Posted 1/27/11 : Times may be tough, but the industry remains positive
The major online gambling industry show of the year, ICEi, is currently pulling in the crowds with a mix of optimism and dynamic, high technology innovation that belies the tough global economic conditions of the past two years.
The 2011 edition of the show at Earl’s Court in London has attracted an impressive turnout of land and online gambling exhibitors, with 409 companies filling 20 000 square metres of exhibition space with the latest in technology and products.
Remarkably, those companies hail from 55 different nations – more than double the 26 countries represented just a few months ago at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
72 percent of exhibitors this year originate from outside Britain…and the men and women who have traveled to London to see and hear about the latest developments in the industry come from far and wide….and in their thousands, judging by the large crowds on the first two days of the event.
The online sector has been especially successful, according to company representatives with whom we spoke, although the absence this year of Cryptologic was disappointing.
Perennial show veteran Microgaming was again a major presence with a stand which showcased the Isle of Man-based company’s wide involvement in virtually every aspect of the business, from mobile technology in association with Spin3 to the latest live dealer technology, the latter a particular crowd-puller this year.
MGS launched its new live dealer game, Multi-Player Roulette, which offers action for up to seven players at once on a table and includes a "table action” feature that allows each player to see where other players are placing their bets. Players are identified on the table by seven sets of coloured chips and are able to select their preferred colour if it is available.
Multi-player roulette is the fifth game variant through Microgaming's live dealer product joining Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and Multi-Player Baccarat.
On the more conventional RNG gaming side, the company also announced the launch of four new bingo side games comprising a multi-player roulette and three slots, including relatively new offerings like Hot Ink, and more established slots like Spring Break and Avalon.
The MGS stand additionally featured its full-on 3D slot based on Sterling Silver, achieving remarkably high levels of depth and realism, and attracting continuous attention from show-goers.
Microgaming associate Spiral Solutions had some headline-grabbing news with its announcement that it has signed a deal to launch its first b2b client in the Italian market.
Nexigames Ltd., a Malta licence holder, and an e-gaming company operating the brands Wild Jack and Wild Jack Mobile Casino, will be the first client to use Spiral Solutions' services to offer online and mobile games in Italy through its new Gioca Casino brand.
Spiral will support Nexigames with a suite of e-gaming services from acquisition through to retention and support, also providing a consulting package that includes regulatory guidance, business plan modelling, financial and risk management.
Gioca Casino will be the Italian brand operating on Nexigames' licence from regulator AAMS, which it expects to successfully secure once the casino application process opens. The two companies plan to work together to provide a b2b solution for the Italian market – making this available to branded partners across online and mobile.
Research and Markets estimates that the remote gaming market in Italy was worth more than Euro 4 billion in 201.
Spiral’s mobile technology company Spin3 has used ICEi to unveil its new Italian mobile casino with Neomobile Gaming, a division of Neomobile Group.
Neomobile is applying for an AAMS licence for online and mobile with support from Spin3.
Matti Zinder, head of Spin3, said, "Italy is starting to fulfill its potential as a leading e-gaming market. Its progressive regulation makes it an example to the rest of the world.”
Viaden Gaming, a Ukrainian online gambling software developer which earlier this (January) month acquired a licence and set up on the Isle of Man, had a significant presence at the show and displayed its new fully HD and 3D white label casino app., a product that took four years to develop but one which has already recorded 1.6 million downloads from the iStore.
The app includes ten games, all casino faves and one featuring the infamous Russian spy ‘Anna Chapman’.
Another impressive new product comes from Sweden’s Jadestone Network, which used ICEi to promote its Casino Matrix product, an online gaming system in a web application that uses a grid of up to four windows to allow players to load and play up to four casino games simultaneously through an intuitive user-interface.
Developed in cooperation with technology provider Play’n Go, Casino Matrix comes with over 30 casino games, and can be paired it with most applications, including external content such as YouTube or Facebook.
The offering is being hailed as ‘the ultimate cross-marketing tool’ by Jadestone.
Jadestone product head Tom Wood, said: “By giving access to several games at once, operators give players the luxury of choosing their combination of games or external content all from within the walls of the operator’s site. This means players won't have to navigate multiple lobbies or leave the comfort of the gaming site to see their favourite YouTube video or read the latest from their Facebook friends.
“Exit the monolithic old-school online casino and enter a world where players can place a live bet, watch a live feed of a game and play two video slots all at the same time.”
Jadestone was also in the news this week with its minigame partnership with Ongame.
Continent8, the veteran industry online gambling services supplier and associate of Mohawk Information Technologies celebrated this week with its ICEi presence enhanced by news that it had been awarded ‘Technology Supplier of the Year’ Monday at the International Gaming Awards.
The company prevailed against some impressive competition that included Playtech, 3M and Iovation.
Continent8 has serviced most of the online gambling industry since it was formed several years ago, and provides hosting and management professional services from offices in the UK, Isle of Man, Singapore, France, Malta and Kahnawake in Canada.
Among its latest offerings is a DDoS mitigation service which went live just before Christmas last year.
Betsoft, a Cyprus-based games provider showcased its recently released Mr Vegas and Two Million Years BC 3D offerings and announced its intention to release at least two games a month going forward.
The company’s latest game, the progressive slot Legends of Avalon, features an Arthurian theme and includes a progressive jackpot, multipliers, and up to 15 free spins – triggered by the Lady of the Lake symbol, an extra Wild symbolised by the mythical sword Excalibur in the free spins feature, with Avalon the wild with five wild symbols winning the jackpot.
