The History of Online Casino in the UK
The best online casino UK gamblers choose to play at often depends on a number of critical factors and criteria. These usually include a mix of personal preferences, gaming options, sizeable bonus offers, fast payouts and a few other considerations. Perhaps the really remarkable thing here is that UK gamblers now have so many options in one of the fastest growing and strongest online gambling industries in the world today.
Conquer Casino is the very epitome of a modern, cutting edge online casino, with strong roots that form part of the history of online casino gambling in the UK. But where did it all begin for the UK online casino gaming industry? We’ve decided that it’s about time that we take a closer look at how the UK online casino industry has evolved over the years into what it is today. As with any online industry, there have been plenty of ups and downs, with mostly ups when compared to how online casino gaming developed in other territories around the world.
Online casino gaming is still a fairly young industry, especially when compared to real world gambling, which has been in existence for millennia. Nevertheless, for a fledgling industry, online gambling has gone through incredible changes at lightning speed, making it one of the most dynamic industries in the world, not just within UK commerce.
UK Casino Gaming Goes Online
People in the UK have always had a love for gambling, whether at the racetrack, bingo hall or brick and mortar casino. We love having a few spins on classic pub fruities, or putting a few quid on our favourite football team to win the match. However, when the internet really started to take off in the early nineties, no one could see how this event would forever change the gambling landscape in the United Kingdom.
The very first online casino, Gaming Club, launched in 1994 and was powered by a then fledgling online casinos software provider called Microgaming. Anyone who has ever played an online slot or table game knows the name, since this was essentially the world’s first online casino software company, supplying the first virtual versions of classic casino games like roulette and blackjack, as well as the first virtual slot machines. Shortly after this ground breaking series of events, more online casino software brands began appearing, with Cryptologic appearing in 1995, hot on the heels of Microgaming. Other pioneering software brands included Playtech and NetEnt (formerly Net Entertainment).
The first online casino that catered to the needs of gambler in the UK was InterCasino, which launched in 1996, sporting software provided by Wagerlogic, a subsidiary gaming brand of Cryptologic. The launch of InterCasino was met with great excitement in the UK, as experienced gamblers were eager to try out this new concept called internet gambling.
It’s quite remarkable to think how far we’ve come in just over two decades. Back in 1995 InterCasino offers a mere 18 casino games. Today, Conquer Casino is able to offer hundreds of the best online slots, table games, progressive jackpot games, live casino games and mobile casino games. Our range of casino games are as diverse as our players, thanks to multiple software partnerships with the very best software brands including Microgaming, NetEnt, Thunderkick, Quickspin, Leander Gaming, and many others.
A Brief Look at UK Gambling Laws
The UK enjoys a long and colourful history with gambling, some of it legal, and some not so legal. The very first known gambling house, Whites, was established in 1693, after making the remarkable transition from hot chocolate emporium, to gentlemen’s club and, subsequently, gambling house. Whites was rather notorious as a gambling house for the aristocracy, where no laws applied and a gentleman’s word was his bond. A particularly infamous wager involved Lord Alvanley bet a friend £3,000 (a considerable sum of money on those days) as to which of two raindrops would first reach the bottom of a window pane. No one knows who actually won that wager.
UK gambling is filled with interesting stories, legends and crucial events. We’ve jotted down some of the most interesting and significant timeline events leading up to today’s modern UK gambling laws that govern the UK online casino industry.
Crockfords Casino established in London. One of the UK’s most famous and longest-running casinos and is still open for business today.
Gaming Act of 1853 introduced. The first official attempt at regulating the gambling industry. Among the more important points in the act, was the removal of the state from deciding on debit cases. In addition, all gambling contracts were made unenforceable under law.
Betting and Gambling Act. Replaced both the Gambling Act of 1853 as well as the subsequent Gambling Act of 1874. Allowed for legal gambling for small amounts in games of skill. As of May 1961 betting shops became legal and over 16,000 licenses were issued all over the country up until 1965.
Gambling Act of 1968 passed. This particular edition of the gambling act gave licenses to commercial casinos to begin operating in key areas throughout the UK.
UK Gambling Act is signed. The new gambling act was initially intended to kick start what was to be the UK’s largest land-based casino, slated to be built in Manchester. However, plans were eventually shelved in favour of several smaller and more manageable casino sites.
