It seems like forever ago that online poker was first played, as so many developments — both from a technological and legislative standpoint — have happened since that time.
But it was only just over two decades ago that that happened, with the first-ever real money online poker game having been played on Planet Poker, and then a number of popular websites such as Poker Stars, 888 Poker and Paradise Poker following soon after. And now it’s commonplace to talk about online poker, given that it’s now legal in the United States. But that wasn’t always the case, as these websites were around and had plenty of customers in the United States, they weren’t necessarily legal, and players had to use payment processors that protected their identity and helped them fly under the radar.
Online poker in the United Kingdom is a bit of a different story, though.
Everyone talks about how popular gambling like PPN has been in the UK, and on a macro level, they’re right. But it hasn’t necessarily been sports betting or online poker — the two hottest, most trendy gambling areas in the modern age — that was moving the needle per se. Instead, historically, it was horse racing, with the earliest-known race on record dating back to the 15th century. So it’s clear that gambling isn’t anything new in the UK, but for the most part, especially compared to the rest of the world, online poker actually is, to an extent. It wasn’t until the Gambling Act 2005, which was passed by the UK Gambling Commission, until the door was really opened for online poker in the UK. It was at that time that online poker began spreading in the UK, but it’s growth wasn’t anywhere near the level we saw around the rest of the world — especially in the United States and Asia.
And just because online poker isn’t as popular in the UK as it is in the US, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t gambling. Sports betting has grown like wildfire in the country, and horse racing continues to be extremely popular, moreso than anywhere else in the world. And people do still play poker, but it’s not the go-to gambling option. It is perfectly legal, however, and has been since 2005. The only stipulation is for these poker rooms to be licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. So it looks like online poker will continue to be played in both the UK and US going forward.