NetEnt is one of the leading online casino games and software suppliers. The company has been around almost since the industry first started. They established their position in the market with quality products and games that never fail to seize the attention of the gaming audiences.
There are a few casino players who haven’t had a chance to try a few NetEnt games during their time spent gambling online, but those completely new to online gambling are in for pleasant surprise.
NetEnt has released hundreds of titles since 1996, and most of these feature great graphics and exciting gameplay, boosted with interesting bonus features.
Before 2010 not many online casino players would have been able to tell you much about a Swedish based game developer by the name of NetEnt, now NetEnt. In fact none of the industries big players Microgaming, Playtech and the like would go on to give them a second thought until they were nearly a decade old!
NetEnt Founded in 1996 but relatively unknown mostly due to the fact that they produced fairly average casino games, mostly slots which in the early days were considered secondary games behind blackjack and roulette, and they focused on supporting a very niche region of the online gambling community, Scandinavia.
2006 saw the gambling community thrown into utter disarray as the largest online gambling revenue market effectively shut its doors! With the introduction of the UIEGA bill America went from the land of milk and wagers to an online casino desert devoid of players and income!
Not having been focused on the US market NetEnt was not impacted commercially by the UIEGA upheaval, rather they focused took the lesson that unregulated markets could be flipped upside down on a whim and focused their energies on legislation, public listings and innovating the online video slots market which was starting to come into its own.
It was in 2010 that NetEnt would break out its shell and take its place as a major player in the eye of slot lovers around the world. Over the years market tastes had evolved, many casinos had seen the profit margins of video slots and worked to make them more appealing to consumers by offering bigger bonuses and incentives – this had the intended impact on players and revenue generation from slots started to skyrocket as jackpot and casino bonuses did.
Old Dog, New Trick
This market shift played into NetEnt’s hands given their early focus on slots, and seeing the need to innovate their then new slots Gonzo’s Quest took the tired spinning reel formula and updated it by having the symbols drop down into position.
While fun visually it wasn’t the winning change, taking their cue from the burgeoning mobile game industry NetEnt then also allowed the symbols which had resulted in a winning payline to explode, and be replaced by new symbols dropping into position. If fortune was on your side these symbols would also match up causing them to explode and the pattern to repeat. This was the power of the newly created Cascading Slot Symbols, the potential for multiple repeated winning paylines on a single spin!
To add the final, yet equally important, layer to this attention grabbing slot the protagonist in the slots storyline, a conquistador by the name of Gonzo who has travelled to Eldorado to search for lost treasures and major jackpots, was a 3D modelled character who didn’t stand idly by as you played but interacted with the game.
Gonzo would jump for joy when you hit a big win, or show his impatience with a tapped foot if you left the slot idle for too long – he is after jackpots and treasures after all and those don’t come if you don’t spin!
Learning that players would spend more time on a game that told a story, introduced interesting if not downright lovable interactive characters, innovated the visual mechanics of the slot reels and came with the expected jackpots and features, set NetEnt apart from its peers and set them on a road to becoming a leader amongst giants!
“It’s a Fact! NetEnt based their hero Gonzo on a historical figure, the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro y Alonso, who defeated the Inca forces in 1534 for control of Cuzco, the Incan capital city.”
Moving On Up
With the breakout success of Gonzo’s Quest, and a healthy backlist of online slot games for the world to discover, NetEnt refused to sit back and simply enjoy their success. In fact their success taught them that only through innovation could one be assured of staying relevant, also the fall of megalith market the USA had once been proved that unregulated markets and businesses in general were not the path to follow if you wanted to be a history maker and not become forgotten part of it.
It’s from this realisation, and the important strategic and business decisions taken by the NetEnt leadership that we see a company who thrives where others stumbled and had to try to find their feet in this new post USA world…
Making Their Mark
With the decision to be a market leader made, the next step was for NetEnt to take its place as a trusted and transparent business. Keep in mind that at this time most people found the internet confusing, then add to that gambling which held a mystique of its own and many people were uncomfortable about their security and whether or not they were funding the mob or some other nefarious shadow entity.
