Online casino software



• Microgaming
• Cryptologic
• Real Time Gaming
• Playtech
• Boss Media
• Net Entertainment
• Wagerworks
• Chartwell


Microgaming


One of the oldest and biggest providers, Microgaming have a generally very responsible, hands-on approach to their licensees. There isn't a single player issue for which Microgaming has not revoked the offending casino's license and paid the players themselves as the last resort, apart from the unfortunate Golden Palace incident back in 1999, and whose ultimate provider / casino parting of the ways is still somewhat shrouded in mystery.

The software is high quality, fast and carries a large selection of games, with an emphasis on slots - there must be at least a hundred. The emphasis is definitely high-tech bells and whistles. Sadly, the emphasis is NOT quality player-return games with low house edges. Apart from those few casino still carrying the single deck blackjack game in the download software, the best game is Vegas Strip blackjack, with a 0.36% house edge. As the biggest provider, it's unfortunate that, at least from this perspective, their games are very much also-rans. The package is also incredibly heavy, with each casino, fully downloaded, occupying up to 150 megabytes of your hard disc, and since the casino auto-downloads in the background you have no choice over the games you receive - it's all or nothing. 

Deposits, withdrawals and full wager history can be comprehensively tracked using the "Cashcheck" and "Playcheck" facilities, which can be accessed from either the website or within the software. The licensees use various cash processing companies, and payment speeds are usually between 24 to 48 hours or so in general. Microgaming "payout verification" is done through the international auditors  PriceWaterhouseCooper, although since no details of the nature of the verification have ever been revealed to the public I consider the verification claim of little relevance.

Quibbles about the games, software size and auditing aside, Microgaming has been running for many years now with a clean slate, Golden Palace aside. This is no mean achievement for which they deserve full credit.

Cryptologic


Tornoto-based Cryptologic has been in business since 1995 and is listed on the Canadian and UK stock markets. Of their relatively few licensees, Intercasino was the first in 1996, and is still one of the best - and in my opinion THE best - of any online casino out there. There have been few player payment issues with Cryptologic, and those that have occurred have always been resolved.

The software is medium-paced, and since you choose which games you want to download and are not "force-fed" the entire package it's also nice and light, no more than about 20 megabytes. The game selection is good, and there are quality low house edge games available. Table games are available in both "single player" and "multi player" format.

Wager history can be checked using the "log viewer" from within the software, and the last session is available for viewing for up to a month. It also has a convenient "copy to clipboard" facility, so the information is very easy to save, if required.

All licensees use financial processor Ecash Direct for the money transactions, and payments are generally made within a day or two. All told, in my opinion the best software provider out there.

Real Time Gaming


RTG have been beset with problematic licensees from the start - their name is synonymous with headaches and heartaches for a great many people, players, portal owners and industry-observers alike. A lot of the blame can be apportioned to RTG themselves with their seemingly free-and-easy approach to licensing out the software to inappropriate clients, those without sufficient financial backing or the necessary knowledge and experience to operate successfully in the online casino business. In the early years, rarely a day went by without a problem with an RTG casino being reported to the online gambling community via one of the portal forums, ranging from physical closure of the casino without warning leaving a stack of creditors, to the frequent bonus-related problems, usually caused by over-generous promotion campaigns that cause the casino to panic retrospectively at the prospect of paying out too much, resulting in players being held to rules and regulations that were not in place when they signed up for the promotion in question. It would be impossible to list here even the major issues that we've seen over the years, several of which have been protracted and bloody.

RTG's past and, to a degree, continuing problems aside, there is currently a move to the good under way. RTG set up a "complaints procedure" web page some years ago which was originally a source of hilarity for all concerned - they didn't actually DO anything. However, in recent times it's been revamped, become generally rather more proactive, complaints have actually been settled and the enterprise is starting to gain some credibility. They have a long way to go. There are still many bad RTG licensees. There are also quite a few good ones, however, some of which rarely have problems of any kind. In short: things are slowly looking up in RTG land.

The software itself is lithe, light and whippy, weighing as little as five or six megabytes, and again you can chose the games you want to download without any "force-feeding"; like Cryptologic, there are some quality games, both blackjack-variant and video poker. A unique characteristic of RTG is that the individual casinos have some control over certain aspects of the software: they can set the number of decks in the blackjack games from one to eight (none of them offer single deck), they can adjust the paytables on the video poker machines (a luxury some licensees have been known to abuse) and they can set the "percentage payout" on the slots. This has sometimes led to player speculation that that licensees have control over the actual functioning (or malfunctioning) of the casino's Random Number Generator. This is unlikely, and at best speculation - I've played an awful lot of RTG table and video poker games and I'm perfectly happy with the overall results. 

Playtech


Playtech have the distinction of having "received" quite a number of clients from other software platforms. Golden Palace, having left Microgaming in 2000, found their way to Playtech in 2003. The Main Street casino group, once possibly the biggest RTG group, joined them in 2004. The Sunny group, also initially Microgaming clients, went to Playtech in 2002, as did another RTG, GrandBanks. This shouldn't be considered an endorsement, simply an observation. Playtech is a private company which did not respond positively to attempts on the part of one high-profile webmaster in 2004 to establish details of their license, and they do not have anything like the accountability to the gambling public that the three providers already mentioned have. In short, they're something of a closely guarded secret and I would not patronize the majority of Playtech licensees with the same impunity that I do with most Microgaming, Cryptologic or even RTG casinos. 

Playtech software is some of the best looking there is and there is a wide game-selection, all of which play quite fast once the download is complete. Again, you are "force-fed" the entire package - you cannot choose which games to download and leave the rest. This makes the software, like Microgaming, a little heavy, though not as much so - the full package seems to weigh about 40 megabytes.

Boss Media


The last of the main providers, Boss Media has also been in business several years now. One notable blot on their copybook was the attempted misappropriation of a $100,000's worth of progressive jackpots - see the Winneronline Missing Jackpots At Boss Media thread for details of this incident. The software is nice and light, but the game selection is poor and the play ranges from slow to positively tortoise-like. They do however offer a single deck blackjack game with a player return over 100%. I used to have my doubts about this game, but I tested it quite extensively in April 2006 and did not find any evidence of an unfair deal.

Net Entertainment


Net Entertainment is the online gambling arm of the long-established Swedish gambling corporation Cherry, which supplies gambling equipment to restauarnts and ships in addition to its internet business. The software is non-download java based with a decent selection of medium-paced games. One of the most startling, and commendable, things about Cherry / Net Entertainment is that I do not believe there has ever been a player complaint lodged against them - they are absolutely trouble-free in this department, which makes them practically unique! In mid 2005, their software was submitted to the independent Canadadian certfication body Technical Systems Testing (TST), and although I don't put much store in these certifications myself, I have to say it's my opinion that the software is entirely fair. All round, an excellent little software provider.

WagerWorks


Initially a subsidiary of slot machine manufactorer Silicon Gaming, WagerWorks supplies non-download software to a handful of large and reputable UK-based corporations, such as BSkyB and Virgin, and they also only operate casinos within genuinely regulated jurisdictions. The software, which, like NetEntertainment's, has been tested by TST, is nicely designed and plays fast at best - though in my experience it can grind to a standstill on occasions. The individual licensees can customize the video poker paytables, and they vary between casinos.

WagerWorks had the distiction of being the software of choice of MGMMirage, when they ran their short-lived online casino in 2003.

Chartwell


Canadian based and established in 1998, Chartwell supplies java software to some big clients, notably Victor Chandlerand Coral. The software is easy to navigate around, but generally very slow and can be buggy, although it seems to have improved marginally in recent times (early 2006). 


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