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Quality online casinos rate high in many areas, including customer service, reputability, promotions, banking options, and VIP bonuses. However, nothing is more important to a casino's success than its games.
Sites that offer the hottest games and innovative features stand a strong chance of succeeding. It also helps to supplement cutting edge games with smooth mobile compatibility an user-friendly casino platforms.
Software developers that deliver top-shelf games and casino packages are in high demand. You'll see the leading software providers repeatedly featured across the industry.
The internet gaming world never stays still, with developers always trying to outdo each other regarding graphics, in-game bonuses, and jackpots.
Entertainment value isn't the only factor, however. Players also need to make sure that software providers offer fair gaming. This validation comes in the form of third-party auditing and licensing.
Understanding all the aspects that comprise quality software and fair gaming makes it easier to choose the best casinos. You can use your knowledge of a casino site's software providers to ensure they have what you need to gamble.
The online gaming industry is worth billions. This massive market has created the need for many internet casino software providers to help gaming sites serve their customers.
Online casino software refers to both the games and platforms that casinos use. Modern software developers provide a range of services including table games, progressive jackpots, customer support, payment systems, affiliate programs, security, and fair gaming (third-party testing).
Some casinos only feature one software provider. For example, they may exclusively run Microgaming, NetEnt, or Realtime Gaming (RTG) software. These sites/operations often license a software company's full array of services, including customer support, promotions, and security.
This is why many online casinos across the industry appear similar. For instance, RTG sites commonly have the same games, progressive jackpots, customer service options, and comparable promos. These setups allow a smaller gaming operator to enter the market without developing every aspect of the business themselves. It also negates having to license and contract different companies for the various operations needed to run a casino.
Larger casino operators may license games and services from multiple providers. For example, a gaming site could license products from Microgaming, NetEnt, Play'n GO, Playtech, and Quickspin.
Each software developer has a style when it comes to slots, table games, and live casino setups. More variety appeals to players.
Internet casino software developers are known for their games and jackpots. Regardless, you can see that providers offer additional services that aren't as popular -- yet are integral to casino operations.
The internet gaming industry was once an unregulated environment, where software developers could operate in any country or jurisdiction. Since then, many nations have crafted online gambling laws and created regulatory frameworks.
Countries with regulated internet gambling require licensing from casino sites and developers within their jurisdiction. Developers that don't obtain proper licensing will face difficulties finding buyers for their services.
Examples of reputable licensing bodies include the Danish Gambling Authority (Denmark), Malta Gaming Authority (much of Europe), and the UK Gambling Commission (United Kingdom).
Software companies that operate in licensed jurisdictions mostly stay out of unregulated (a.k.a. grey) environments. Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech are examples of providers that stick to regulated markets.
Some gaming providers operate in grey markets, including countries with ambiguous internet gambling laws (e.g., Canada). These software companies may obtain licensing from unheralded jurisdictions, such as Antigua, Costa Rica, or Curacao while operating from different countries.
Casinos that offer services to grey markets are referred to as "offshore" sites. Offshore casinos must work with software providers that are willing to brave unregulated environments. Betsoft, Rival Gaming, and RTG are a few of the providers that serve offshore segments.
It's vital to understand your country's online gaming situation and which providers can serve you. Americans who try to access Microgaming software will get a rejection message and an unloaded game. However, US players can enjoy games from Pragmatic Play (formerly TopGame) and WGS.
Meanwhile, casinos operating in countries with licensed gaming can use top-tier providers like Evolution Gaming, Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, Play'n GO, and Yggdrasil. However, software developers that operate in unregulated markets may avoid licensed countries over legal issues.
When online casinos first launched, they ran on download-only platforms that used megabytes at a time when bandwidth was precious. Since then, internet gaming software has moved on to include more convenient platforms and different experiences.
Download clients are still around for laptop and desktop players. The advantage of downloading casino software is that you sometimes have access to more games. Drawbacks are that you must use a computer and wait for the download/installation to complete.
Instant play (a.k.a. in-browser) software is more common in today's gaming world. Instant casinos let you play directly through your browser without downloading a software package.
In-browser gaming generally fits into two categories: Flash and HTML5.
The Adobe Flash plugin allows players to run casino games through a browser. This freeware is standard on PCs and Macs, which can easily power Flash-based games.
However, Flash isn't considered the best program for mobile devices. The late Steve Jobs often criticized the program for consuming too much mobile battery life and leaving users vulnerable security-wise.
Mobile casino sites have found that HTML5 is more efficient at powering their platforms. HTML5 is a markup language used to present internet content.
This markup language is supported by smartphones and tablets including Android devices, iPhones, and iPads. HTML5 is also available on laptop and desktop computers, although less than on mobile devices.
A significant advantage to playing HTML5 casino games is that you don't need to install a plugin. Instead, you can play games immediately without the use of third-party applications.
The first mobile casinos launched in the mid-2000s, at a time when mobile technology was less advanced. Therefore, software providers didn't have immediate success in the new mobile telephone market.
The later advent of smartphones and tablets allowed software developers to produce better casino games. Today, all developers offer products through both native apps or HTML5.
Android and iOS are the two primary operating systems that mobile casino games can be accessed through. Some software companies feature games that are compatible with Blackberry and Windows Phone.
Virtual table games have been around for a long time. These games use software-generated technology to create authentic versions of baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, and other table offerings. Unfortunately, virtual games aren't as convincing as the real thing.
