A Future Scenario For The Casino Software IndustryBy: Mark Freedman, Thursday May 14th 2009
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The passing of the UIGEA in 2006 in the United States led to an exodus in the online gaming industry. Those leaving included online gaming operators like Party Gaming and 888.com. The financial services provider Neteller also closed its doors to the American market. Online gaming software providers like Cryptologic and Playtech too shut down their American operations when the UIGEA was passed. The biggest blow perhaps was when Microgaming was forced to leave in 2008 following the domain name seizure case in Kentucky.
Though some players continue to service the American online gaming market, the size of the market has shrunk considerably. Before the passing of the UIGEA the American online gambling market contributed a major share to the worldwide market. The problems in the United States have resulted in a reduction of resources being fed into the online gaming industry. The development that one saw in the years just before the UIGEA was passed no longer exists. However, things may change for the better. As outlined in the article "Barney Frank Introduces Anti UIGEA Bill" a bill has been introduced that seeks to overturn the UIGEA. If that happens then online gambling in the United States will be legalized and regulated. This will lead to the kind of mergers and acquisitions never seen before in the industry.
Online gaming software drives the industry. The first targets will be the privately held online gaming software companies. Wizard Gaming and Microgaming are names that readily come to mind. Wizard Gaming is less than one year old and has less than 25 online games on offer. But the games are of high quality. Therefore Wizard Gaming is likely to be a prime target for acquisitions. Microgaming can be a more difficult proposition. Despite being privately held it is the leader in the online gaming software industry. It has over 400 games in its portfolio and has licensed many more brands than other software providers. Microgaming is a leader in quality as well and regularly introduces innovative products. It is difficult to assess the kind of price Microgaming would demand. The possible buyers could be the publicly held online gaming software providers like Cryptologic or Playtech who have the potential to raise funds in the capital market. Or the buyers could be the large gaming operators who can garner a huge market share of the online gaming industry by having the Microgaming brands under their umbrella.
Another development that will be imminent if the online gambling industry is legalized in the United States is the entry of land based slot machine developers into the online arena. Companies like WMS Gaming, International Game Technology and Bally are big names in the land based slot machines industry. Their machines can be found in all major land casinos, malls, slots kiosks and wherever there are slots machines. Despite the development in online slots in the recent years, land based machines from these manufacturers retain an edge. The only reason that these players have not entered the online gambling industry so far is that the market has not been big enough. Once online gambling is legalized in the United States the repressed market will zoom. Then these companies can use their resources and experience to produce some amazing online games that will change the face of online gaming. In fact they will stand to generate tremendous business by simply converting their patented and much sought after offline games to online versions.
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