What Is Online Gambling?

What Is Online Gambling?

Many people may have a question, “What is online gambling?” and the answer is pretty easy. When most people hear the term “online gambling”, their mind immediately wanders to slots, blackjack, roulette, and perhaps even sports betting. These are all popular forms of online gambling, but they aren’t the only ones by any stretch of the imagination. You can also throw in e-sports betting, live betting, horse racing, bingo, poker, crypto, and lottery games. Some even consider loot boxes a form of gambling. Join us as we explore these common forms of gambling and explain them in greater detail here.

Online Gambling Definition

What is the meaning of online gambling in Internet terms? Fortunately, there is no great secret here, no mystery. Online gambling is exactly as it sounds.

Online gambling, by definition, includes anything you can effectively wager money on and isn’t limited to casino or sports bets.

Online gambling constitutes the act of actively risking your money to bet on an unpredictable or seemingly random outcome via an internet-based operator or website. For instance, in sports, this may be choosing a team to win a match. In slots, it may involve betting on certain symbols to appear in sequence across the reels. In roulette, gambling involves predicting which pocket the ball will land in, while in card games, you are wagering that you can form a winning hand from the cards dealt.

The key thing that differentiates online gambling is that the betting is done over the internet. You aren’t visiting a bookmaker or land-based gambling outlet to place your bets.

History of Online Gambling

Online gambling goes back a lot further than you might imagine. The world’s first online casinos (which one is open to debate) first appeared in 1994. For most of the 1990s, they remained niche places to bet. Online gambling exploded just after the millennium, as sportsbooks started to launch their own online betting services, and software providers sprang up to cater to the growing number of online casinos emerging.

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Back then, you’d likely download a piece of software and install it on your PC to play games. However, as technology improved, we gradually moved into “instant play” platforms. These were websites that permitted you to gamble online using your web browser alone. Downloadable casino software went into steep decline, as it has been doing so ever since.

Shortly after the turn of the decade, mobile phones had advanced to such a degree that downloadable casino games could be played.

Mirroring the journey of online casinos, these were soon canned in favor of downloadable casino apps before, eventually, most mobile casinos opted for the instant play or browser-based approach that we see today.

Ever evolving, the online gambling world has seen other innovations in recent years. Cryptocurrency gambling is on the rise, mobile betting is now mainstream, e-sports betting and live in-play betting are now standardized at major sites, and VR gambling and live casino options are making online gambling more realistic than ever before. We may even be stepping into the exciting world of Metaverse betting before too long.

Examples of Online Gambling Forms

As touched on, online gambling spans many different types of forms. To better help you understand all the options you have when you choose to wager, let’s look at some of the more common options below.

Casinos With Games

It is true that most casino games tend to be online slots. These come in all sorts of shapes and forms, from fruit machines and video slots to progressive jackpot slots, MegaWays, Cluster Pays, book slots, and more. However, slots aren’t the only games you can bet on at online casinos. You’ll also find no shortage of blackjack, baccarat, roulette, table poker, and other card and dice-based games. In fact, developments over the last decade have seen these games go from AI-run RNG (random number generator) titles to live dealer games, played with a human dealer controlling the action over a video stream.


Poker can regularly be played at online casinos, either as a live dealer or RNG table game. However, some sites (notably poker rooms) also offer their own take on the game. These are played with other humans in tournaments and Sit & Go-style competitions. Most revolve around Texas Hold’em poker, although Omaha is another popular option here.

Sports & Horse Racing Betting

Sports betting and horse racing gambling have been ever present since the early days of online gambling. Moreover, in online gambling examples for USA players (in particular), there are many countries where online casino gambling isn’t legal, and sports betting (at least to some degree) usually is. Sports betting is a broad, all-encompassing term spanning e-sports betting, fantasy, and real-life sports betting options. Even live sports are lumped into this overarching genre.

William Hill offers sports and casino options
Leading, top-tier brands often cover many different forms of gambling


Bingo is more popular in some countries than in others. The UK, for instance, has a massive online bingo sector. There are various types of bingo games you can play. 90-ball bingo tends to be most popular in the UK, while 75-ball and 80-ball games are hits elsewhere. Online bingo is played in dedicated rooms, with games automatically checking off your numbers as balls are drawn.

This makes playing with dozens of tickets a far easier experience than, say, dabbing them with markers in brick-and-mortar bingo clubs and halls.


Lotteries can also be played online. We’re not talking about one-off events here or in-house games. We’re talking about major, global lotteries, like the Euro Millions and Mega Millions. The perks of playing lotteries online are two-fold. Firstly, you can wager on your local lotteries without having to step foot outside the house — handy if you’re running late and the lotto draw is set to begin. Secondly, through lottery agents you can participate in global lotteries that wouldn’t ordinarily be available to players in your country.

