Category Archives: News

Betway the official betting partner of 5 German football clubs

The past few months have seen football fever reaching its peak at online and mobile casinos as the Euro Cup 2016 football tournament takes place and a variety of games and promotions have been released to commemorate it.

Now, online sports betting and online casino operator Betway has announced a strategic partnership with five Bundesliga 2 clubs, which means there’s sure to be more football action to come in the months to follow.

The new agreement with the 5 German clubs including Dynamo Dresden, Eintracht Braunschweig, Karlsruher SC, St Pauli and Union Berlin will see Betway as the official betting partner ahead of the new football season starting in August 2016.

Under the deal Betway will receive in-stadium branding at all five clubs for three years as well as hospitality tickets to each game, which, if we know Betway Casino will be given away as prizes in their ongoing casino promotions in the months to come.

Betway’s Anthony Werkman commented that Bundesliga is one of the most avidly followed football leagues in the world and that Betway was pleased to have signed agreements with the five clubs boasting a rich heritage and history in German and European football. Betway adds these clubs to its sponsorship of England’s West Ham United.

And if you can’t get enough football action, you’ll find a variety of Microgaming powered football themed slots including Football Star and Shoot! and be sure to check out our winning slots tips before you play.

Is watching others play Casino Games your idea of fun?

twitch stream
An example of streaming gaming via Twitch stream.
Source: casinotwitcher.com

Online gaming has become such a successful phenomenon over the past few years that it has given birth to a whole new form of entertainment – watching others play games via streaming technology. While this may sound a little crazy to non-gamers, it is a very real trend that is catching on at a rapid rate and leading new technology innovation as it does so.

One only has to look at the PlayStation 4’s streaming function that allows the user to share footage of themselves with other console users as they play. In terms of gambling, online poker was the first casino game to be televised and streamed during the World Series of Poker events which have earned the game a cult fan following of viewers. This has since been followed by eSports and online casino game action.

While gaming was once regarded as anti-social behaviour and gamers were thought of as lonely individuals who sat alone every night playing games, hardly interacting with another soul, online streaming is making it a very social pastime, with many streamers interacting with their viewers via live chat as they play as well as on social media and forums. In fact a recent study has shown that shy individuals are more likely to form friendships through online gaming and social media interaction because these formats eliminate the difficulties some face in social situations.

Twitch is a popular choice of streaming platform for many gamers of all genres and boasts a 60 million strong audience each month. The site allows its users to post videos of their gaming sessions (everything from console to casino games) and allow others to watch as a form of entertainment or to preview or pick up tips on playing a particular game.

Some of the professional poker players and even casino affiliates and operators are publishing polished, informative content with a business angle and are attracting massive followings but many publishers are purely players, sharing their experiences for pure enjoyment and the social benefit.

The added benefit of this form of entertainment is that while it may be creepy to lurk around watching people play casino games in land based casinos, especially when it comes to slot machines, the online streaming of these games means that you can enjoy all of the voyeuristic action you want without the weird factor!

Games like online slots are watched to experience games before playing them and also to check out any massive wins enjoyed by other players while online blackjack and roulette are viewed mostly by those looking to learn tips. The live chat and forums associated with streaming platforms allow players to interact with one another, sharing knowledge and advice as they play.

Of course, there are the critics who call producers of the content out for providing “fake” action where players don’t use their own money or play for free when demoing the latest online slot. There are also those who criticize the gamers lack of emotion or financial and odds credibility as they play. Then again there will always be haters.

Nevertheless, game streaming and viewership is clearly an emerging form of entertainment that looks set to expand and evolve as time progresses.

The end of Free Spins Promotions in the UK?

The UK was one of the first countries in the world to license and regulate online gambling. But that has meant that casino operators have been subject to a great deal of scrutiny and have had to comply with numerous legal obligations.

