Games That Made Online Gambling a Million-Dollar Industry

It seems that in a post-pandemic world, every activity that can possibly move online is doing so – and online gambling is a perfect example. Online casinos and betting sites reported well over $70 billion in profits in 2021. These figures are expected to reach well over $100 billion by 2025. Compare that to the excitement around commercial land-based gambling reaching $44 billion in 2021, and it’s clear that this isn’t a trend anymore. It’s a de-throning, so to speak.

Casino Game Evolution

But how did online gambling sites come to supplant the century-old brick-and-mortar casino? Plenty of arguments can be made. It’s generally cheaper, more convenient, and vastly more accessible. But that’s not the full picture.

The fact is that the way players approach real-money gambling games has evolved faster in this last decade than ever before. Online gambling platforms allow game-creators to approach their work with infinitely more ambition. Plain roulette wheels and blackjack tables are out. It’s a new era of casino games, and if you look back, you can easily pinpoint a few turning points.

Note – the history and scope of online gambling games are too large to cover in one short article. If you want the details on some of the games we’ve discussed here, check out Casino Bloke. There you can find curated details of thousands of online games, complete with casino recommendations on where to play them.

Let’s have a look at some online casino games that brought about the digital gambling revolution.

Book of Ra by Greentube

If you open up any online casino lobby these days, you’re bound to be flooded with various “Book of…” games. All of these are essentially spin-offs, copies, and mimics of this classic. The Book of Ra dates back to trusty old slot machines, but it’s easy to see why it’s so impactful.

At a quick glance, it’s clear that it bears many of the features players expect from a modern slot game. Wild symbols that substitute others, free spin bonus games and specials, and so on. Moreover, slot machines at this point were no longer just nameless reels with bland symbols on them. The best slots had to have imagery, a theme, a style of play – a story, so to speak.

This approach to slot game design grew rapidly once online casinos truly spread. A very popular example is a poorly-worded copy of this game, Play’n Go’s Book of Dead. Play’n Go essentially took these ideas and re-packaged them as an Indiana Jones-style adventure experience. With a clearer focus on characters and theme, Book of Dead eclipsed the original in both scope and profit.

More importantly for our purposes, the house edge – the casino’s inherent advantage – is less than half that of Book of Ra. In short, online casino games require less overhead and can quickly reach unlimited audiences. These facts allow them to drastically reduce the income casinos require to keep them profitable.

Mega Moolah by Microgaming

By 2006, and infinite potential of having global casino customer bases became quite apparent. The Mega Moolah slot game series is one of the most prolific and successful in the online gambling sphere. There’s not much to it if you look at the surface. The original Microgaming Mega Moolah is a rather plain-looking, barebones kind of game. However, it has one gleaming advantage that propelled it to super-stardom: a progressive jackpot.

The jackpot is likely a familiar concept to most of us. Essentially, a small cut of every bet made in the game goes towards a prize pool. If you get a lucky one-in-a-million hit, you win the whole pool. It’s a concept countless top online slots have tried to emulate with mixed results.

Yet in Mega Moolah, the progressive features are the main attraction. Unleash the potential to win an infinitely big pot of money on the world, and the results are quite predictable. And the key factor here is that the more people play Mega Moolah slots, the better the games become. Fast-forward a few years and the Microgaming hit became known as the “millionaire-maker slot.”

Lightning Roulette by Evolution

Now we’ll take a full turn away from online slots to another old-time classic: roulette. Online roulette had plenty of ups and downs during its development. Initially, it turned out that computer-generated results are simply not as compelling as the trusty old ball and wheel. Live dealer casino games changed that by introducing a simple solution – a live stream broadcast of an actual roulette table. For years, online roulette casino games trucked along as a silent but ever-present mainstay at top online casinos.

Around the mid-2010s, however, Evolution Gaming emerged as an unstoppable force in the online gambling world. They are now one of the leading brands in the vertical – especially when it comes to live dealer casinos. The reasons behind their rise can be found in many areas. Firstly, their own games oozed production value unlike anything else on the market. However, 2016’s Lightning Roulette game marks a real turning point.

Lightning Roulette took a simple broadcast of a simple game and turned it into a TV-worthy spectacle. With a large, impressive bespoke studio and explosive big-number multipliers, it changed the world of live casino gambling forever.

It was always apparent that players don’t necessarily gamble for the profits. They’re there for the experience. Online casino games always tried to bring the experience of a casino to your computer screen. They’ve had success, of course, but it was always limited. However, the success of Lightning Roulette points to the fact that online casino games can be something completely new and exciting, unshackled by poor attempts at mimicking the “real thing.”

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