Microgaming was the first online gambling software development company. Although their early history is now questioned by skeptical writers, everyone agrees that Microgaming was launched before its competitors. And because of the company's nearly 1000 online games, combined progressive jackpot payouts in excess of $300 million, and extensive history in supporting and promoting ethical online gambling, the details of who did what in the 1990s are not very controversial.
Although they claim to have had their own online casino as early as 1994, Microgaming's first publicly acknowledged client was a South African online casino that eventually became The Gaming Club. By 2003 Microgaming was acknowledged as the world's leading provider of online gambling software with a roster of hundreds of clients. The company has championed honesty and integrity in the online gambling industry, paid hundreds of millions of dollars in prizes through its various casino partners, and helped to launch a software engineering revolution that powers a $40 billion worldwide industry.
HHere are 8 reasons why Microgaming is important to the online gaming industry.
After Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processing Act in 1994, Microgaming was founded to create software for the online gaming industry. The company's software was first used by The Gaming Club Website was soon licensed by other online casinos. Every game transaction from a hand of blackjack to a spin of virtual slot machine reels was logged and recorded by the software. The software also tracked daily, weekly, and monthly profits and losses by casino and game as well as ranking players in terms of wins and losses.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Once someone proved that online casino software could be successfully deployed there was no stopping the growth of the online gambling industry.
The IGC is a non-profit industry advocacy group that establishes guidelines for online gaming companies, promotes responsible gambling, and teaches players and corporations alike how to participate in the online gambling economy. The IGC was founded in the United States in 1996 but was subsequently moved to Canada, where it was incorporated.
Standards bodies are important to industries with both high growth potential and a clear vulnerability to fraud. Gambling's history is peppered with crime and manipulation, which remain problems to this day. Microgaming was one of the companies that recognized the need to get ahead of unscrupulous operators and players to start developing standards to benefit everyone involved with online gambling.
The first online progressive slot game, Cash Splash was a 3-reel, single pay line virtual slot game. The seed for the jackpot was modest, about $5000, but the jackpot pool was shared by all the casinos offering the Cash Splash game. A 5-reel, 15 pay line version of the game was subsequently released, but it shared the progressive jackpot with the older version.
Progressive jackpots proved to be immensely popular with slot players around the world. Creating a progressive jackpot system on the Internet especially in the days when everyone was using dialup connections called for ingenuity and engineering perseverance. But once Microgaming proved this could be done, the progressive jackpot experience became unstoppable in the online gambling world.
A full-service auditing system for players and casinos alike, Microgaming's PlayCheck service provided monthly statements recapping all player activity. Players had the ability to review every transaction in their games for the previous 48 hours whenever they viewed their statements. PlayCheck introduced a third-party auditing system to online gambling that empowered players by showing them the same data casinos were using.
How much do players really look at their spins and plays? A serious card player may want to analyze his decisions but a problem gambler should be able to look at his expenditures and realize he is spending too much money on entertainment. Microgaming has been a strong advocate for responsible gambling because the industry needs customers who are not in financial distress and because it's the right thing to do.
Several online gambling development companies are now based on the Isle of Man. Together they contribute about 13% of the island nation's economy, the majority of which come from Microgaming. Former Microgaming employees have founded new companies that have brought innovation to online gambling.
Maybe they saw the writing on the law because the US government has never been very supportive of online gambling. But the move to the Isle of Man makes sense for other reasons. The island nation has low taxes, is independent of the European Union, and yet still enjoys the protection and privileges of being part of the British economy. The Isle of Man has proven to be a successful business hub and incubator.
eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance is the first international testing and standards organization for the online gaming industry. The company is organized under UK law but has been approved by gaming authorities around the world. eCOGRA certification is required to ensure that players are protected from fraud.
Accusations of fraud and connections to organized crime have plagued the online gambling industry since its inception. eCOGRA provides a valuable service to reputable, licensed casinos that operate by the rules of their gaming authorities and to players who need to know they are playing games that can be trusted. The common sense notion that online casinos don't need to rig games that, by design, already favor them provides insufficient assurance. An independent testing and auditing service creates an environment of trust and helps companies establish good reputations.
Named Cashapillar, the game represented a major step forward from the previous benchmark of 50 pay lines per game. Cashapillar also introduced 5 rows of symbols in the playing area, creating a 5x5 slot experience unprecedented in online play.
It's a bit like Moore's Law, in that every advance in slot game design seems like the technology has been pushed to its limits. And yet within 1-2 years a new breakthrough is achieved. The evolution from 3-reel, single pay line slot games has been quick and intriguing thanks to the innovations that companies like Microgaming have brought about. Of course, not all of Microgaming's efforts have been successful. Their painful first foray into 3d slots, where casinos were expected to mail 3D glasses to players, was a dismal failure.
Taking a cue from interactive adventure and strategy games, the Quickfire platform gave casino operators the ability to create achievement badges and trophies. The system includes rankings and leadership tools. Achievments is an example of the kind of experimental innovation Microgaming brings to the industry.
After twenty years the granddaddy of the online gambling software industry proved it could still innovate. Gambling game design is becoming more competitive every year not only because there are more than 2,000 licensed online casinos but also because land-based casinos and game developers are stepping up their games to protect their revenues against the massive online gaming industry.
There is no doubt that online gambling is here to stay, but it will have to continue to adapt to new technologies and new audience tastes because everything that happens on the Internet is connected in some way to every new innovation that emerges, even if only by negative comparison.