The Evolution of Online Casino Software
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‘The only thing constant in life is change’, wrote François de la Rochefoucauld back in the 15th century. François could have been writing about online casinos, such is the speed of innovation within the online casino industry.
It’s hard to believe but prior to 1994, there was no online casinos! Online gambling has become so popular that it feels that it has always been with us. Even though it was technically possible before 1994 a series of events happened which made online gambling possible. The first major factor was the development of gaming software. Computerised gaming software had been around since the early 1970’s and was used within land-based casinos.
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However, home computers before this time were quite primitive and the average family computer didn’t have the processing power to give a great online casino experience. As technology became more advanced even modest computers were now capable of making millions of calculations per minute. This technology became cheaper and faster and within the reach of the average person.
The second major development was the realisation of technology that enabled a central nodal server to talk to different computers which allowed the gaming software to talk to the host and enable two-way communication.
The final piece of the jigsaw was the creation of a regulatory body which was created in 1994. The passing of the ‘Free Trade & Processing Act’ was passed in the Caribbean and this resulted in a huge surge of both investment and interest. One of our recommended software providers Microgaming was instrumental in opening the first true online casino in 1994.
Which Are the Best Casino Software Providers?
As you will see from this article there is a large choice for any online casino as regards to who they use to power their casino games. Some companies rely on just one provider whereas others take a more selective approach and ‘pick and mix’ their offerings. So for example they may select a few slot machines from NetEnt, a few from Playtech and have their table games such as poker and roulette supplied by Microgaming. This level of flexibility is of course great for both the casino and the customer.
Many online casino operators take advantage of what is known as ‘white label’ offerings, this is where the branding is chosen by the online casino and the games are tweaked depending on the casino’s requirements. From little things like the colour of the cloth on the poker table to individual settings like the return-to-player percentage can be changed to suit.
The vast majority of software houses don’t run a casino themselves, a notable exception is 888 Casino who also run Dragonfish and Random Logic. This enables the game makers to really concentrate on the quality of their offerings and game developers like Playtech regularly create in excess of 50 games per year. Another advantage to the consumer is that progressive jackpots can span over multiple sites and the amount on offer can at times be huge.
One of the downsides of having software providers supplying different casinos is that sometimes a casino can have a very similar range of games to another casino. However with the huge jackpots on offer as well as the improved choice for consumers, we believe that the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
|At A Glance: Our Top 3|
|Software House||Features||Positive and Negative Points|
|.Playtech||SlotsYes||Very mobile and instant play friendlyRecognisable brands such as Marvel licensedGreat selection of top quality slot games|
|Download OptionYes||Early days the software could be unreliable but this has since been rectified.|
|.Microgaming||SlotsYes||Massive networked jackpot slotsInstant play and download games supportedCasino tournaments supported|
|Download OptionYes||Many of the games are just rehashed – not original, reskins.|
|.Netent||SlotsYes||All games are available in instant play making it most mobile friendlyGreat table games which look fantastic|
|Download OptionYes||Some games seem slow to load compared to other providers|
Top 3 Casino Gaming Software Houses
We have chosen our top 3 software providers that constantly produce the best games and are highly respected within the online casino industry. Playtech, NetEnt, Microgaming: these are the giants of the online casino world.
Founded in 1999, Playtech is one of the best known and respected software houses within the online casino world. Featuring a huge collection of over 500 casino, poker and sportsbook games there is something for everyone in their large portfolio. This has been increased even further with Playtech acquisition of Ash Gaming.
Microgaming was one of the first companies to cater for the fledgling online casino market back in 1994. Since then they have created an astonishing 750 unique casino games but not only that, they have also created over 1,200 variants of these games, ensuring their product line up always remains fresh and appealing to casino players.
Over 40 high quality table games is just the start for this casino software giant. Founded in 1996, NetEnt was one of the first to produce high-quality gambling software. Employing over 500 full-time employees, they are a company with their finger on the pulse of online gaming. Read our Netent review by following the link on the left to find out more.
Our top 3 casino providers have invested heavily in licensing the biggest names in films, tv shows & entertainment. From Hollywood blockbusters to BBC comedies, there really is something for everyone. Many of the games can be played in ‘free-play’ or practice mode so you can have fun without spending a penny of your money to find your favourite. Check some of them out in the slider below.
Other Software Providers
We have chosen the top 3 software providers that we as players prefer. There are of course lots more software houses that we do not provide a full review on and we have listed some of these for your information below. The reason they are not in our top 3 is varied, it could be that they are not licensed for the UK market or we may feel that the game selection is somewhat lacking. However, ensure you check back often as we do review this list regularly.
BOSS MEDIA: The company has been in the gambling software arena for more than 10 years and Boss Media was one of the first to create and operate it’s own casino and gaming portal (casino.com). They left the retail casino business to concentrate on offering ‘white label’ casino offerings to interested parties (for a reputed $300,000 & share of the revenue).
