Gambling is the wagering of money on an event that has an uncertain outcome, with the aim of winning money. Gambling has been around since the Paleolithic period. The earliest six-sided dice in Mesopotamia dates back to around 3000 BC. In China, gambling houses were betting on animal fights in the first millennium BC. The current-day playing cards appeared in the ninth century and Lotto games made their presence in the 10th century, also in China. Poker, which is inarguably the most popular game in the world as of now, has its origin in the 17th century. However, many suggest that gambling was confined to a few select pockets, with Australia, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and many parts of South Africa being introduced to gambling only as recently as 150 years ago. Nevertheless, gambling has metamorphosed into a huge money spinner today, with the global gambling market totaling more than $500 billion.
The internet is an integral part of society in contemporary times. It has transformed every facet of our lives, from education and entertainment to work and even gambling. Since the inception of the internet in the 1990s, there has been a steady transition from land-based casinos to online gambling. An increasing number of people are shedding epic gambling destinations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City in favor of online gambling. The annual revenues of online gambling, including poker, casinos and sports betting, have soared from annualized $200 million in 1997 to more than a billion today.
The birth of online casinos can be traced to a mix of events. The internet is a given. And if there is one single factor other than the internet, it is the passage and proclamation of the Free Trade & Processing Act in the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 1994, which empowered its government to grant licenses to online casino companies. Coincidentally, a software company named Microgaming was established at the same time. Microgaming created the world’s first fully functional online casino called The Gaming Club, which is still among the very best in the casino business. And to make things better, CryptoLogic was born in 1995. CryptoLogic, which specializes in real money transactions over the internet, has revolutionized the process of online money transactions and thereby driven online gambling. More online casinos emerged in no time in response to the rising demand and the increasing competition among the operators themselves. The world’s leading bookmakers such as William Hill and Ladbrokes have their own online gambling websites today.
Bookmakers and casinos are targeting online gamblers worldwide. They are spending astronomical sums of money to entice and retain customers, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the most expensive keywords pertain to gambling. The online casinos also offer lower minimums; for example, they allow a person to play Blackjack with players across the world for as little as $0.10, whereas their land-based counterparts charge a minimum of $10.
Online gambling can be confusing as many gambling sites offer freebies galore. The mandatory requirement for credit card transactions can also be a little unsettling. On a reassuring note, online casinos operate just like regular casinos. The players have to necessarily deposit the stake money either from their credit cards or other e-wallets, the casino generates numbers randomly to determine the outcome of the games and there is an age bar of 18 years.
The players should first ascertain whether online gambling is legal in their area or country of residence as gambling is still considered as illegal in many countries and even regions within countries (such as some states in USA). The age, ownership, licensing details, rules, banking policies of the casino should also be thoroughly investigated by the players concerned. After zeroing in on a casino, the players should opt for the play-for-free option in order to get a feel for the casino games before diving deep into the ring. Most online casinos gift huge bonuses to new players as a part of their marketing strategy. It is the responsibility of the new entrants to study the underlying terms and conditions as these are subject to playing conditions.
The million-dollar question is whether online gambling is safe. Caution is paramount, especially while gambling on offshore websites as they usually have fewer regulations and safeguards in place. There have been instances when the money won on offshore sites was stolen by the sites themselves. One should look out for tell-tale signs that a website may not be trustworthy. Some sites may not guarantee the odds and others may offer payout rates that are too good to be true. It is pertinent to stick to websites that offer a secure internet connection viz. a locked padlock and an ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL, so that the financial transactions remain secure. It also makes immense sense to use a low-limit credit card or debit card to further reduce the risk. Gambling information websites such as RealMoneyGambling are a handy resource in distinguishing the genuine websites from the others.
Healthy gambling habits are a key element in gambling. A person should avoid gambling alone as it is easy to ‘get lost in the game’ and lose touch with the outside world. Gambling can be addictive and so a gambler should know when to put the break on his gambling activity. A cardinal principle of gambling is to never chase the losses and fall for the ‘gambler’s fallacy,’ which is the thought that one can get lucky and recoup the entire lost money by putting some additional money into the game. A player should also avoid the ‘gambler’s conceit,’ which is the thought that one should put more bets to capitalize on a winning streak.
To conclude, the technology of today makes gambling possible from almost any location, ranging from the bedroom to the bathroom and even outdoors. It is left to the individual player to make the best use of opportunities in a spirit of maturity and prudence.