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Gaming industry embraces Internet to become global phenomenon

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Few will dispute that technology is transforming the way the world does business. As proof, one only needs to look at the ever-growing list of companies going online to reach customers and expand markets.

One industry fully embracing the Internet as a business model is casinos and gaming, which, in the span of just over a decade, developed into a multibillion-dollar online industry.

In what has become a global sensation, people of all ages and demographic groups are flocking to what is known as iGaming, to engage in a range of exciting online casino games. For example, the number of women in Europe aged between 16 and 74 using the Internet increased by more than 80 percent since 2004; for men in the same age group, Internet use has increased 60 percent.

Forbes magazine business columnist Christopher Versace calls the growth of online gaming as nothing short of phenomenal.

“How big can online gaming be?” Versace wrote in 2014. “In New Jersey, online gaming began Nov. 26 and generated $8.3 million by year’s end.”

The rise of online casinos began in earnest in the mid-1990s, according to Wikipedia, when the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processing Act of 1994. The law granted licenses to organizations offering slots, poker and other online casino games.

At about the same time, Isle of Man-based Microgaming Software Systems Ltd. became the first company to develop fully functional gaming software, which allowed online casinos to offer more than 600 games, including slots, blackjack, video poker and roulette.

Since then, Europe has declared online gaming as a right of every legal adult, while in the United States — after a series of fits and starts — online casinos are just beginning to catch on at a lightning pace. Statistics portal Statista estimates online gaming in 2015 reached $41.4 billion (U.S.), a threefold growth since 2005.

Also, several states have legalized (or are beginning to consider allowing) intrastate online gambling. As of 2013, it is legal in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, and movements toward legalization began in several others, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania.

And with the advent of mobile technology, smartphones, and tablets, this movement will only continue to grow, as more people than ever can now enjoy sophisticated games with the world’s most entertaining and reliable online casinos.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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