It has been able to put its experience of running a casino to good use by producing a good range of products. Only available at a small amount of online casinos, Boss Media’s offering look really nice but suffers from slow gameplay at times.
NOVOMATIC: Whilst probably not as well known to the general public as the other software providers, Novomatic are a huge company with an annual turnover of over £2.7 billion. It’s not just casino gaming software they excel at, they produce and manufacture physical slot machines used in pubs, clubs and brick-and-mortar casinos and have over 230,000 in operation.
CHARTWELL: Chartwell once upon a time used to provide the casino offerings at the giant Betfair but since that ended in 2010 there is little to suggest they will once again hit these dizzy heights. Game selection is average at best and Chartwell games tend to be flash-based. The general quality of the games is also average and some of the games suffer from bad design and flaws such as annoying pop ups. Game selection is adequate but not great.
CRYPTOLOGIC: Cryptologic had very humble beginnings, initially founded in the basement of Andrew Rivkin and Mark Rivkin’s house in 1995 in Toronto, Canada. The company has had quite an illustrious history such as partnering with William Hill which enabled William Hill to become the first land-based operator to go online with a casino.
On the casino software side of things, CryptoLogic are one of the best in use today due mainly to the great graphics and overall quality. They offer some unique games and all the usual content you would expect from a casino platform. Game play can be a bit slow on some table games but certainly not the worst we have seen. The jackpot at Millionaire’s Club is in excess of a couple of million. A very trusted company and one to watch.
GALE WIND: Gale Wind are a small software developer that is only used in a couple of more obscure casinos. They specialise in flash based software and whilst being a small company the quality they offer is above average for such a tiny operation. The game selection is slightly strange with a few unique games being offered but some popular games are missing from their line up. Slots are below average and the choice of video poker is very limited.
ORBIS: Orbis OpenBet is perhaps better known not for their casino offerings but rather the ‘flash’ casino games, otherwise known as instant win games. Many well known casinos use Orbis games in the games tab that you can play whilst playing other games. That said, Orbis do offer table games and whilst the quality of the graphics is good, gameplay is often too slow and can be quite annoying. Many casinos choose to ‘pick and mix’ Orbis games with games from other suppliers. Orbis has historically suffered from software bugs and glitches.
PARTY GAMING: Party Gaming is part of the very popular Party Poker group and only provides casino software to its own Party Casino brand. Despite its relatively small footprint, the software is well known and liked. Whilst adequate, the graphics and gameplay does not rival that of the bigger players but it does in some respects make up for this with exclusive games and virtual racing offerings. Multi-player blackjack is a strong point for Party Gaming but the video poker is below average.
RANDOM LOGIC: Random Logic are a bit different to other software providers on this list in the fact that they are part of the 888 group which own and run 888 Casino. Random Logic sits under the 888 subsidiary ‘Dragonfish’ and provides 888 Casino and Casino-on-net with 43 unique and exclusive games.
Whilst generally the games are to a high quality, they lack the cutting edge of some of the premium titles from Microgaming and Playtech. Still some of the slot games like Millionaire Genie and Party Pigs are fine to play and are used to entice customers to sign up for 888’s £88 free offer.
REAL TIME GAMING: Real time gaming were established back in 1998 and were taken over in 2007 by Hastings International. Real time gaming hit the headlines in 2004 when a customer won over $1 million from a $1000 deposit whilst playing Caribbean 21 at Hampton Casino. The same player also won nearly $100,000 at Delano casino which was also a Real Time Gaming powered casino. The player was accused of cheating by the casino as they alleged the player was using an automated playing program.
With regards to their online casino software, overall they are to a high standard. Game quality and graphics are generally above average but not quite to the same standard as Playtech and such like. The game speed is fast on the table games and the slots look good. The progressive slots do not have the eye-watering amounts as other rivals and the jackpot is slow to increase which perhaps shows that they are not that popular. Some casinos using Real Time Gaming software have been very dodgy and this has tarnished the provider’s reputation.
RIVAL: One thing we really love about Rival is the speed of their games, especially blackjack. A good player can complete some serious card action in a short period of time. There are a few unique games that are exclusive to Rival and overall the games are to a high standard. The payout levels are high and are comparable in general to some of the bigger software makers. When testing the software we found a few glitches that were more annoying than game affecting. Some of the online casinos using Rival software have been plagued by payout disputes and generally have been getting a bad reputation. A promising software company which may in time be on our recommended list.
VEGAS TECHNOLOGY: Vegas technology was originally founded in 1998 but totally left the online casino market at the end of 2011. This ‘phoenix from the flames’ then re-emerged in 2014 and currently powers over 100 casinos catering for players from the US, Australia and of course the UK. The software whilst not a world beater works well, graphics are average and gameplay is fast and fluid. Certainly one to watch for the future.
