The online casinos of today are a significant improvement on the early versions that first appeared on the web towards the end of the last century. They have evolved dramatically over a relatively short period of time, and the best casinos now provide a truly excellent online gaming experience.
Most of the improvements we’ve seen at online casinos are due to the software they use, as casino software is much more sophisticated than in the early days. The graphics and animation are certainly way better than they used to be, as are the sound effects and background music.
The software is generally a lot more user friendly too, with improved functionality and additional features.
You don’t really need to know about all the ins and outs of how the software works to enjoy playing at online casinos, but it doesn’t hurt to understand at least the basics.
We’ve covered these below, along with information on the different types of casino software and details of some of the major developers of online casino software.
Casino Software Basics
The most important thing you need know about online casino software is how it ensures that the games are fair. A common concern among people who play online, and those considering doing so, is that the games are “rigged” in the casino’s favor in some way.
This concern is largely unfounded, as casinos already have a fair advantage in the house edge so they’ll always make a profit without having to resort to cheating.
The software at online casinos uses what are known as random number generators (RNGs).
These are computer programs that are constantly producing random strings of numbers, with no discernible pattern, and the software communicates with them to produce outcomes such as which card is dealt next or what symbols appear following a spin on a slot machine.
The outcomes of the games are completely random as a result, and this ensures that the games are perfectly fair. You have as much of winning a hand of blackjack, or any bet you place, in an online casino as you do in a land based venue.
It’s also worth knowing that the majority of online casinos don’t develop their own software, but instead use third party providers.
This is a change from the very early days of the industry, when many operators used their own proprietary software. Some still do, but they are in the minority now.
As a result of this you will find the same games at several different online casinos. A number of the top places to play use software from a selection of developers, ensuring that there is a wide selection of games on offer.
This means players usually have plenty of choice wherever they play, and also that they aren’t necessarily limited to a single casino if they have a favorite game they enjoy playing.
Different Types of Casino Software
Casino software can be broadly divided into three categories – downloadable, instant play, and mobile. Many games are available in all three formats, meaning you can play them from a variety of different devices.
For the most part, the games all work in pretty much the same way regardless of format, but there are a few minor differences.
The downloadable software at most online casinos is only compatible with PCs running the Microsoft Windows operating system. You’ll find this type of software at a number of different places, and once you have downloaded it you will have full access to a wide selection of games. You just have to load it up, log in, and start playing.
Instant Play Software
Instant play software has become increasingly common at online casinos. It enables you to play games directly from your web browser, without having to download anything. This type of software typically uses Adobe Flash, which means it’s compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems. Many instant play games can be accessed from smartphones and tablets.
In addition to the instant games that can be played from a mobile device, a number of online casinos also offer mobile apps that feature a range of games designed (or modified) specifically for mobile devices. You can download these apps to your phone or tablet from the appropriate app store, or direct from the relevant casino’s website.
Major Casino Software Providers
The following are some of the best known, and most widely used, casino software providers. A sizable percentage of all online casinos use software from one of these companies, and many of them use software from two or more of them.
Playtech is one of the most recognizable names in the online casino world. Their software is used by a large number of the top online casinos, and is particularly favored by the big gambling sites in the United Kingdom. They have developed a huge range of games in a variety of different categories, including table games, card games, video poker, and live dealer games.
This company is perhaps best known for its impressive selection of slot games, and in particular its games based on superheroes from Marvel Comics. Playtech also developed, and maintains, the popular online poker network iPoker.
Casinos Using Playtech Software
Popular Playtech Games
Jacks or Better Video Poker
Microgaming was one of the very first companies involved with online gambling. In fact, they claim that they opened the very first online casino back in 1994. This claim is disputed by some, but there can be no dispute that the company is one of best known in the online gambling industry today.
In addition to developing hundreds of casino games in their time, Microgaming also operates an online poker network. They have won a number of prestigious industry awards, and they continue to offer new and exciting games to the casino market.
Casinos Using Microgaming Software
William Hill Vegas
Popular Microgaming Games
The Dark Knight Rises
Break Da Bank Again
Vegas Single Deck Blackjack
Net Entertainment is a Swedish company, often referred to as NetEnt. Established as an online gaming company in 1996, it was set up by one of Scandinavia’s largest land based casino operators. It has grown to become one of the best known suppliers of casino software, winning several industry awards along the way.
NetEnt’s range of games is made up primarily of slots, although they also offer table games and live games. The company is famed for its innovation and unique features, and many NetEnt slot games are real favorites for players. The graphics used in their slots particularly stand out, and are easily among the very best around.
Casinos Using NetEnt Software
Popular NetEnt Games
Double Exposure Blackjack
The Invisible Man
Jack & The Beanstalk
Real Time Gaming
Real Time Gaming (RTG) is one of the biggest software providers for online casinos accepting customers from the United States. It was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998, and subsequently moved operations to Costa Rica.
RTG is best known for its range of slots, including some with progressive jackpots, although they also offer a variety of other games as well. The company provides downloadable games as well as instant play games, and a number of their games are also compatible with mobile devices.
Casinos Using RTG Software
Popular RTG Games
Sevens and Stripes
Let ‘Em Ride
International Gaming Technology
International Gaming Technology (IGT) is a bona fide giant in the gambling world, with a history dating back decades. The company has long been involved in the design and manufacture of gaming machines, including some of the most popular casino games of all time. It is estimated that they produce approximately half of all new slot machines in the United States.
IGT expanded into developing games for online casinos in the late 20th century, helped by its purchase of online gaming technology company WagerWorks. More recently IGT merged with GTECH, an Italian gaming equipment company.
Casinos Using IGT Software
Popular IGT Games
Da Vinci Diamonds
3 Wheel Roulette
Wheel of Fortune Hollywood
For more information on these companies, and others, please see our dedicated section on online casino software providers. We cover all of the major casino software developers, with full details of the range of games they provide and the best places to play them.