To remove themselves from any of the mental blocks that the general public may have about this burgeoning online gambling industry NetEnt went public in 2007! Their first listing was on the Nordic Growth Market (NGM) equity stock exchange which operates in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Based on their success on the NGM they were able to make the move to prestigious Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2009. This exchange trades as the Nasdaq Stockholm, and has been in operation since 1863, making this listing a big win for the online casino company!
And The Winner Is… In April 2015 Annual General Meeting it was announced that NetEnt AB would run solely under the name NetEnt AB. It had apparently been legally running under both and for the sake of “effective and clear communication” would drop Net Entertainment in favour of NetEnt. Let’s be honest, NetEnt does sound cooler!
Deregulate, Reregulate, Repeat!
With NetEnt a registered and publically traded company they had paved the way for easier adoption into the many markets who, taking their lead from the US, were now looking into regulating online gambling. The preceding decade of unregulated gambling would prove to be fantastic case studies for countries world-wide on the desire of their people to gamble and the revenue generation possibilities it held.
For NetEnt regulation meant three things:
- The ability to ensure their patrons ongoing access to gambling services regardless of market shifts
- Increased value to their shareholders through global market share
- The ability to increase profits as their pool of competitors shrank, allowing NetEnt casinos to rise to the top
This strategy clearly worked for them as can been seen by their aggressive pursuit of regulated markets, and their success in acquiring and maintaining these licences despite the deregulation and reregulation that is commonplace across Europe when it comes to national gambling laws!
Here are some of the agreements NetEnt holds in regulated markets:
- 2011 – NetEnt is one of the first vendors to enter the newly regulated Italy
- 2012 – Denmark welcomes NetEnt into its marketplace
- 2015 – NetEnt receives its licence to operate in Great Britain from the UKGC
- 2015 – Spain grants NetEnt a gambling licence on the very 1st day that they become available
- 2016 – NetEnt games are live to players in both Bulgaria and Portugal
- 2016 – Romania grants NetEnt an online gambling licence
- 2017 – NetEnt enters the newly regulated Mexico, Serbia and Czechia
- 2017 – British Columbia, Canada, licences NetEnt as a casino games supplier
While their roots run deep in Scandinavia and across Europe the business minded NetEnt is always on the lookout for new lands, it must be a throwback to their Norse Viking heritage, and one of their primary targets in the North American continent.
With the American states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey open to regulated online gambling NetEnt has thrown its hat in the ring and applied for a licence to operate. The recent decision to allow the three States to allow play to flow across their combined regions has made this even more appealing. At the moment they have the right to offer casino games through existing operators in New Jersey but the big ticket item, their own gambling licence, is still under discussion!
Then looking further north to the regulated Canadian market NetEnt has obtained a license to offer real money casino games in British Columbia. The hope being that proving themselves to the Canadian gambling board in BC will open the way for expansion into Ontario, Quebec and several other provinces in the Great White North!
With Great Expansion Come Great Responsibility
As with any activity where you human beings are involved there is the danger that someone will go too far and end up doing themselves harm. This is true of exercise, collecting (anyone ever watched Hoarders?) and gambling.
NetEnt does not see themselves as gambling company but rather as their original name said ‘(inter)net entertainment’. Launch their website and you will be greeted with a full screen image that simple reads: Better Gaming, begins right here.
While this entertainment first mind set has led them to some amazing game play development, it has also impacted the way they see their customers. The customer is a patron, a partner or sorts, not a cash cow to be bled dry and this mentality shines through in their commitment to player protection through Responsible Gaming.