Mobile Gambling

The very first mobile betting sites utilized mobile casino apps which had to be downloaded to devices if you wanted to gamble. That has changed radically over the last few years. Nowadays, most betting sites also run an instant play (browser-based) site where you can play without having to install apps that consume space or require frequent downloading. Today’s mobile-optimized industry is now so advanced that you can have seemingly the same experience playing via iOS, Android, or Windows devices alike.

It is worth noting that online gambling is not legal in every country. Moreover, in countries with federal systems, the laws can be different depending on where you reside. Online gambling information for USA users, for instance, can vary depending on your state of residence. While it is legal for New Jersey residents to bet at state-licensed casinos, players in Florida aren’t so lucky. They have to play at offshore casinos, which fall into a grey zone, at least legally.

Similarly, countries such as the United Kingdom, Malta, and Sweden have relatively open gambling industries. It is fully legal to wager on most forms of gambling games, assuming those sites are licensed by national bodies, such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority.

Other countries opt for state-licensed monopolies. It is legal to gamble in these countries, but only at sites that are run by a state monopoly. Elsewhere, it is not legal to gamble online at all. However, a country’s laws do not extend beyond its borders. Therefore, you’ll find many offshore gambling sites that cater to these players.

Most countries won’t punish you for playing at these sites, although this won’t be the case in all of them. Middle Eastern countries, for instance, or those with Sharia Law, can take a particularly hard line on residents caught gambling. For this reason, it is always worth exploring the gambling law of the country you reside in before you decide to bet online.

Information About Online Gambling Work Basics

Now that we’ve covered online gambling definition, it is now time to look at the basics of betting.

In almost all cases, you’re going to be required to sign-up to a casino or sportsbook to gamble. After doing so, you can sign in. Of course, you’ll also need to deposit to fund your gambling habits.

Most casinos offer bonuses and promotions, and this will help bolster your balance.

Some new players sign up solely to online casinos because they offer the games you want to play. Others prefer sportsbooks, poker, or bingo domains. There are also so-called “all-in-one” betting sites, which tend to offer you the best of all these options. Irrespective of where you’ve signed up, once you’re registered and have a balance to your name, you can start exploring the many different ways to bet that your chosen site has to offer.

Online Gambling vs Land-Based Gambling

There are plenty of perks to choosing online gambling over traditional land-based betting options.

Typical online casino welcome bonus
Casino bonuses are one of the primary reasons players prefer online casinos to brick-and-mortar venues

Of course, we’re not just talking about casino bonuses, even if they are the most obvious perk. Below, you’ll find a list of the pros and cons associated with online gambling sites.

Online Gambling ProsOnline Gambling Cons
A wealth of promos and bonusesOften lacks the atmosphere found in land-based venues
A greater selection of games from a broader array of providersSome countries do not permit online gambling, even if they do allow land-based betting
Instant support whenever you need itThere are a fair few scam sites out there
Play anywhere, at any timeMore difficult to count cards
Responsible gambling tools are provided to keep you safe

Let’s not write off land-based gambling, either. There are plenty of decent reasons why brick-and-mortar betting still has a role to play. We’ve charted the pros and cons of land-based gambling for you below.

Land-Based Gambling ProsLand-Based Gambling Cons
Authentic, exciting experience and atmosphereYou cannot wager anywhere, at anytime
You can make a trip or weekend out of itYour finances also go towards hotels, food, drink, and travel expenses
VIP schemes tend to be more generousLimited tables and slot machines
Less risk of scamsYou may not be able to just leave the table whenever you choose
It is more difficult to use strategy guides

Playing at online casinos in the USA is easier than you might think, despite the differences in state laws. Follow the steps below to become a new player at a top US casino today:

  • If your state does license and regulate online casinos, then you’ll definitely want to play at one of those sites.
  • Visit the state-licensed online casino and sign-up as a new player.
  • If your state doesn’t license and regulate online casinos, you’ll need to head to offshore betting sites.
  • Finding an offshore casino that accepts Americans isn’t tricky at all. There are hundreds out there.
  • Only choose offshore US casinos that are licensed and regulated, and offer responsible gambling tools.
  • After finding one, hit the e-form to sign-up as a new player. Verify your account via email.

Sign in to deposit, claim your welcome bonus and start playing at either casino today.


We wouldn’t necessarily say that they are better. However, online games are more closely scrutinized, and you can find out information relating to RTP rates, volatility, house edges, and so on that you simply wouldn’t get playing in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Some do, yes. Many of the major land-based casino and bookmaker businesses have online betting sites. Not all of them offer this service, though.

Some countries effectively run monopolies. They only license state-run online gambling sites and don’t award licenses to offshore or private operators. This limits the choices open to bettors.

We wouldn’t say that it is legal, per se. However, cryptocurrency gambling is often deemed as being “unregulated”. This often means that you’re not breaking the law by playing at those casinos and sportsbooks, although they are “less safe” than licensed and regulated gambling sites.

That depends on where you play. Many of the mainstream, globally popular brands run sportsbook and casino gambling services under the same roof. Some even throw in poker and bingo gambling options for good measure.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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