In many ways, an online casino is only as good as the software it relies on to host its games. The software has a direct impact on your gaming experience. It dictates whether the games you play entertain and engage you, or cause you to yawn. It also influences your banking options and welcome bonuses.
There are, of course, other factors to consider when you choose an online casino. It should have a large variety of games, bulletproof site security, responsive customer support, and a great reputation. It should also offer attractive promotions with reasonable playthrough requirements.
But the above are just the basics. All trustworthy gambling sites offer them. The defining trait is the software platform.
There are many software companies that specialize in the internet gambling niche. You’re probably familiar with a few of them. Below, I’ll profile the seven biggest names in the business and explain why they’re leading the pack.
#1 – Microgaming
This developer has been around since 1994. Its platform was used by the first online casino. Microgaming didn’t waste any time in scaling up its software and market share. It quickly grew the number of games in its stable, and today powers several hundred of them for a large segment of the online gambling space.
Microgaming offers over 100 games designed specifically for mobile. It also supports multiplayer games as well as “live dealer” blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and other table games.
One of this company’s areas of expertise is online slots. Microgaming is the developer behind popular entertainment-branded slots, such as Game of Thrones, Jurassic Park, The Dark Knight Rises, and Battlestar Galactica. It also created favorites like Immortal Romance, Scrooge, Thunderstruck II, and Retro Reels.
Microgaming is the 800 lb. gorilla in the online casino space. And it isn’t resting on its laurels. It produces two or three new games every single month.
#2 – Realtime Gaming
Realtime Gaming (RTG) exploded onto the scene in 1998. It quickly made a name for itself by developing casino games that offered seamless graphics and easy playability.
The company’s reputation is partly due to the fact that it’s relentless in its search for opportunities to improve its software platform. The result is a constantly-updated stable of new games (both table games and slots), generous bonuses and promos, and irresistible progressive jackpots.
Realtime Gaming offers variants of all the popular casino games, such as blackjack, craps, and roulette. But it also has a solid reputation for developing unique slots. You can check out at top-rated casinos like Slots.lv. Player favorites include Caesar’s Empire, Aztec Treasure, and Cleopatra’s Gold.
Realtime Gaming remains one of the most trusted names in online gambling software. It’s the developer that big gaming companies like Bovada Casino rely on.
#3 – Playtech
If there’s a “Big Three” in the online casino space, Playtech would qualify as one of them. This developer debuted after Microgaming and RTG, in 1999. Today, it’s one of the most respected names in the business.
Playtech is responsible for a lot of the high-tech features that other casinos are just now adopting. For example, in addition to offering “live” formats for popular games like baccarat and roulette, it was the first platform to offer a “live dealer” option for mobile.
In short, Playtech has earned a reputation as a trendsetter. It’s no wonder the company is nipping at Microgaming’s and RTG’s heels in terms of market dominance.
Importantly, it’s no slouch in the slots department. In addition to popular slots, such as Stravaganza, Funky Fruit Farm, and Mr. Cash Back, the company signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics. The deal gave it rights to produce exciting slot games based on Marvel’s most popular heroes, including Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and The Incredible Hulk.
Playtech’s software platform is used by a large number of reputable casino portals around the world, including Bet365. Although Bet365 isn’t open to U.S. gamblers, it’s worth mentioning because it’s one of the most trusted names in internet gambling.
#4 – Net Entertainment (NetEnt)
This award-winning casino software developer has been around since 1996. Since its debut, it has made a name for itself in both slots and mobile gaming. For example, in 2011, the company launched its Touch platform, which makes a growing number of slots and table games available through the iOS and Android operating systems.
NetEnt has also made impressive inroads into 3D slots and progressive jackpots. The company produced one of the first 3D slot games, a format that has become increasingly popular with online slot enthusiasts. It also scored major headlines when it paid out one of the biggest progressive jackpots in history. In April 2015, a slots player won $8.7 million on the game Hall of Gods.
Net Entertainment’s stable of games not only include the major table games (blackjack, baccarat, etc.), but also a growing number of trendy, fashionable slots. These include Mega Fortune, Starburst, Jack Hammer, and Cosmic Fortune. Some slots are based on TV and movie-related themes, such as South Park, Aliens, and Scarface.
Engaging video slots and live table games round out NetEnt’s offerings, making it one of the most popular and widely-used casino software developers.
