real money virtual casinos will continue to expand.

About the Author
Shelly Schiff

Shelly Schiff - Collaborator

Especially enjoys writing about casino and bingo, but she also has experience creating content about crypto and partnerships.