One of the most recent revisions of the UK’s gambling tax laws is the institution of the Point of Consumption tax for online gambling, and as the lawmakers are tightening the bonds in this area, the use of Free Spins as a promotional and loyalty reward for slots players may be a thing of the past…

This is due to the fact that Chancellor George Osborne stated in his speech earlier this year that from August 2017 online casino and bingo operators would be liable for tax on free play offers. This is being done in order to ensure the same level of compliance in online gambling that sportsbooks and the race betting industries are already subject to when it comes to discounted and/or free wagering under the General Betting Duty. This point was later confirmed in a budget document.

Implementing these changes is set to cost the UK government a considerable £20 million, but it will be money well spent if the projected tax revenue of £110 million in 5 years’ time comes to fruition.

These earnings do however depend on online casino licensees continuing to offer free spin promotions at the current level. This however is highly unlikely given the fact that they are already facing increased pressure to their bottom lines in complying with licensing and tax liabilities in the various markets, overheads which have been added in addition to their annual licensing fees paid to various software providers who power their casino games and platforms and staff costs in recent years.

Mainstream cross-overs in Online Casino Games

Grand Theft Auto V Casino
Will casinos cross into realm of Video Games
with Grand Theft Auto 5’s update?

Slot machines have been around since 1887 and over the years have evolved into the online and mobile slot games that we know and love today. As the evolution continues we see the lines of gaming as slots crossover into the mainstream featuring various movie, comic and video game themes.

In doing so, slots are attracting a whole new generation of gamers from movie fans who enjoy seeing their favourite blockbuster movie titles being licensed for use in online slots to hardcore video gamers looking to experience their favourite characters in a whole new format.

While online slots have incorporated gaming and movie themes for years, we have never seen the opposite in action where casinos have been incorporated into games. That is, until the infamous Grand Theft Auto rumours started just over two years ago.

Tomb Raider Slot
Why wait for the GTA V update?
Play Tomb Raider Secret of the Sword now!

Word around the global water cooler is that the creators of Grand Theft Auto, who are preparing to release the Grand Theft Auto 5 updates in the first half of 2016, will be including a virtual Casino in their Ill Gotten Gains update to the game. Speculation has been rife across the player forums thanks to a banner hanging over the current casino building within the game that reads “Opening Soon“.

Many fans are convinced that the Casino DLC update will offer players the opportunity to put their skills to the test by playing poker, blackjack, and other gambling mini-games within the game on both single and multiplayer versions of GTA V. While GTA developers remain mum on the subject, updates are said to be launched by June, so only time will tell if all the speculation is true and casinos truly do cross into gaming territory after all

In the meantime though, those who are fans of both can still enjoy the various mainstream crossover slots like Hitman and both Tomb Raider themed slots, while comic and movie fans can select from Game of Thrones and a host of Marvel themed slots.

Microgaming earns a Guinness World Record

Jon Heywood - Mega Moolah Jackpot Winner
Jon Heywood with the win that made him
a millionaire and Microgaming a
Guinness World Record Holder

It’s official! The Guinness Book of World Records has added software giant Microgaming to its list of record holders for awarding the world’s largest jackpot payout in an online slot.

This accolade comes after UK player Jon Heywood hit the Mega Moolah Slot Jackpot which stood at a massive £13,213,838.68 (€17,879,645.12) off a simple 25p wager. In Microgaming style, Heywood received the multi-million pound payout in a single lump sum, changing his life forever.

The win took place at Betway Online Casino and once the approval process with proof of the win being submitted by both Betway and Microgaming was complete and ratified by industry watchdog eCogra, Guinness World Record added the software giant to its list of recipients. Of course, Microgaming is sharing the achievement with both Betway Casino and the winner, Jon Heywood.

The win has been confirmed by a Guinness World Record spokesperson and CEO of Microgaming Roger Raatgever commented that not only was the company overjoyed at hearing about Heywood’s win, but also about the fact that the money would go to help Heywood’s father who is in serious need of medical care, requiring an organ transplant.

