If you speak to any of the iGaming (online casino and sports betting) industry leaders, you can be sure they are hugely excited about the opening of the US market for online betting and gaming. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down sports betting in 2018, the rush has been on to enter and take a slice of the US online market, particularly as more and more individual states pass bills to open up the online gambling sector.
While you might initially think of the big players like MGM and DraftKings, it’s worth noting that the online casino sector is not powered by the operators, as such. Sure, having a trusted casino platform to play on is essential, but those sites need the best games, and that means titles from the top software developers.
Those developers are essential for the growth of the sector in the United States, and they will play a key role as more states liberalize online gaming laws. Below we look at five of the most important in the sector:
Evolution Gaming is arguably the most influential casino software developer in the world. It is at the forefront of the live dealer market, supplying live gaming software to top casino brands like Jackpot City. While Evolution is widely credited with acting as the catalyst for the roll-out of live casino games globally, it has also recently gotten involved with RNG games. It has done this through the acquisitions of important developers like NetEnt, Big Time Gaming, and No Limit City. As such, Evolution has become a behemoth that covers all genres of the sector. Its commitment to innovation – Evolution is always rolling the dice with new types of gaming concepts – ensures it will be at the forefront in the 2020s and beyond.
Let’s go back to the start: Microgaming is widely credited as the first developer of true online casino software back in the 1990s. While this claim is often disputed, not uncommon when we are talking about the nascent days of the world wide web in the 90s, it’s undeniable that Microgaming has shaped the modern online casino sector. It has 100s of games in its library, and it operates several satellite studios. Perhaps most notably, Microgaming is behind the online casino game with the biggest progressive jackpot network in the world – Mega Moolah.
Due to the majority of wagering activity being incremental to existing spend, micro-betting could be a major factor in pushing in-play wagering on US sports to levels comparable to those observed in Europe for basketball and tennis. Players can place bets on specific plays during games in real-time thanks to the expanding number of sports betting software suppliers. With the talent of sports betting, it provides quick gratification and ongoing betting opportunities for online gaming.
Playtech is an interesting one. It is a huge business, listed on the London Stock Exchange. But it is almost, let’s say, niche at the same time. It tends to sign exclusivity deals with online casinos, meaning that the platforms host only Playtech games (or mostly Playtech games). Above, we mentioned Jackpot City, which hosts games from Evolution, Microgaming, Pragmatic (see below), and many other developers. Casinos that host Playtech games tend to be known as “Playtech casinos”. That’s fine if you enjoy Playtech games, but a lot of players prefer the variety. Nonetheless, Playtech has found huge success by partnering with some of the huge UK and European betting brands, often through these exclusive deals. It remains to be seen whether it can follow the same formula in the United States.
The vast majority of major casino software developers were founded in the 1990s or early 2000s. That tends to give them the so-called first-mover advantage. Not so Pragmatic, which didn’t launch until 2015. Nevertheless, the company is now a veritable powerhouse in iGaming. Its secret sauce is arguably its high-volatility games. These games, which tend to offer explosive wins, are regularly the titles of choice for casino streamers on sites like YouTube and Twitch. That gives the brand a lot of exposure, and it ensures that Pragmatic games are a must for every top online casino.
We’ll finish with what is by far the oldest brand on this list. IGT was founded all the way back in 1975. That, of course, means it predated online casinos. However, IGT was – and still is – one of the biggest names in physical slot machines. If you have walked through a casino floor in Las Vegas or AC, you’ll have seen an IGT slot machine or two. Anyway, it’s been a major player in the online market, too, creating popular online slots, including those in the iconic Wheel of Fortune series.