It’s 2019 and online casinos are more popular today than they have ever been before, with global revenues hitting an astonishing $45.8 billion in 2017 – a figure that’s predicted to almost double to $94.4 billion in 2024.
Those numbers are being fuelled by softening of gambling regulation around the world and increased access to both the fast internet and mobile computing hardware.
But when you load up your favourite online casino, you probably aren’t thinking about the software which makes it all possible. In fact, most people don’t even know that behind most online casinos are widely used, easily customized software which provides almost everything about your online gaming experience.
Digging into the ‘about’ pages on most casinos will reveal which software operator they’re rolling with, but many still choose to hide their software partners in a bid to give the impression of uniqueness in the market.
Needless to say, there are very few casinos which do create their own games, instead relying on dedicated casino software developers to create experiences which their customers will love. But who are these companies silently creating our favourite casino games behind the scenes? Join us as we share with you the best of them:
Founded in 1999, Playtech has grown to become of the biggest software providers in the world for the gaming space. They provide software to online casinos, poker rooms, bingo halls, sportsbooks and even live casinos. Operating primarily in the UK (a vast casino market) and the EU, Playtech are the parent company behind smaller operators Origins, Ash Gaming, Playtech Vikings, Psiclone Games, Quickspin, Sunfox Games, Eyecon and more.
There’s a very high chance that if you’ve ever played an online casino based in the UK, you’ve played a Playtech game.
Fast-internet and lightweight video codecs like HTML5 have meant that streaming video is incredibly popular, a fact which has given birth to the ‘live dealer’ explosion - games which are played in real life and broadcast back to users, who bet and play in real time.
One of the leaders in the live dealer sector is Evolution Gaming, who have built their entire company on it. Their live dealer games are used by some of the UK's biggest online casinos like Gala, William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral and more. Although not available in the US (yet), Evolution Gaming has received several industry awards, including Game of the Year.
For a long while, RTG casinos (RealTime Gaming) casinos were the last word in US online casinos. In fact, the phrase RTG became closely associated with online casinos in the early to mid-2000s, before awareness of the industry became as widespread as it is today.
Powering a huge percentage of the USA Online Casinos, RealTime Gaming has made significant moves in recent years to expand its product range and channel delivery. Today, they offer sportsbooks, mobile casino gaming, download games, instant play and kiosk games.
A slightly smaller operator, Microgaming has built their reputation like RealTime Gaming – in the US market. Unlike RTG though, Microgaming has been at the forefront of the latest developments in technology.
Specifically, they’ve been working on VR online casinos, launching a VR roulette product which has already found significant success. VR aside, their vastly successful poker operations and Mega Moolah slots have meant that Microgaming enjoy a sterling reputation in the casino software development sector.
What do Playtech, RealTime Gaming and Microgaming have in common? They’re all companies born in the late 90s, at the birth of the online casino industry.
IGT (International Game Technology), on the other hand, can trace their roots back to 1971, when they started selling software and hardware to brick-and-mortar casinos with gaming machines. They quickly began to throve and, today, they operate in both the physical and online casino space – offering many of the same experiences online or off.
Although less prevalent offline than on, IGT owns the casino game licenses to huge names like Family Guy, CSI, the Wheel of Fortune and Ghostbusters, making them a major draw for potential online casino operators.
The Stars Group
Formerly known as Amaya, The Stars Group changed its name in 2017 following the 2014 takeover of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker’s parent company for a huge $4.9 billion – hinting at one of their specialities.
Based in Canada, The Stars Group don’t offer games to the US casinos, but they are active around the rest of the world and offer some of the most popular slot games going thanks to their licenses for major superhero franchises like Superman and Wonder Woman, alongside other properties like The Italian Job, Jenga, Street Fighter and more.
Of course, these are merely some of the biggest companies in 2019. The industry is expanding at a remarkable rate and, as demand grows, who could say which companies will capitalize to become a leading light in the coming years.