Now in addition to the heart-warming story, the company has achieved yet another award in its long list of accolades, and receiving a Guinness World Record title is a special and proud moment for Microgaming. Raatgever added that the record cemented the company’s position in providing the largest and most excising progressive jackpot network online, and that the staff at Microgaming couldn’t wait to hand the certificate in their office reception.

Not only is the Guinness World Record acknowledgement a great achievement for Microgaming, it is also a good sign for the online casino industry as a whole, which has come from obscurity and is now being recognised by the world as a legitimate form of entertainment in just two decades.

Skill-based Slots to Change the Face of Gambling

Skill based slots
A look at what’s to come in skills-based slots
Global Gaming Expo Las Vegas

A new generation of slot machines are on the horizon – games that blend elements of skill with chance and promise to give Las Vegas Casinos a boost in the year to come. These new slots will not only be considerably different to the one-armed bandits of yester year, but will also have the potential for different payouts altogether, offering a way for casinos to appeal to an entirely new generation of players, namely the millennials (those currently under 35).

As most people know, slots are a critical factor to online casinos the world over, with the exception of Macau where slots play contributes a mere 5% to Macau casinos revenue, with 95% stemming from table games like Baccarat. In the US however, slots play accounts for more than half of Nevada’s $11.02 billion in casino revenue.

It is anticipated that the new generation of skill-based slots will make their appearance on the floors of Las Vegas casinos as early as the beginning of 2016. This is largely attributed to the fact that Nevada is the first U.S state that is working towards establishing technical standards to ensure that the new skill-based machines are fair and provide accurate payouts. By all accounts, MGM resorts, the biggest Las Vegas casino operator will be the first to offer these games.

With the focus shifting towards skill based games, gaming manufacturers like Scientific Games and Game Technology, currently the two largest slots manufacturers are now including skill based versions of games in their offerings.

How do skill-based slots differ from regular machines?

At present the results after the spinning of the reels on your favourite slot machine are purely dictated by chance. A random number generator with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of outcomes is set in motion and the outcomes are truly random. There may seem to be elements in the game where you can control the outcome – for example when you are asked to pick X of Y in a bonus game, but ultimately you hold no influence over the game and results are always mere chance.

Skill based games on the other hand will require a certain level of skill on the player’s part in order to influence the outcome of the game favourably – this could mean that they are required to answer trivia questions relating to sports, pop culture or even academic pursuits.

Another idea to appeal to the Millennial generation is to offer skill-based slots based on classic video games like Space Invaders, where within the game points are awarded for the number of enemy spaceships destroyed. Themes like this being integrated into slots could open up an entirely new field for video game producers like Electronic Arts and Sony.

In addition, players will also be able to compete against one another individually or in teams rather than gambling as a solitary pursuit. According to Bryan Kelly, Senior Vice President of Scientific Games, the social and strategy based aspect of games are a key feature when appealing to Millennials.

What this does mean is that we’ll see an entirely new, completely different generation of games creeping onto the casino floor, changing the way we gamble forever.

Social, Smartphone Gaming Integration

Game manufacturers also foresee using technology such as smartphones and tablet devices as part of the game integration, allowing people to use their devices during play. Other games will offer built-in devices that allow multi-player tournaments for friends around a single table. Test models of the latter are already found in some Las Vegas casinos.

According to analysts there is a great deal of buzz and excitement surrounding skill based gambling, but it is yet to be seen as to whether this buzz will translate into casino revenue. We’re betting that it will…how about you?

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?

online fantasy sports
Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?” This is a question that is at the center of one of the largest debates regarding the legality of the hobby in the US, but it has also drawn the interest of people across the globe.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will probably have noticed advertisements for daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and Fanduel being flighted during sports events, or the branding somewhere on the internet. What these sites offer is the opportunity for players to participate and compete in daily or week long fantasy sports games. Players pay to participate in these events and win or lose money according to how members of their teams of real life athletes perform during an actual sports game or match.

Whether or not you look at fantasy sports as gambling will depend on your definition of gambling and even the dictionaries vary in that. Google the word “Gamble” and you’ll find it defined as “playing games of chance for money“. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “to play a game in which you can win or lose money“.

