Published on June 15, 2003, 6:00 pm EST


Ten years ago, the Internet was just a bunch of text, mainly messages from one computer savvy person to another. Now, we play online roulette at virtual casinos, with graphics so impressive that you would think you were actually standing at the roulette table at Las Vegas. How did online casinos come so far, so fast? How did a million dollar industry become a multi-billion dollar industry?

The first online casinos came online just about the time that Internet heavyweights such as AOL and Amazon.com started to become popular. The innovators of the online casinos thought: there must be a way to leverage Internet technology so that we can provide a low-cost solution that allows people to gamble from the comfort of their own homes.

Unfortunately for the casinos back then, there were a few major stumbling blocks, including: slow Internet connections, poor graphics, and a distrust of computers and the Internet in general, so that people would not use their credit cards to wager online. There was also a feeling back then that online casinos were run by the "mob." I can't speak on the situation back then, but nowadays, you would be surprised to see who runs the largest online casinos. Real businessmen and real companies. The days of dingy back offices and seedy people running the online casinos are long over .. this is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it has attracted the best and brightest.

Anyways, there were a few big breaks for online casinos throughout the years. First off, the introduction of high speed Internet connections meant that people could download highly detailed casino games in a short amount of time. Five years ago, a 10 megabyte download could have taken several hours, if not longer .. now it just takes a few seconds. The larger software packages allow for better graphics.

Secondly, with the wide-spread acceptable of online stores such as Amazon.com, people began to feel safer playing online. Sure, there is always a chance of your credit card getting stolen online, but there is probably a greater chance of it getting stolen in real life; written down by the kid at the gas station or swiped from your wallet.

Over the past few years, the market for online casinos has gotten competitive, to the benefit of the customer. Online casinos now offer lucrative bonuses in exchange for signing up; and they seem to be increasing every day.

What is the future for online casinos? Lawmakers in Washington are still trying to pass legislation that would make using credit cards at online casinos illegal; it is hard to say whether or not it will pass, but it seems that support for the bill is weakening, compared to say 5 years ago when the anti-gambling bill nearly passed.

Graphics will continue to improve, and I think we will continue to see a move towards multi-player gaming. Expect to see even more competition, and expect the bonuses to continue to grow, to your benefit. The future looks bright for online roulette, and online casinos.