The IGT stand can only be described as mind-boggling, featuring a stunning collection of land and online slots, presented and demonstrated using the latest visual and audio technology and with the emphasis heavily on the new internet slot Star Trek. Staff members dressed up as crew members on the starship Enterprise were backed by massive backdrops and demo games on consoles.
The company’s interactive division is comprised of Wagerworks and Million-2-1, and has a reputation for delivering quality, cross-platform games.
IGT and MGM have collaborated to develop an iPhone slot game based on the popular Cleopatra slot. The game is offered on a non-wager basis to all MGM Resorts M Life Player Club members via iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with the purpose of providing guests with a new form of mobile gaming and entertainment.
Also released this week is a surfing-themed game titled Wipeout – a five-reel, 10 pay-line slot featuring a new style of Free Spins. The bonus is activated when three, four or five Free Spins bonus symbols are in view anywhere on the reels. Players start the bonus feature with three lives and can win them back with the Extra Life symbol if they are lost. The free spins continue until all lives have gone with additional prizes awarded for surviving 25 and then 50 spins.
Perhaps hopefully giving online punters a taste of good things to come, IGT’s land slots being massively demo’d on large video flat screens included American Idol, Sex and the City, Dirty Dancing, The Dark Knight and….Star Trek.
Rival, a software company increasingly becoming known for white label casino deals, unveiled its latest 3D i-slot, Shangri-La, adding it to a gaming suite that numbers over 100.of mainly 2D offerings.
Playtech is enjoying a major presence at ICEi again this year, illustrating the Israeli and Isle of Man company’s involvement in everything from live dealer products to video consoles and RNG internet gambling systems that cover every genre.
The company is fresh off the release of successful Q4/2010 results in which it reported that its involvement with the Finnish operator RAY, launched in November last year, has already attracted 60 000 players. Earlier this week Playtech announced the initial GBP2.5 million acquisition of casino management technology developer IGS.
Players will soon be using Playtech’s very impressive new User Interface which was demonstrated on the company’s stand. This is an easy-to-navigate, player-centric product that is impressively comprehensive and searchable.
Players looking for a game with the best bonuses, or a particular gaming style, or games similar to current favourites….or any one of a wide range of other criteria will find it at their fingertips, along with full game descriptions and visuals in this extensive new interactive company ‘catalogue’ which has been the subject of a major investment by the company.
Look out for new slots with themes from The Mummy and Monty Python’s Spamalot, along with a new version of Ironman.
Perhaps less well known, but just as ambitious, is the Hamburg-based online gambling software provider Edict Gaming…positioned right opposite the rival Playtech stand with an impressive patch of their own.
A member of the Gauselmann Group, the company has a growing gaming suite that includes 12 online slots, 12 table and 6 card games, all of good quality. Edict is going after the white label internet casino business segment with a solid turnkey product.
The list of products showcased by Parspro, an Icelandic company, sounds more like a family of girls than online gambling products, but Cordelia, Toto, Juliet, Elektra and Eitri are very much industry competitors.
Toto is an automated sports book management platform; Juliet a live betting and tournaments offering; Eitri a predictive in-play clienbt for iOS and Android; Cordelia a full service horse and greyhound pari mutual betting solution; and Elektra an iPad management information system.
Mazooma Interactive Games is an unusually titled online games developer that is becoming increasingly familiar following a series of deals with major industry companies like Unibet, Gala Coral and Sky Vegas. The firm has an ICEi presence, showcasing an expanding digital content suite and some new online community gaming ideas.
Buzz Sports, a relatively unknown company from Leeds in England has developed an intriguing new zone-by-zone predictive betting platform targeted on the fun punter with a bankroll of around 25p to GBP10.
The software can handle up to 10 000 bets a second with full record keeping and audit trail capability and can be used on both the Web and mobile.
Well established industry group Openbet is featuring a large-screen software product designed to provide punters in betting shops with a fully integrated picture of all the local action, controlled by the player and providing all the latest information on a variety of sports betting.
The company’s online casino offerings include the recently released package 23, which includes a new roulette game, and the soon-to-be released package 24 which features Casino War and Card Roulette.
The 5 reel, 25 pay-line slot Sherlock Holmes, released recently by GTechG2 is apparently doing very well, with its feature-rich format proving popular with the player community. The company has also released information on a new game branded Plants and Zombies, which was demo’d to admiring slot fans and is another richly illustrated and entertainingly interactive slot.
Rumours at the show are that a new agreement on branded games is to be announced soon, allegedly involving Universal Studios.
Austrian games developer Rabcat showed off its latest 5 reel 20 pay-line 3D slot, titled The Legend of Olympus with a theme from Greek mythology and very high quality graphics. The game joins popular earlier releases like Pirates Bay, Panda Cash and Joker Wanted.
The London-based live dealer provider Evolution Gaming displayed its opulent, elegant, upmarket and ambience-rich new London Roulette product, along with a preview of an exciting new Italian backdrop titled Venezia Club.
Another new product from Evolution is an intriguing blend between RNG and live dealer gaming branded Mermaid’s Fortune, a 5 reel 20 pay-line game in which the mermaid interacts with the players.
Evolution showed off its technical virtuosity with a demonstration of creating environments using blue screen technology.
Perhaps best known for its successful forays into the online bingo sector, Malta-based Cozy Games now has an inventory of over 80 games, half of them available for mobile action on iPhone and Android platforms.
Based in Northern Ireland, the live dealer broadcasting specialist CBN Gaming came to notice this week in a deal with a new Microgaming licensee, Casino Creed.com. The company facilitates live dealer gaming from a diversity of real land casinos, and has worked with several of the industry’s top companies.