As you can see from the above, those definitions are open to interpretation and as such have been causing huge contention between various groups and governments across the world.

In the US, unlike online casinos and sportsbooks which are illegal in most states, fantasy sports games have flown under the radar, mostly because they are technically considered “games of skill” as opposed to “games of chance” and have therefore not been classified as gambling.

This assumption is a little shaky given that casino games like blackjack are also games of skill, but nevertheless have been outlawed as “gambling” by the US government. In fact, the whole US based argument hinges on the language of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) which specifically details games of chance as being illegal.

When this act was drafted, the majority of fantasy sports were friendly leagues and even if money changed hands, they were season-long, low stakes games between friends, not daily or weekly games orchestrated by huge companies that actively accept and pay out cash based on results. In essence, these platforms just provide players with another way to bet on sports as money is risked based on their predictions of a specific outcome.

Of course, daily fantasy sports sites and those who run them insist that they are legal due to the fact that they qualify as games of skill rather than games of chance wherein the player has no influence on the outcome no matter how skilled he/she may be and winning or losing is determined simply by luck.

If you are skilled enough to be able to predict an outcome correctly, then it’s not gambling – or this is the argument currently being debated. How you see it is open to interpretation.

eCOGRA to conduct Vulnerability & Penetration Testing

eCOGRA is an independent online gaming industry authority that has protected player interests, ensuring fair play, player protection and operator transparency and accountability for over a decade. It is a name that players have come to trust, knowing that only reputable casinos bear the eCOGRA “Play it Safe” Seal of Approval.

As the years progress and the online casino industry develops, a variety of complex issues has emerged and with the regulation of online gambling, casino operators are called to comply with more stringent requirements on every level than ever before. As such, eCOGRA has to be able to monitor and conduct compliance testing on various fronts and has recently expanded its portfolio to include third party vulnerability and penetration testing and is now an approved services provider in the UK, Spain and Italy for conducting such auditing.

Third party vulnerability and penetration auditing involves the identification of threats to the integrity, confidentiality and accountability of an online casino’s information systems. eCOGRA will now conduct various assessments in this field, using newly developed specialist resources to evaluate the systems in place at both the casino software provider and operator’s end to ensure that security layers are not breached on either side.

The new offering is headed by Shaun McCallaghan, the business development manager for vulnerability and penetration testing services. According to McCallaghan, his team is comprised of individuals from top auditing firms, those with gambling industry backgrounds including ISO27001 Auditors, members of Ethical Hackers, Vulnerability Assessors and Certified Information Systems Auditors.

According to Andrew Beverage, eCOGRA’s CEO, this type of testing and evaluation is now mandatory for online casino software providers and operators and while they would have to go to third party contractors in the past, this offering now falls under eCOGRA’s service umbrella. This is convenient for eCOGRA registered casinos that currently use the organisation for RNG and RTP auditing, information security audits and alternative dispute resolution.

This is good news for players as it means that not only can they have peace of mind that eCOGRA will assist in any player dispute resolution proceedings should the need arise, but also that the security of sensitive information regarding person and banking details will be intensified and measures to do so will be audited, as will the process of funds transfer when making deposits and withdrawals. Yet another reason to play at eCogra certified online casinos.

Microsoft Bing Predicts and the future of gambling

bing predicts
Bing Predicts produces accurate Predictions
for the 2015 NFL week one playoffs

Technological advancements have meant vast changes in the casino landscape over the past two decades and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest technological beast to affect gambling in Las Vegas.

Microsoft’s AI engine, Bing Predicts, has been making headlines after beating Las Vegas betting odds by correctly predicting the winners of the first week of the NFL season. This however is not the first time that Bing Predicts has been successful, in fact, last year it correctly predicted the results of every game in the World Cup held in Brazil, and this year it accurately predicted almost all of the results of the Academy Awards. It seems that Microsoft’s AI is turning out to be an exceptional tool for making betting recommendations, and the consequences will be felt well beyond the sports betting arena.