Live dealer casinos, contrarily, bring a realistic atmosphere to your device. Live gaming features a human dealer and real casino equipment.
You can interact with the dealer via the chat function. The dealer can choose to verbally respond to any questions or comments that come through chat. This setup provides an element of human interaction not available through other types of online gaming.
Another exciting aspect of live casinos is the atmosphere. Software providers either house their live dealer operations in studios or real casinos. The studios are set up to resemble brick-and-mortar gambling environments.
The number of live dealer games that you can access varies by company. Baccarat, blackjack, and roulette are staples among live casino providers. A large company like Evolution Gaming offers more options, including Caribbean stud, casino hold'em, double-ball roulette, speed roulette, and three-card poker.
Online gaming causes some players to be suspicious of results, especially when they're losing. This feeling is natural considering that casino software uses random number generators (RNGs) rather than tangible objects to determine outcomes. Third-party auditing, though, assures players that they're dealing with fair games.
Gaming regulatory bodies legally require that casinos have their games and software monitored on a monthly or quarterly basis. For example, the UK Gambling Commission doesn't let online casinos operate in their country without regular audits.
A gaming site isn't obligated to share the name of their auditor with the public. They are required to share this information with the relevant licensing authority. Regardless, many casinos proudly share details of successful testing, so players have confidence in them. It's common to see a seal from eCOGRA, iTech Labs, or another testing lab listed at the bottom of a gaming site's homepage.
Third-party testing labs look at the RNG and average return'-to-player (RTP) for various games so that everything complies with a jurisdiction's regulations.
If an audit fails, then the gaming entity can lose their license. Therefore, it's foolish for an online casino to cheat players under regulation.
Launched in 2003 as a non-profit, eCOGRA is one of the most respected auditing agencies in online gaming. The UK-based foundation offers their seal to any casino that passes their testing.
GLI provides their services to a range of gaming related businesses, including online casinos, land-based casinos, and lotteries. They currently offer testing in over 500 state-level and national jurisdictions.
The Australia-based iTech Labs audits internet gaming sites and provides consultation. Their consultations are designed to help casinos and software developers ensure their products meet required standards.
Gaming Associates is one of the oldest gaming auditing companies. GA tests for fairness on both casino and poker sites.
Already an experienced brick-and-mortar auditor, NMi began testing online casino software in 2007. They're now one of the largest auditors and have offices in Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK.
BMM is another testing lab that consults casino software companies on how to best comply with gaming regulations. They have offices all over the world and test online and land-based casinos in over 400 jurisdictions.
Dozens of internet casino software providers exist within the industry. Some have earned better reputations than others regarding game quality and ancillary needs like customer service, banking systems, and affiliate programs.
The top software designers are found at many gaming sites because they're in demand. These firms can also charge higher licensing fees due to their successful track records and the attention they garner from gamblers.
Some casinos try to cut licensing costs and put their spin on gaming by creating in-house software. In-house development teams make games for individual gaming sites or casino groups.
One example is 888 Holdings, which owns a developer called Random Logic. Producing hit slots like City Life, Irish Riches, and Millionaire Genie, Random Logic is perhaps the most successful, in-house casino software developer. 888 also licenses games from outside developers.
Modern casino operations usually sign deals with one or more top-tier providers. Some of the most popular game developers are:
This Swedish company launched in 1996 and has improved with each passing year. NetEnt's 3D graphics are impeccable, while their game features have helped innovate the gaming world.
Launched in Estonia in 1999, Playtech has remained one of the industry's best casino providers for years. They particularly enjoyed success with their Marvel-themed games, until cutting ties with Marvel in 2017.
Microgaming is easily the largest developer in terms of variety. They feature over 600 titles, with slots, virtual table games, and live dealer products.
Rival is well known for their i-Slots series, which features games that tell stories as you play. Rival is one of the most prominent casino software developers in grey markets.
Realtime isn't known for producing award-winning games. Instead, they're a developer that's mainly famous for dominating unregulated markets like the most of the US, Australia, Canada, and South Africa.
Based in Nevada, IGT is known as a leading slots provider to land-based casinos. They've also produced dozens of hit online slots, such as Apollo Rising, Cleopatra, Da Vinci Diamonds, Family Guy, Jeopardy, and Wolf Rising.
Evolution is arguably the best live dealer gaming outfit. This company is dedicated solely to live casino games, showing in their friendly dealers, quality streaming, and game variety.
Yes. It's quite common to find the same games across many online casinos. Numerous gaming sites license products from the same popular software companies.
The reason for some providers' success is that they create innovative and high-quality games. Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, and Evolution Gaming all fall into this category.
Some software companies succeed because they're cheaper to license and are available to markets in need. Rival Gaming and RTG are perfect examples because they serve an American market with few options. Whatever the case, you'll see certain games and providers featured in many different sites.
The problem with proprietary games and software is that they require significant development costs. Most casinos are better off licensing games from specialist companies.
A dedicated developer has the equipment and training to focus on creating casino games. These businesses pour money and resources into their development process because they know their products can generate revenue from multiple casinos.
Licensing games -- rather than developing in-house -- frees up casino staff to work on promotions and the financial details of their operation.
Most internet casino software providers offer play and free gaming. Developers and casinos benefit from free action since it allows players to test their products. Trying games for free is the first step towards depositing and making real-money wagers.
Live dealer casinos are the one exception to offering free gaming. Many live dealer studios will let people watch the games, but they won't let them play for free. The dealers have salaries, which is why these casinos don't open live tables up to free bets.