Establishment of the UKGC. Possibly the most significant legal development for the UK online casino industry and for UK online casino gamblers. The UK Gambling Commission is established to oversee the majority of UK gambling, including land-based casino gaming, sports betting, and online casino gambling. The UKGC establishes its official white list of approved offshore online casinos which are then permitted to advertise and operate within the UK online casino market.
Bumps in the Road to Riches – Controversies and Scandals in UK Gaming
As with any industry, there are bound to be times of scandal and controversy. While some of these can be quite serious, either from a moral or legal point of view, some are just plain cheeky or outrageous. Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy controversies and scandals.
Money Laundering and Terrorism
In one of the more recent controversies that face the UK online casino industry, up to five top UK online casino and gaming operators could possibly lose their license to operate within the UK, according to a spokesperson at the UK Gambling Commission. The five operators are under investigations pertaining to anti-money laundering measures as well as player prevention failings. While five of the top UK facing online casinos has been singled out, the UKGC investigation does not end there. The commission is looking into at least seventeen other UK online casinos, based on anti-money laundering and potential terrorist financing issues. While no particular UK facing online casino have been named, just yet, UK gamblers will be glad to know that Conquer Casino runs a tight ship, meeting all of the money laundering, player prevention and anti-terrorism requirements as set out by the UK Gambling Commission. But then again, we’re sure that this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Loot Box Controversy
If you’ve ever played a ‘free’ game that you downloaded from your app store, or played via social media platforms or other outlet, you may already be quite familiar with loot boxes. These are essentially consumable virtual items or ‘grab bags’ found within a game that you can purchase. They yield anything from additional weapons (in certain games), to new items for your avatar or character and so forth. For many gamers, the issue with loot boxes is that they are being forced by game designers to ‘gamble’, either with real money or in-game currency.
The idea is for gamers to purchase loot boxes throughout the game, in the hopes that the box or package contains an item that will help them get further in the game. Many gamers are now calling for the UK Gambling Commission to investigate loot box practices as legitimate gambling platforms, instead of non-gambling gaming as it’s supposed to be. The loot box controversy is interesting as it opens up questions relating to UK online casino gambling, could loot boxes begin to appear in online casino games too? We have our doubts as Conquer Casino currently offer most games in true free to play modes or separate real money modes. If you’re playing with real money, everything you need is already in the game, although we do offer a range of promotions and bonuses that go a long way in boosting your game time.
FOBTs or Fixed Odds Betting Terminals have pretty much divided the UK public into two groups, those that are for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, and those that are against them. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals look a lot like slot machines, and you can find them in just about any high street betting shop. Games include slots, blackjack, and roulette, normally only found in land-based or online casinos.
The UK government is looking to clamp down on FOBTs which currently are capable of accepting a maximum stake of up to £100 every 20 seconds. Government regulators are looking to slash this by as much as £50, with some suggesting the figure be closer to £20, or even £2. It still makes more sense to simply open an online casino account, where you are able to select from a wider range of casino games than FOBT terminals allow for. Even better, Conquer Casino mobile casino means that you can enjoy superior gaming to FOBT terminals on the go.
The Evolution of Online Casino Gaming
The state of online casino gaming, particularly within the UK, has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Within two decades, we’ve gone from a handful of very basic virtual casino games, to cutting edge, 3D virtual games, mobile smartphone games, and live casino games, quite remarkable by any industry’s standards.
The first handful of online casino games was produced by Microgaming, after developing their own unique virtual (online) casino games by themselves and launching their own casino to promote the games in. However, after some time Microgaming decided to ditch the idea of owning an online casino and instead, concentrated their efforts in supplying other online casinos with their unique, high quality casino games.
Rather than specialise in any one type of gaming genre such as slots, Microgaming chose to produce a wide range of casino games right from the start. This included the first virtual 3 and 5 reel video slots as well as the first table roulette and blackjack games. Microgaming also gave the fledgling online casino industry its very first progressive jackpot slot, called Cash Splash in 1998. For Microgaming, this was just the start as they have gone on to produce some of the biggest and most famous online progressive jackpot slots in history.
After a fairly short space of time, other online casino software developers began to appear, helping to grow the still new online casino industry. Today’s top software suppliers got their start back in the late nineties, supplying an ever-growing list of new online casinos with an equally expanding range of digital casino games. Soon new online casino gamblers could choose from a range of classic 3 reel slots, based on the original Vegas-style one arm bandits, 5 reel video slots, with expanded game symbols and bonus rounds, and progressive jackpot slots.