To ensure that their casino brands adhere to the strictest possible levels of customer protection, fair play and data security NetEnt has open door agreements with several Independent Accredited Testing Facilities:
- eCogra – certified online and mobile casino testing
- Gaming Laboratories International – onsite security inspection
- iTech Labs – certify the games and the software platform
- Technical Services Bureau – certify the games and the software platform
NetEnt also go a step further in pursuing annual audits from 3rd party auditing firms to ensure that there is nothing nefarious happening behind closed doors – or through an external parties interference such as hacking or corporate espionage which management may not have picked up.
These external audits are run by eCogra and G4 (Global Gambling Guidance Group) who cover every aspect of the business from Live Dealers to software integrity to general codes of conduct.
You’ve got the Power
While checks and audits are necessary there is no more powerful player protector than the player themselves. While NetEnt stand by their protocols they recognise that often these come into play once the damage is already done, to try nip any problem in the proverbial bud they have a suite of tools which empower every player to act immediately if they feel they might be running into trouble.
- There is a visible clock! We all know land based casinos remove all clocks and set the light to a perpetual dusk to encourage gamblers to stay longer than they intended to. Not NetEnt, their software makes the time clear as day so you can regulate your gaming hours.
- The reality check please! While land based casinos push the fantasy of gambling NetEnt’s Reality Check feature will periodically display your current wins and losses when playing for real money. Game play is paused and can only continue once you acknowledge the reality of your spending.
- Game Speed setting! You can set the amount of time between each game, typically 3 seconds is the suggested slow down time, to allow you to enjoy the game and not blow your budget chasing losses or jackpots. This feature will not be enabled if you choose to use the Quick Spin feature.
- Set your Play Limits! NetEnt allows you to set your spend and gameplay limits, and provides in-game notifications when these limits have been reached!
- Self-Exclusion is Key! When you feel the bug is biting a little too strongly, or you’ve caught yourself chasing a loss or a jackpot a little too hard you can choose to self-exclude. The casino will enforce a time out whereby you cannot access your casino account to gamble, nor should they send you any bonus marketing material. Once your cool off period is over you’re welcome to get back to being entertained.
“Self-Exclusion Is Serious Business: The UKGC fined 888 UK Limited a staggering £7.8 million after they had erroneously handled their self-exclusion process. The fine was split between refunding the losses of affected players, a refund to an employer who had been stolen from by a self-excluded player and funding the activities of various player support groups!”
Was Gonzo’s Quest Their Magnum Opus?
With all this talk of pursuing licences in regulated markets, getting their business onto the stock exchange and just generally running an industry darling business you would think that perhaps their initial drive to innovate the space had taken a back seat – well you’d be wrong!
- 2011 – NetEnt launches the first of many mobile casino games
- 2013 – Live Dealer games are launched, along with more mobile games
- 2014 – Netent launches their first full HTML5 casino game
- 2015 – Land based casinos receive the very first offline NetEnt slots
- 2016 – NetEnt launches its first Live Dealer mobile casino
- 2016 – ICE in London is treated to a demo of NetEnt’s newest VR casino technology
In fact NetEnt have gone on to become one of the leading developers in the mobile casino and mobile slots categories, taking home several industry awards, and often doing so several times concurrently:
- EGR Awards 2010-2012: Innovation in RNG Casinos
- EGR Awards 2012: Innovation in Slots Provision
- EGR Awards 2013: Innovation in Slot Provision, Innovation in Mobile and Mobile Supplier of the Year
- IGA Awards 2014: Innovator of the Year
- WiG Awards 2014: Leader of the Year (iGaming)
- EGR Awards 2014: Mobile Supplier of the Year (2nd year running), Slot Provider of the Year and RNG Casino Supplier of the Year
- Global Gaming Awards 2014: Digital Gaming Innovation of the Year
- WiG Awards 2015: Hidden Talent of the Year (Live Casino Development Manager)
- EGR Awards 2015: Slot Provider of the Year, Innovation in Mobile and Mobile Supplier of the Year (their hat trick win).
All in all NetEnt have proven themselves to be an industry giant which has become synonymous with stellar entertainment, safe online gambling and ground breaking casino game innovation! Not a bad day’s work for a little company from Sweden.