The online gambling industry in the UK has seen extraordinary growth in the last three decades. The most recent figures published by industry regulator, the UK Gambling Commission, show that £3.2 billion in gross gaming yield is generated each year by the remote casino sector. This includes wagering from online video slots and RNG (random number generator) roulette, as well as the new trend for live dealer tables video streamed to a gambler’s desktop of mobile. The popularity of games like these has been driven by new technologies, and with so much money involved it is no surprise that the online gambling industry is at the forefront of innovations in computing, telecommunications and design.
Here we look at three of the most important technological advances that have supported this booming sector of the economy.
1. The Internet
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the internet itself, and it wasn’t long after the internet entered the mainstream that the first online gambling companies arrived on the scene to take advantage of the opportunity to allow punters to place bets and play games online. The first online casino was created by Microgaming in the mid 1990s. Microgaming have been incredibly successful and continue to push out hundreds of video slots and RNG table games every year. They don’t run their own casinos any more but they do provide software to 1000s of operators who do.
The first online casinos were in download only form which meant that players had to download a hefty file to their desktop and install the new casino on their hard drive to play. A connection was made to a remote computer to facilitate registration and payments to and from an account but most of the processing that allowed the casino to work was done on the punter’s home computer. Of course, there were no mobile casinos back in the 1990s.
2. Mobile Technology and HTML5
In 2020 mobile gambling accounts for more than 70% of remote casino wagering, but whilst mobile casinos were imagined and planned for long before, it was until the late 2000s that they became a reality. Before gambling on a hand-held device could happen technology had to catch up with much faster connections through broadband and 3G as well as better mobile phones that could process games at the required speed and display the game graphics and animations properly.
One of the most important developments for this to happen was HTML 5. Before HTML 5 came along most games were created and published using Adobe Flash software which was powerful but didn’t work in the responsive way needed for games to adapt to different screen sizes. HTML 5 changed all that when it was released in 2008. It is now the most commonly used language to develop video slot games found at new slot sites and casinos.
3. Video Steaming
The third technological advance we highlight in this article is video streaming. It might not seem like the most obvious, but anyone who regularly visit online casinos will know that the biggest change in the last 10 years has been the growth of live dealer tables. Previously if you wanted to play card and dice games like Blackjack, Roulette and Craps you would have a choice of a range of (RNG) Random Number Generator flash or HTML5 products. These are fine but they don’t offer the same experience as a real Vegas casino.
This all changed in the early 2010s when video streaming, mobile technology and super-fast broadband connections came together and made it possible to stream real time video of real croupiers dealing real cards from a real deck, or spinning a real roulette wheel. Live dealer is starting to surpass the old RNG games as not only is the experience more realistic but it takes away any doubts a punter might have about the integrity of the game play. RNG games might be audited in licensed jurisdictions but there can still be the nagging doubts that they might be rigged. With live dealer tables where you can see the cards being dealt and decks of cards being taken from newly-opened packets this doubt is removed.
Indeed, some of the most exciting new online casino products are now in the live table vertical where developers like Evolution Gaming are creating bespoke formats like Lighting Dice and Immersive Roulette which combine the classic game styles of real casinos with the creativity and techological innovations typical of the online experience. In this way, live dealer is perhaps the best example of how new technologies are driving the online gambling industry forward.