As the range of online casino options available to gamblers has exploded over the last five years, a small group of cutting-edge software providers has emerged who provide much of the underlying technology. Individual casinos tend to go with one particular provider to power their range of games and then add their own marketing and branding on top to distinguish their offerings from the competition.
In this article, we’ll cover one of the leading providers out there –NetEnt. Whether you recognise the name or not, you’ve almost certainly already played in NetEnt online casinos at some point in your gambling career – their award-winning casino software is the secret sauce behind many of the top names in the industry. Let’s start with some background on the company.
NetEnt’s roots stretch all the way back to the 1970s when sweeping changes to slot machine regulation in Sweden led to an enforced reorganisation of a company called Cherry which was, at that time, the leading offline casino operator in Scandinavia. As the company continued to restructure and diversify through the eighties and nineties, they became increasingly interested in grabbing a slice of the then-nascent online casino market.
Along with Kinnevik (a leading European investment outfit), Cherry were persuaded by NetEnt founder Pontus Lindwall to invest in his newly founded company in 1996. The company is still listed on Nasdaq OMX Stockholm in Sweden but is a truly global operator these days with operations in Malta, Ukraine, Gibraltar, Sweden and New Jersey. They have over 500 employees spread across Europe working on market-leading solutions such as their CasinoModule suite of software that provides a package of over 200 games with full back-office functionality.
Though it’s long established as one of the leading online casino software providers, NetEnt is still experiencing explosive growth. 2015 saw the announcement of large deals with established casino giants such as Golden Nugget in New Jersey and Caesars Interactive Entertainment and operating profits are showing an incredibly impressive 50% increase quarterly.
NetEnt have acquired a solid reputation within the industry thanks to their relentless focus on software quality over the years and have regularly won leading industry rewards for their efforts. In 2014 alone, they were recognised at the prestigious EGR B2B Awards as:
- Mobile Supplier of the Year.
- RNG Supplier of the Year.
- Slot Provider of the Year.
- Live Casino Supplier of the Year (Highly Commended).
The heart of NetEnt’s technology stack is a system called Better Gaming which is the culmination of over 15 years of experience in designing casino software. Better Gaming’s focus is on delivering the best in terms of gameplay to users in terms of graphics and sound, along with a focus on solid technical underpinnings in the form of independently audited Random Number Generators.
All NetEnt titles have been tested and certified by iTech Labs to ensure they match requirements for individual gambling jurisdictions and provide a fair shake of the dice to users. Tests run here include scaling tests for slog, roulette and scratch card games along with shuffling tests for single-deck, 4-deck, 6-deck and 8-deck card games. From a gambler’s point of view, the upshot is that you’re pretty much guaranteed both an enjoyable gaming experience and a completely safe and fair gambling environment.
NetEnt’s speed, excellent gameplay and reliability have led to it gaining significant market share in the online casino space – in Europe alone, the company was reported to be powering roughly 31% of the online casino market in 2013.
Worldwide, NetEnt games are available in over 90 online casinos and experienced gamblers will recognise some of the biggest names online among their customers. Giants such as Mr. Green, NordicBet, sportingbet, and betsson all use NetEnt software to keep their customers engaged and entertained.
Though the presence of NetEnt games is practically a guarantee of quality in itself, you’ll still want to exercise the same degree of caution you would when signing up with any other online casino. Make sure the casino has a solid online reputation and, ideally, a verifiable offline presence. You’ll also want to make sure that account funding and withdrawal options are crystal clear without unnecessary fees and that support options are present and easily accessible.
NetEnt online casinos generally offer a complete range of standard table and casino games but there are certain areas that they’re particularly well known for. Let’s step through the main highlights:
- NetEnt slots: Whether offline or online, slots are a firm favourite with many casino visitors and it’s not hard to see why – their combination of low-stakes fun, gripping gameplay and the possibility of outsize returns is a very appealing one. NetEnt have supplied a regular stream of classic slots games over the years such as Big Bang, Arabian Nights, Alien Robots and a host of others. The pace of development never slacks either and you can expect to see regular additions to the roster of slots titles available at any NetEnt casino.
