It’s incredible just how far online betting has come in just over 20 years. When Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act in 1994, they began a movement that has not even shown the slightest hint of slowing down.
After all, in that time there’s been no shortage of extraordinary milestones. Perhaps the first significant sign that online betting would surpass offline betting was in 2003. A study by ORC International showed online gambling activities had grown 46%, with offline gambling dropping 25%.
Betting operators in the UK were especially quick to adapt. As far back as 1998, William Hill was the first bookmaker in the UK to allow online betting. Sporting Index was the UK’s first mobile betting application in 2003. Betfair was the first to allow the ‘cash-out’ functionality four years ago, meaning punters were allowed to cash out their in-play bets.
There’s been plenty on the more maverick side of things too. William Hill was sued, unsuccessfully, for £2 million by an unhappy punter. Bet 365 has used London’s rough diamond, and major Hollywood star, Ray Winstone as a floating head. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has had countless publicity stunts, including a distinctive mention in a World Cup. Odds were even offered at 500 – 1 that by 2010 real world bookmakers would be obsolete.
Perhaps most memorably, in 2012 punters bet $2.4 million on the birth of Prince George, down to everything from name and gender to weight and hair colour.
Even attempts to slow online betting haven’t stopped the growth. In 2006 the US passed the UIGEA making it illegal for banks and credit companies to process financial transactions for betting sites. Though that meant most companies withdrew, in 2009 it was revealed that $50 billion was spent by Americans on online gambling.
And the future will only get even more spectacular. In 1998 the online betting market was worth $830 million dollars. In 2012 it was calculated at $74 billion. Today it is said to be worth up to $100 billion and set to go up even further.
It’s been one heck of a ride.
Infographic provided by RightCasino.com.