Classic casino table games were also on the menu, helping to give new online casinos the same weight and credibility as their brick and mortar Vegas counterparts that many of them were actually based on. Initially casino table gamers could choose from a basic European roulette or American roulette, as well as a standard Vegas rules blackjack game. However, this was not for long as competing software developers began to produce all sorts of interesting features and variations in an effort to outdo each other.
Today casino table gamers can choose from an ever-expanding range of virtual table games, each with their own unique set of features and characteristics. Choose from traditional roulette, games, or modern mini roulette, or even live roulette, where players can experience a real live croupier spinning the roulette wheel in real time on their computers. The expansion and innovation doesn’t stop at roulette, other popular table games including blackjack, craps, poker, and baccarat all have had multiple versions and variations released over the past two decades, with plenty more to come in the future.
A Brief List of Online Casino Firsts
Microgaming launched the very first online casino in 1994
The first progressive jackpot slot, Cash Splash, was released by Microgaming in 1998
The first official online sportsbook was launched by Intertops in 1996. Intertops also launched the first mobile sports betting site in 2000
Playtech launch the online casino industry’s first ever live dealer casino in 2003
Key Influential Online Casino Software Developers
Without the vision of smart and innovative software developers, we simply would not have an online casino industry to speak of. In fact, the very first online casino was actually designed and operated by the very first online casino software brand, Microgaming. Microgaming had to write their programs and protocols from scratch as there was no template which they could simply follow; they truly are the pioneers of the online casino industry.
Microgaming launched their casino, Gaming Club, in 1994 but soon saw the potential in designing and developing a range of high end online casino games for a newly expanding industry. They subsequently dropped their casino idea and began to supply online casinos with a range of slots, table games and other casino attractions. They also introduced the world to the first online progressive jackpot slot called Cash Splash. The progressive jackpot slot was an innovation which allowed players to contribute a percentage of their wager to a growing jackpot, hence the term ‘progressive jackpot’. This proved to be enormously popular and soon Microgaming were expanding their line of progressive jackpot games, each with more features and bigger minimum progressive jackpot totals.
Microgaming Progressive Jackpots Biggest Payouts
Out of all the online casino software providers that offer progressive jackpot slots, none is more successful than Microgaming. Starting the ball rolling right at the beginning with Cash Splash, a successful progressive jackpot slot in its own right. However, no one can ever forget about the biggest single Microgaming progressive jackpot payout, £ 13,230,200, won by a UK soldier named Jon Heywood in 2015 on Mega Moolah, Microgaming’s most popular progressive jackpot slot of all time. Here is a short list of some of Microgaming’s other successful, high payout progressive jackpot slots:
Of course Microgaming is not the only online casino software provider that make excellent progressive jackpot slots. Here are a few more we love at Conquer Casino:
Monty Pythons Spamalot
Age of the Gods
Hall of Gods
Mega Fortune Dreams
Microgaming essentially started it all, but there were other early innovators who got involved at the ground level of the online casino industry and many UK gamblers got to know them quite quickly too. We’re talking about what are now considered to be household names, including Playtech, Net Entertainment (now known as NetEnt), and Cryptologic.
Cryptologic started out as a developer of encrypted communications protocols and related security platforms. However, they entered the online casino software industry in 1995, initially in a bid to find a viable platform to test certain security platforms and parameters. Cryptologic created a separate arm for their online casino gaming software called Wagerlogic. Although you will still find the name in online casinos, the firm was incorporated by Amaya Gaming in 2012.
Playtech started in 1999, bringing together experts in several fields including multimedia and software engineering. Playtech launched their first online casino games in 2001 and quickly grew to become one of the major online casino software suppliers in the industry. Playtech offer a diverse library of cutting edge games which includes a variety of 3 reel and 5 reels slots, virtual casino table games, online poker rooms, online bingo rooms, mobile casino gaming and much more. Playtech were the first online casino software brand to launch live dealer casino games in 2003.
NetEnt, formerly known as Net Entertainment, is slightly older than Playtech, having launched in 1996, a short while after Microgaming. NetEnt is a Scandinavian online casino software company with headquarters located in Stockholm, Sweden. Like Microgaming and Playtech, NetEnt provide a wide range of high quality online casino games covering all popular genres including table games, slots, bingo and more. However, if there are two areas where NetEnt really stand out, it’s in their themed 3D animated slots as well as their unique mobile casino gaming platform known as NetEnt Touch.