#5 – Rival Gaming
Rival is one of the newer kids on the block. It hit the online casino space in 2006, and wasted no time in making a name for itself. One of the company’s claims to fame is that it invented I-Slots. These slot games are more interactive than others. They contain bonus rounds that are like mini games within the broader game. They also offer video segments that introduce storylines as well as some that are unlocked when players accomplish certain feats.
Rival Gaming has also earned a reputation for creating table games with state-of-the-art graphics and realistic sound. Both aspects greatly enhance the gaming experience. It’s one of the reasons top names in online casino gambling, such as Bovada, rely heavily on its software.
Another aspect in which Rival stands out from the pack is with its bonuses. The company makes casino Welcome bonuses available in different structures, giving the casino portals latitude in deciding how to offer them. At select casinos, Rival even offers no-deposit bonuses.
Rival Gaming has also taken the bull by the horns with regard to security. Recognizing the need for top-notch security for its customers, the company developed its IdentiPrint program. This software ensures that players’ money and gaming activity are safe and secure.
At the same time, its RivalPro software gives gambling portals the ability to track players’ transactions and gaming activity. Doing so allows the portals to adjust their offerings to meet the changing needs of their customers.
#6 – BetSoft
This company is one of the smaller fish in the online gambling pond. That’s largely by design. It doesn’t try to be the biggest brand with the most games in its stable. Instead, BetSoft focuses on developing quality, cutting-edge games that leave an indelible impression.
If you’ve ever played a 3D slot game, and marveled at the high-quality graphics and audio, there’s a fair chance it was created by BetSoft.
If you’ve ever played blackjack, roulette, or craps on your phone, and been completely awed by the experience, you may have BetSoft to thank for it.
Casinos like Bovada and Slots.lv use this developer’s software platform because it’s known to offer one of the most engaging gaming experiences available.
The company debuted in 1999. While it has always focused on producing games that enhance the player’s experience, it really took the online gambling space by storm in 2012. That year, BetSoft dove in head first into developing mobile casino games. Today, you can play these games on any device, regardless of operating system.
BetSoft doesn’t match Microgaming, RTG, and NetEnt in terms of size and sheer market dominance. It doesn’t want to. Instead, it’s a boutique developer that many of the largest casino portals rely on.
#7 – IGT
Formally known as Interactive Gaming Technology, this gambling software company made its bones in slots. In fact, it’s the largest online slot game developer in the world. Ever heard of the Wheel of Fortune series of slots? They’re arguably among the most popular slots ever created.
They were developed by IGT.
You’ve no doubt heard of other popular slots created by this company. They include Jeopardy, Cleopatra, Monopoly Plus, Dungeons & Dragons, Pharaoh’s Fortune, World Cup Slots, and Treasures of the Pyramids.
IGT has been in the gaming business for more than 30 years. Over that time, it has earned a reputation for transparency and fairness, making it a favorite among casino gamblers. In addition to a long list of table games, its stable includes well over 100 slots that are hosted by more than 150 online casinos around the world. These casinos include big names like Bet365, Ladbrokes, and Virgin Games.
The bad news is that IGT games are not available in the U.S. (That’s thanks to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) (pdf warning) of 2006).
Other Noteworthy Online Casino Software Developers
There are, of course, many other companies that develop software for casino portals. Several of them are quite good. Following are a few examples:
SG Interactive – This company is the name behind Rainbow Riches, one of the most popular slots brands in online gaming.
Cryptologic – Established in 1995, this company is known for its huge variety of games (currently numbering over 300), many of which are in 3D format.
Aristocrat – This is the biggest online slot game developer in Australia. Because it powers casino portals around the world (not in the U.S., unfortunately), it’s reputed to host massive progressive jackpots.
Play’n GO – They’ve been around since 2004 and have produced more than 80 high-quality table games and slots. It was one of the first developers to dive into the mobile gaming market.
Novomatic – This company, established in 1980, originally focused on land-based slots. It switched gears in 2010, spinning off a division devoted to developing their online counterparts. Today, Novomatic powers popular draws like Gaminator, Lucky Lady’s Charm, and the Book of Ra series of slots.
Here’s the bottom line: the quality of the casino software dictates the gaming experience. As you’d expect, the “best in class” online casinos use software that consistently delivers the most engaging experience possible to their customers.
Keep that in mind when you decide where to play your favorite casino games.