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A date with history and the progression of casino games

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A look at how iGaming has changed from the 90s to the modern day through the history of most common casino games.


Online casino games are a form of entertainment that allows you to escape reality for a couple of minutes or hours. In the past few years, the iGaming industry has grown from strength to strength with improved game developments.

We look over the history of casino games and how they have changed from the 90s to now with a comparison of the most common casino games.

Where it all began

It was in the 90s when things started for the online casinos and casino games industry. In 1994, online casinos first started acquiring online casino licenses to operate legally in regions with regulations in place. Back then the industry wasn’t as well put together as it is today. Game providers didn’t have the technology we have now.

Around the same time, Bally Technologies introduced the Bally Game Maker. The first machine with multiple games on the same unit, all of which were video games that can be launched by touching the icon on the screen. At the time video poker and video blackjack were the most popular. Simultaneously, it was the launch of Microgaming that started building its reputation. Today Microgaming is one of the leading names in the iGaming industry.

In 1995, Microgaming launched The Gaming known as the first online casino. It came complete with video poker, craps, roulette, and blackjack. The Australian company, Aristocrat Technologies, started with five reels slots and bonus rounds. At first, these were not heavily popular, they only gained popularity later.

1996 was a big year with plenty of game changes including the release of the Reel’Em slot by WMS. This was the first online slot with a second screen bonus round which today is common in online slots. It was also the year NetEnt entered the market which today is another industry leader known across the globe.

1997 was the year IGT (International Gaming Technologies) brought out the Wheel of Fortune slot which comes with a wheel of a fortune bonus wheel and sounds from the popular tv series. It’s an iconic slot that to this day continues to spark the interest in players across the globe. By the end of this year, there were already 200 online casinos to choose from.

1998 was the year of progressives as Microgaming released Cash Splash, the very first progressive jackpot game. This game is still at large and played by many at top Microgaming online casinos.

Apart from the progressive slot, Microgaming had 5 other successful slot releases throughout the year including Golden Dragon and Pharaoh’s Fortune.

1999 was another big year for Microgaming with 24 new game releases including Jurassic Jackpot and Joker Poker. Lasseter became the first Australian online casino with legal licensing. It’s also the year new software became available enabling multiplayer functionality.

From then to now

The ’90s were the years of development with so many small building blocks allowing for the great transitions the industry can experience today. Throughout the first few years of the 2000s, there were still some kinks. Some might even say these are still being ironed out today. However, when it comes to online casinos and game developments there is only going from strength to strength.

Let’s take a look, for example, at the iconic Gonzo’s Quest slot NetEnt brought forth in 2010. This slot remains a classic and a player favourite to this day connected to various promotional offers. The number of online casinos to choose from was also at a solid 865 by this point.

2011 was another big year for NetEnt with the release of their first mobile games and their expansion into Italy. It was also the year a player struck an $11.7 million win on the Mega Fortune progressive slot which was the biggest progressive win to date for NetEnt.

2012 was the year of big wins for the mobile gaming industry with mobile options becoming available on all popular devices including iOS, Android, and Windows. And to make it even better, the top software providers had all started working on creating mobile-compatible online casino games.

In 2013, the mobile casino industry continued to grow and NetEnt expanded its range with the launch of live casino games. 2014 is another significant change with the introduction of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency gambling and the release of the iconic Book of Dead slot from Play’n GO.

2016 was another noteworthy year as top industry software providers including Microgaming, NetEnt, and WMS switched their popular games to mobile-friendly platforms. By now the pay-outs on non-progressive slots have also increased to up to 10,000x.

2019 was exciting for online slots with many new and exciting slot releases. This includes the release of Rich Wilde and the Tome of Madness from Play’n GO, a sequel to the popular Book of Dead. Yggdrasil Gaming also had the industry on its feet with spectacular game releases including Yokozuna Clash and Aldo’s Journey. As for NetEnt, there was the release of Finn’s Golden Tavern.

By 2020, the industry was already flourishing with over 5,000 casino games and stiff competition among first-class software providers. Gone are the days of regular Classic and Video Slots, now there are Megaways slots, high pay-out slots and so many more. As the industry grows, game developers are continuously looking for new ways to rise to the top of the ranks and maintain their position as a leader within the industry.

No longer is entertainment a simple 3 reels and 1 payline slot or basic Video poker or Blackjack game. Everything is improved, with the key focus on providing a more rewarding and immersive experience.

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