- Live casino games: The speed and availability of modern broadband has led to an intriguing and highly popular option in today’s online casino offerings – live casino games. It’s an excellent option to take advantage of and gives you a real flavour of the excitement of the live casino environment, particularly in games such as blackjack where you are pitted directly against the house. You can expect to see options for live casino games in roulette, blackjack and poker at many NetEnt casinos.
- NetEnt mobile games: The rise of mobile devices over the last five to eight years has been nigh-on unstoppable and their use has now outstripped desktop in the wider market. NetEnt have been providing mobile-friendly games since 2011 and, whether you’re on iOS or Android, the vast majority of their titles are now optimised for mobile. You’ll be able to enjoy games such as Jack Hammer 2, Mythic Maiden, Lights, and Big Bang on even the smallest of devices.
As with all online casinos, you’ll find an attractive range of bonuses on offer at NetEnt online casinos. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main types of bonus you’ll come across:
- Welcome bonuses: Welcome bonuses are a one-shot deal that you’ll be able to take advantage of upon signing up with an online casino. They’re simply a gift from the casino to attract you in the door and, possibly, give you an initial stake to gamble with. These are generally attached to deposits although you’ll occasionally see offers available simply for registering.
- Deposit bonuses: Deposit bonuses are on offer every time you lodge money to your account and are generally expressed in terms of percentages of the amount you’re putting into your account. Be aware that there will usually be stringent terms and conditions attached to these deposits and you may be required to gamble a certain amount of money in order to be able to redeem these.
- Free spins: Free spins are simply a type of bonus limited to free spins on either slot machines or roulette games. You’ll see these broken out by various categories such as free spins for new players, promotional free spins, and free spins in return for specific deposit amounts. As with all types of casino bonuses, be sure to check the small print on these offers.
Because NetEnt provide solutions across a network of online casinos, they’re in an excellent position to offer truly impressive jackpot offers and have been responsible for some of the industry’s biggest payoffs over the years. You’ll find local jackpots available in most NetEnt casinos but the big money is most definitely in the networked offerings.
There are four main pooled jackpots on offer: Mega Fortune, Mega Fortune Dreams, Arabian Nights and Hall of Gods. Each one of these has jackpot pools on offer that can quickly rise into the millions. The underlying principle is that a small percentage of each gambler’s individual wager in a slot machine is kicked into one huge overall jackpot. As an example of the sort of numbers these can climb to, a Mega Fortune jackpot with a value of €11.7 million was hit by one lucky 20-year old from Finland. Just two years later, NetEnt paid out a whopping €17.8 million to another lucky Scandinavian winner.
Though they are an industry giant, NetEnt are far from the online casino software providers making a killing online. Here are two of the other major players you’ll come across online:
- Microgaming: Based in the Isle of Man, Microgaming have been going strong since 1994 and provide software solutions to some of the biggest names in the industry such as the Fortune Lounge Group, Palace Group and 32Red. They’re particularly well-known for their poker offerings including innovative features such as games-within-a-game such as Blazing Cannon.
- Playtech: Playtech is a giant of the casino software world with a listing on the London Stock Exchange and a place on the FTSE 250 Index. It has a good claim to be the largest gambling software provider on the planet. You’ll find Playtech software powering things under the hood in online casinos all across the world and the company is particularly well-known for their poker platform iPoker.
- Realtime Gaming: Realtime Gaming is a popular software provider based in the Dutch Antilles. They also offer progressive jackpots but the pot size and win rate has historically not been as large as those offered by other providers. Realtime Gaming also offer a comprehensive range of slot and video games.
The success of online software providers such as NetEnt is a huge benefit for players. Their role in providing the software that powers most online casinos means that players can enjoy professionally designed games that offer the highest standards of security, gameplay and reliability. When you find a NetEnt casino it’s an excellent sign that you’ll be dealing with a solid list of games and regularly updated offerings. You should also be able to take advantage of a standard range of funding options such as PayPal and credit cards. We wish you luck out there on the tables!
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