The Top Five Online Casino News Items of 2009By: Mark Freedman , Thursday December 31st 2009
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The last day of the year is an appropriate one to go down memory lane and revisit the news that has brought the most cheer to the online casino industry.
At the top of the list it has to be the €6 million hit on the progressive jackpot online slot game Mega Moolah. Mega Moolah from Microgaming was one of the first slots to reset at 1 million. In 2008 it had been hit at 5.5 million. In May 2009 that record was broken by a player at River Belle online casino who recorded a hit of €6,374,599.92. This player was Georgios M, a small business owner from Greece. When interviewed Georgios was still suffering from shock at becoming a millionaire six times over.
Big prizes are what the online casino industry is all about. The Grand Slam of Slots tournament hosted by Microgaming was the first online tournament ever to offer a single top prize of $1 million. This tournament ran for a couple of months on qualifying rounds. The finals were completed on November 2, 2009. A player from London using the alias Pattoned emerged the winner. The Grand Slam of Slots has set a new benchmark for the online casino industry, which will undoubtedly be broken in 2010.
2009 saw innovation in online slot games. Defined paylines were done away with and winning combinations could appear in any of the possible 243 paylines. This meant that winning combinations were hit more frequently and this provided more excitement for the slots players. Again it was Microgaming that took the lead. The first All Ways slot game was released by Microgaming in February 2009 on the occasion of Valentines Day and was called Burning Desire. Other online gaming software providers followed suit. Vegas Technology released Grail Maiden and Cryptologic released Savannah Sunrise and Just Vegas.
In the last few months of 2009 two new series of online slot games featuring superheroes were released. The Cryptologic branded slot games based on Marvel Comics superheroes had been extremely popular. Playtech muscled in on the Marvel superheroes space by tying up with Marvel Movies. Their first two games The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man have been making waves. Cryptologic responded by tying up with DC Comics and has brought Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to the reels.
The year 2009 will be remembered as one in which the legal tussle in the United States reached fever pitch. The Department of Justice targeted payment processors to the online gaming industry and even froze bank accounts. In September The Court of Appeals held that the UIGEA was a valid law and there was no ambiguity as made out by the online gaming industry. The Kentucky domain name seizure case, which began in 2008, had a seesaw ride in 2009 and is currently pending for orders. The online gaming industry won minor battles late in 2009 when the implementation of the UIGEA rules were finally deferred for six months and Barney Frank's anti-UIGEA bill had its first hearing.
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