Crossover Gambling Opportunities
Betting and gambling in the UK have always been prefect dance partners, with many punters dabbling in a bit of casino gaming whilst enjoying their regular horse racing or greyhound race betting. After Microgaming launched the first viable online casino in 1994, it opened the door for many other interesting and convenient gambling opportunities.
Traditionally casinos and betting shops are separate and independent entities, with very little in common other than the opportunity to put some money down in order to make a profit. However, within the virtual world anything is possible and many of the more traditional UK sports betting brands began incorporating online casino gaming into their more traditional sports betting sites, offering those that like a bit of both worlds a convenient online gambling opportunity.
Gaming on the Go – Mobile Casino Gaming in the UK
The history of mobile casino gaming in the UK is actually surprisingly long, stretching back to the first WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones that began to appear on the market in the early 2000’s. For the first time ever, mobile phone users including Nokia, Motorola, and Ericsson could download games to their devices. WAP-enabled games were relatively simple affairs and could not be played for real money, however, it was at least a start.
Around 2001 a new platform became available for mobile phone users, called Java, or more precisely, Java Platform Micro Edition, Java ME for mobile phones. Java was a huge improvement over WAP as it allowed for faster and smoother games. As far as we know, the very first Java-based casino game was a classic 3 reel slot game simply called Pub Fruity, which became available around 2005. There were of course a few other games too, as more and more software developers began to see the potential in mobile gaming that came about with Java applications. However, gamblers still could not play for real money, and instead had to take advantage of various in-game purchases in order to advance in the game. Among the most popular mobile games of the day was a mobile poker game called Downtown Texas Hold’em, which rewarded players with chips which they could use to move forward and play against more advanced opponents. There were additional issues with Java, as more and more handset models began to become available on the market, not all used the same Java script, creating problems with game compatibility and so forth.
The first so-called smart phones began to appear around 2007, with the launch of Apple’s brand new smartphone called the iPhone. Smart phones were to revolutionise not only how people could communicate, but how they would eventually choose to gamble within a virtual world. Smartphones were essentially ultra-compact computers, with similar features to desktops, as well as similar computing power and functionality. Apple iPhone users could now download applications or ‘apps’ directly from the Apple store online which included the newest mobile casino games, with Texas Hold’em being the most popular new mobile casino app of the day. About a year after the launch of Apple’s iPhone, Google introduced their own smartphone version called Android, and the race to produce the best and most advanced smartphone was truly underway.
While Apple may have been the first to launch a smartphone, it was Google’s Android that really revolutionised the mobile casino gaming industry for one very basic reason – accessibility. The inherent problem with iPhone is that it was built on a closed ecosystem, meaning you needed an iPhone device in order to access AppStore games. However, Android was an open platform, available to a diverse range of makes and models. Android devices could be purchased in a wide price range, from very basic all the way through to flagship high end models.
As a result of the accessibility aspect that Android made possible, far more mobile casino apps and games became available for download from the Play Store, Googles version of Apples AppStore. UK gamblers could now access individual casino games such as multi hand blackjack or European roulette, slot machines, and video poker games. They could also download apps directly from online casinos to expand the range of mobile gaming options available to them. Real money casino games were now possible to play on a range of devices including iPhone and, from 2010 onwards, on iPad tablets too. Various device manufactures using the Android platform including Sony, Samsung, Nokia and others, made smartphones and tablet devices available which casino gamblers could use to enjoy various slots and other casino games on.
The HTML5 Revolution
The Rise of Live Casino Gaming
Playtech introduced the first live casino games in 2003, which proved to be immediately successful. For the first time ever, online casino gamblers in the UK and other parts of the world, could enjoy the best of both worlds – the convenience of online casino gambling, with the excitement of real brick and mortar casino gaming. Live dealer casino gaming is like no other online casino gaming experience on the net. Thanks to breakthroughs in live streaming and internet bandwidth capabilities, live casino games can now be streamed live and in real time, directly to your computer or even your mobile device. Sophisticated studios are made to look exactly like a brick and mortar casino lobby, complete with elegant dealers and croupiers, real tables, real chips, real cards and other accoutrements.
Playtech are still one of the undisputed leaders in live dealer casino gaming, with two of the most sophisticated, state of the art live casino studios under their banner. Playtech studios stream live casino games from Europe and the Philippines to hundreds of online casinos 24 hours a day, providing a great mix of European and Asian casino games including roulette, blackjack, craps, poker, sic bo, and others.