So how was an Artificial Intelligence engine able to outwit some of the world’s best sporting minds and turn the world of professional gambling on its head? It’s all in the design. The basic premise of Microsoft’s AI relies on the “Wisdom of the crowd“. This means that not only does the AI engine rely on an algorithm which factors in variables such as player statistics, margins of victory in previous games, stadium and weather conditions etc. but it also considers aggregate sentiments of social media quantified as data to give it an edge over the so called experts.

The latter part of the formula is what seems to be the secret ingredient, and by tapping into the multitudes on Facebook and Twitter, the AI can detect subtle intangible factors that human statisticians usually miss. For example, there may be rumours circulating on social media platforms that a particular football star had a fight with his girlfriend and was later seen out drinking until the early hours of the morning. While this information may be unfounded, there is often a central truth to many rumours and the algorithm factors these types of things in giving it a statistical edge.

According to Walter Sun, head of the Bing Predicts team, in analyzing this type of information and factoring it into their predictions, Microsoft has increased the accuracy of its forecasts by 5%.

5% may seem like a very small margin but as any player knows, if you can beat the odds by 5% every time, this can earn you a fortune in wins, and this could spell trouble for the bookies. It also broaches the question of whether professional sports’ gambling has a future in a world where AI corporations hold the highest hand.

The concern is not just limited to Las Vegas and International sportsbooks, there are a number of industries that are essentially founded on forms of gambling…think the finance industry, insurance industry and stock markets…could an algorithm beat their models and threaten their livelihood? If so, we could be looking at a future dominated by a few major tech corporations who end up competing with each other on who can develop the best algorithm.

Microgaming enjoys a Double Win at the Global Gaming Awards

Global Gaming Awards

Leading Online Casino Software provider Microgaming recently enjoyed its second consecutive win as Digital Product of the Year at the 2015 Global Gaming Awards which were held on the 28th of September in Las Vegas.

This accolade was awarded in recognition of the company’s Jurassic Park online slot release which was launched earlier this year and is available across platforms at all Microgaming powered online casinos.

The Jurassic Park slot is a ground breaking game which makes use of Parallax Scrolling effects – the first of its kind to do so, while also offering top quality graphics featuring dinosaurs and characters from the Jurassic Park movie which are brought to life using 3D-rendering techniques. The game is also packed with features to offer added action and excitement to players, keeping them enthralled for hours on end.

The software giant also beat out 9 other shortlisted adversaries to scoop a second accolade, walking away with the Digital Gaming Innovation Award for its foresight and work in Virtual Reality and Wearable Technology. This award was for the work that Microgaming has done in introducing VR Roulette to the world of online gaming.

The game which makes use of Oculus Rift wearable technology allows the player to be transported into the world of cyber gambling, taking a seat at what seems to be a real roulette table to play this exciting game. The Oculus Rift DK2 headset which has a Leap Motion 3D controller tracks a players hand movements, projecting them into the virtual 3D world. Using this technology, Microgaming is studying the potential of 3D technologies and how they can be incorporated into the online gambling industry to further enhance player entertainment in the virtual sphere.

Not only is VR Roulette an outstanding game, but the company has also used the knowledge gained in producing it to create a number of Augmented and Virtual Reality Apps for a number of devices.

A spokesperson for Microgaming commenting on these awards conveyed the company’s delight at winning two prestigious accolades. He stated that Microgaming has always worked hard to stay ahead of the pack in terms of predicting and acting on emerging trends and technology, adding that anyone who has seen and experienced their work on VR Roulette and slots on smart watches will agree that it offers incredible insight into what we can expect from online gaming in the future.

The Global Gaming Awards are held to commemorate the achievements made in the digital and land based gambling industries and currently award 12 top achievers in a variety of disciplines within the industry. Judging takes place by a panel of 50 industry experts whose votes determine the year’s winners in each category. The results are audited by the likes of auditing giants like KPMG in order to ensure complete transparency throughout the voting process and results calculations.