How Gambling Has Changed Since the 80s

Written By Alla Levin
April 22, 2022

How Gambling Has Changed Since the 80s

Gambling in some form or another has been around for millennia, but it is arguably within the past 40 years that the most significant changes have occurred in the digital sphere.

Since the first-ever online gambling website opened at the turn of the 90s (offering tickets for the now-defunct Liechtenstein International Lottery), Slot online gambling has hit the stratosphere.

These technological shifts have impacted gambling in several ways, affecting how land-based casinos do business. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most significant ways gambling has changed since the 1980s.

Free bets

This is one that people do not usually think of, but it is probably the most significant shift of all. Back in the 80s, the idea of a casino giving random people on the street free bets and casino credit to gamble with would have been dismissed as nonsensical. However, this is now the primary operating approach for the top casinos.

Just look at the dedicated casino offers page at, one of the top online casinos in the world. Any person with a Paddy Power account can claim weekly free bets on slots, as well as free chips to use at the poker table. Offers like this did not exist in any form a few decades prior.

The reinvention of VegasHow Gambling Has Changed Since the 80s

Las Vegas has always been the chimera city, changing and reinventing itself constantly. However, its phoenix-like rebirth since the 1980s is without a doubt its most dramatic change yet. At the turn of the 80s, Vegas had a global reputation for seediness and after-dark-only fun.

However, since then, the city has become a top vacation hotspot, competing with other world-class destinations in the region, as we can see at Many of the world’s top festivals, concerts, art exhibitions, and sports events now take place in Vegas, drawing in billions of dollars a year for the local economy.

Gamble anywhere

Back in the 80s, if you wanted to play a round of slots, you’d have to be pretty close to a casino. Nonetheless, this is very much not the case anymore. All you need to do is whip out your smartphone, go to an online casino platform, and pick your favorite games to play. For almost the entirety of the history of gambling, people were greatly constrained by geography. The fact that this is no longer an issue for millions of casino gamers worldwide represents a change in how we conceive of gambling as an activity.

How Gambling Has Changed Since the 80s: More choice

Anyone who stepped into a time machine from the 80s to now would probably be quick to remark that there is simply so much more choice in virtually everything these days. The same is absolutely true when it comes to gambling. There are thousands upon thousands of different slot games to choose from, as well as a dizzying array of table games that did not even exist in the 1980s.

Some might find all of these choices to be overwhelming, as suggested by a study by, but it certainly means that there is something for everyone.  The world has changed beyond recognition since the 1980s, and this is abundantly clear when you look at casino gambling. However, one thing that has remained the same is the enduring popularity of the casino in all its forms.

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