Many other online casino software developers such as Evolution Gaming and Ezugi took their cue from Playtech, pushing the live casino gaming boat out even further. Today, live dealer casino games are prolific and most online casinos, including Conquer Casino, offer an eclectic range of live dealer games, with live versions of American, European and French roulette, several varieties of live dealer blackjack, live baccarat, various live table pokers including Casino Hold’em and more.
Online Deposit Methods– Making Real Money Gaming Easy
Of course, for all UK gamblers that want to enjoy real money online casino gambling, being able to transfer funds safely and quickly is vital. UK online casinos are among the best in the world when it comes to providing safe and reliable deposit methods for their players. The earliest deposit options included popular Visa and MasterCard credit card and debit card options, although this soon expanded as growing internet commerce technology made new methods popular.
The Visa brand is recognised all over the world as a trusted way to transact securely between merchant and customer. Visa has a long history that stretches all the way back to the 1950’s and has been used to make secure online casino deposits since the mid-nineties. While not everyone can qualify for a credit card, Visa do have their own debit cards available which are ideal for online casino depositing.
Similar to Visa, MasterCard offers a secure way to deposit into an online casino account. MasterCard is also available in both credit and debit card options.
PayPal is one of the most popular online payment options in the world and particularly here in the UK. PayPal has been around since 2002 and is accepted by millions of websites including Amazon, eBay, and most online casinos.
Neteller is another popular online eWallet which originally launched in 1999. Neteller is one of the most widely accepted deposit methods for making fast and secure online casino deposits. The brand is owned and operated by the publicly traded British global payments company Paysafe Group, also responsible for PaySafeCard and other secure online payment options.
Pay by Mobile Phone
With so many UK gamblers now opting to rather play on their preferred mobile device, mobile pay by phone bill service providers such as Boku are now offering this option across multiple networks in the UK including Orange, Vodaphone, and O2.
Of all the online payment options, none is more interesting, innovative, or revolutionary as Bitcoin is. Bitcoin is a crypto currency, which essentially means that it only exists within an online environment. Bitcoin was first introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 and, while it was slow to catch on with online casinos, is fast becoming the number one online casino deposit option due to its decentralized anonymity, and providing superior security for making online casino deposits.
Brave New World – The Future of Online Casino Gaming in the UK
In just over two decades, we have seen some incredible innovations and revolutions within the online casino industry. Just when you think nothing new could possible occur to change the direction of the industry again; something new does indeed do so. So, with that in mind, what does the future hold for the UK and international online casino gaming industry?
Many online casino gaming experts have long been predicting that mobile casino gaming will take over from the more traditional desktop-based online casino gaming, moving in to 2018 and beyond. This does make sense since mobile technology has virtually transformed the lives of billions of people all over the globe. We do everything on our mobile devices now, from communicating, socialising, and gaming.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments which many believe will change the online casino industry once again is virtual reality. Virtual reality is by no means a new concept and it has actually been around since the mid-eighties. However, it is only because of more recent technological breakthroughs in smart device technology, that a more viable virtual reality platform is becoming available for the mass market. The virtual reality applications for online casino gaming are very exciting and could take the live casino gaming concept through the stratosphere. Imagine being able to play a real live casino game through your virtual reality device and feel like you are literally in the casino room?
Virtual reality applications go beyond just the enhancement of the live casino game and some forward thinking virtual reality designers are already planning a virtual and fully immersive virtual reality casino experience. This would enable users to strap on a virtual reality headset and be able to explore an entire casino floor in true 3D immersion. Players would be able to travel through the casino lobby in real time, stopping off at whichever casino game took their fancy. This would give everything a new dimension, from playing the latest video slots, to more traditional casino games such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat or poker. Best of all, this new platform could combine the best of mobile casino gaming technology with live dealer gaming technology in an entirely new platform, virtual casino gaming wherever you happen to be.
Virtual reality is just one future possibility for the online casino industry but it is a significant one. The advent of crypto currency since 2009 has also given rise to speculation that the future of online casino gaming will be purely crypto-based. As more and more online casinos in the UK begin to accept crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, it seems likely that this is likely.
Conquer Casino is known for always having an ear to the ground, bringing you the biggest and best innovations in online casino gambling first. Our mobile casino provides the very best in HTML5-driven mobile gaming and our live casino features the latest innovations in live dealer casino gaming innovations. We will certainly never stop looking forward into the exciting future of online casino gambling, ready to introduce you to the latest innovations that our modern technology is able to offer.