Online gambling is a popular pastime for plenty of people, but whether you are an experienced player or a newcomer, you might not realise just how many interesting facts there are to learn about the industry.

Here are just a few surprising details about online gambling to add to your repertoire so you can impress your friends and rivals the next time you play.

The industry is worth over $53 billion

Not only did the size of the online gambling market reach $53.7 billion worldwide last year, but it is also expected to continue enjoying double-digit growth over the course of the next decade.

Sports betting currently makes up the majority of spending, followed closely by online casinos which offer slot games and a variety of comparable experiences to play on modern mobile devices. Poker comes in third place in terms of market share and revenue generation, while bingo and a host of other more obscure digital gambling activities take the smallest slice of the pie.

This balance is projected to be maintained going forward, in part because sports betting has a built-in audience in many regions already thanks to the availability of land-based services which are gradually transitioning customers over to online equivalents as regulations are updated.

The biggest ever win is $24 million

Although each year there are big winners across a wide range of online gambling services, progressive slots are by far the most lucrative option for one-off payouts, so it is no surprise to see that the records which stand at the moment are all from this type of game.

The largest ever sum won was almost €18 million, equivalent to around $24 million, which a Finnish player walked away with after betting just 25 cents. Eight figure wins of this kind are not uncommon, but this amount has yet to be bettered in almost seven years since the record was set.

The first online casinos were founded in 1994

Although online gambling might still seem like a relatively recent development, it has been around for over a quarter of a century, with the first ever software to support it created by Microgaming, a company which is still going to this day.

While 1994 is the year in which the first sites appeared, it took some time for the industry to find its feet and gain momentum. Within the first two years of its existence, the market grew to accommodate just 15 different online operators. Today, there are literally hundreds of brands operating across a wide range of territories and serving hundreds of millions of customers globally.

It is more popular with men

Gambling has always been seen as a male pastime, even before the online era emerged, and it seems that this is a trend which is set to continue.

The latest stats suggest that around a quarter of men are regular users of online gambling sites, whereas this is true for just over 17 percent of women.

The gap between the genders is closing fairly quickly, and there may eventually be a parity in terms of participation, but for the time being it looks set to remain a male-dominated industry.

Many online casinos offer live dealer games

While most web-based gambling experiences are almost entirely automated, handled by software, a growing number of casinos now support play with live dealers, thanks to the increased connection speeds and bandwidth that modern customers can access.

This means that table games like roulette and poker can be re-created online with a flesh and blood croupier orchestrating everything, making for a more realistic experience.