VUETEC: Vuetec software powers a few of the more obscure casinos which are based in southern Ireland. They primarily focus on the live dealer market and feature blackjack, roulette and baccarat tables that are broadcast from a real club based in Dublin. The live dealer blackjack game has a unique twist in that the player does not make the usual hit / stand or double decisions, the dealer makes them decisions and player has the option to continue or ‘cash out’. Although they have a few unique games, generally the quality is quite poor. The gameplay is slow and tedious at times.
WAGERWORKS: Wagerworks has quite a few big casino names that use their software and are definitely one to watch and are likely to be featured on our site in the future. The quality of the games they offer is great and they have some interesting games that aren’t featured anywhere else, such as power blackjack. We love the fact that they are very transparent with their return-to-player rates and the top casino software makers could learn a thing or two from this approach. The main downside is a history of server-related problems which in the past has meant time out issues. This is a shame as this provider shows true promise.
WORLD GAMING: World Gaming is quite a small software provider. They offer a sportsbook as well as casino offerings. The game selection is pretty average which can also be said about the graphics and presentation in general. The downloadable content is pretty poor and some of the slots suffer from poor design with an almost impossible to read pay table.
GRAND VIRTUAL: No longer used in online casinos, Grand Virtual software switched to Playtech in 2013.
Do the Software Providers Allow the Use of Bots?
If you have been searching the internet for online casinos, you may have seen adverts for ‘bots’ that claim to make you huge sums of money. The software claims that it will play all the games for you automatically. You just need to sit back and wait for the millions to come rolling in! Sounds too good to be true, right?
First let’s explore what a bot is and why would someone want to use them. ‘Bot’ is short for robot and it is a piece of software that automates the process of playing certain casino games such as video poker and slots. The idea is that humans are prone to mistakes, we hate to admit it but even the most dedicated, careful player can over a long session make plays that are not mathematically the most optimum way of playing. A bot on the other hand doesn’t make mistakes (as long as there are no mistakes in the bot’s coding), a bot doesn’t feel emotion and a bot will not feel pressured to chase a win. A bot is also able to see patterns in other players actions in poker, it will study when another player bluffs, raises and folds. The bot can be a formidable opponent as it never tires, never gets hungry and has no adrenaline rush to deal with.
So you are reading this and it all sounds good news right? After all, if you are playing at a poker site and have taken a nice welcome bonus then it can take hours and hours of play to clear the wagering requirement. This can for an experienced player be be many, many hours of very boring play if you do it manually.
But! And this is a big but… The use of bots is strictly forbidden by the vast majority of casino sites. If you do get caught then you will lose your winnings, maybe even your deposit as well for breaking the site’s terms and conditions.
It’s not just that you may be kicked from the site either! Although using bots isn’t illegal, any such ‘get rich quick’ schemes can attract dubious rogues and unless you are a computer programmer who has hours to study lines of code, you can never be sure what is being installed on your computer.
We have heard many horror stories of people installing software which contains ‘malware’ or malicious software which infects a computer and can send your personal information to criminals who can use this to commit identity theft. In our view it’s just not worth the risk. If you want to read more about bots, the Guardian newspaper have a good article about this which you can read here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I play all the games in my browser?
The ability to play games in the browser is something many of us love and as technology has got better and better it is less common to download a client software than it was even a year ago. However a software download is not always a bad thing. Some games are available through the download client only, this can be for a number of reasons such as the site may detect that your broadband speed is not fast enough to guarantee optimum performance, by downloading a lot of the files this takes the strain off your connection. It may be also that the game size is quite large and the client software can download a large catalogue of titles in the background which makes them quicker to play if you often switch between titles.
Do I need to download software to play casino games?
As mentioned in the previous question it is not always necessary to download, depending on what device you use it may not be an option either. Most games are adaptive and use HTML5 technology which means they are aware of what device you are using and will optimise themselves to give you the best gaming experience. This is great news for the end user who may access the same game on multiple devices.
Is it free to download casino software?
Yes absolutely. Again it’s not usually a mandatory requirement to download anyway but no operator would charge you for downloading their software.
What is the best software for playing casino games on Android?
This is usually down to personal preference, depending on which types of games you wish to play. As we have stated in the main text, many providers pick games from the different software manufacturers so it’s not unusual to see the same titles at different casinos.
What is the best casino software for Iphone and Ipad?
As with Android it usually comes down to personal choice. A few years back a lot of casino games were developed using Adobe Flash technology. This was bad news for owners of Apple devices as the decision was made by Apple not to support this technology. Thankfully HTML5 technology has replaced Flash and HTML5 is designed to work on all modern devices and allows a graphic rich, full multimedia experience and even takes advantage of the larger screen size on the Ipads and the new Iphone 6 Plus.