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  1. As online slot fans there is nothing more exciting than seeing our fellow players take home amazing jackpot wins on our favourite casino games. At GamblersPick we thought that now would be the time to celebrate with the lucky spins, immaculate timing, and mega wins of 2021. The 7 Biggest Jackpot Wins of 2021 Let’s kick off this exciting list of big wins and progressive jackpots with the largest payout for the year and work our way down the list from there: ✓Absolootly Mad Mega Moolah - €19.4 million April 27, 2021, will be a day to remember for one lucky player at Napoleon casino thanks to a life-changing Mega Moolah progressive jackpot win. The Belgian slot fan went from enjoying a few spins of his favourite slot machine to claiming the biggest online jackpot in history with a massive €19,430,724 win on Microgaming’s Absolootly Mad slot. CEO at Microgaming, Jon Coleman, said: “We’re absolootly delighted to see Mega Moolah make history once again with its latest record-breaking win, and what an incredible win it is – €19.4 million! That’s the largest jackpot payout in an online slot of all time. Congrats to the player, and well done to Napoleon Sports & Casino on their second Mega jackpot win on our network in as many weeks.” With more than €1.3 billion in payouts across their progressive network Microgaming are consistently one of the hottest jackpot slot providers. ✓Book of Atem: WowPot - €17.5 million The only this better than holding first place in the jackpot race must be holding first and second position. This is exactly what Microgaming has managed to accomplish with a stunning €17,529,047.11 progressive payout on their Book of Atem WowPot slot. Neil Banbury, UK General Manager for the Kindred Group, said: “We’re overjoyed for our player, first and foremost. Congrats on this incredible win! Well done to Microgaming, too, for delivering the industry’s leading range of progressive jackpot games. WowPot comes with a cracking set of games and is now on par with Mega Moolah as one of the big hitters.” What makes this win by a 32Red Casino player even more special is the fact that it was also the first Mega jackpot won on Book of Atem since its inception in September 2020. ✓Deal or No Deal Jackpot King slot - €8.1 million A new and exciting addition to this list of incredible jackpot wins is the recent €8,133,445.23 win on Blueprint Gaming’s underappreciated Deal or No Deal Jackpot King progressive slot. Jo Purvis, Director of UK Marketing at Blueprint Gaming, said: “Many congratulations to the lucky individual who’s received the biggest ever prize from Jackpot King. This is a truly life-changing sum of money and we couldn’t be happier for the player! This latest big win epitomises the beauty of Jackpot King and why it continues to be an integral part of an operator’s online casino offering.” The amazing thing is that this win did not cost very much at all. The lucky PokerStars Casino player was playing only €0.80 per game, and after reaching the Wheel King level was awarded an €8.1 million payday. ✓Crazy Time Live - €2.8 million An unusual entry into this list of incredible jackpot wins is Evolution Gaming’s Crazy Time live game. Building on the Dream Catcher money wheel concept Crazy Time allows players to choose their own adventure and as such win based on their decisions, not group choices. The internet went wild when Evolution Tweeted out: “Check out this massive win on the Crazy Time bonus game, where a 5000x multiplier gave a total winning pay-out of €2.8 million to players!” A group of lucky players spinning the Crazy Time wheel in the early hours of the morning landed the games maximum 5000x multiplier, awarded a cumulative jackpot payout of €2,802,834! ✓Aztec Millions slot - €3.7 million 2021 has been a good year for one lucky Golden Euro player when she turned a €27 deposit into a mind-blowing €3,746,291 win. Rather than one of the usual progressive slots we expect to see wins of this magnitude from she got lucky spinning the reels of Realtime Gaming’s popular Aztec Millions slot. ✓Sherlock & Moriarty WowPot - €2 million With two entries into the years ‘biggest jackpot wins’ list, It seems that Napoleon casino is using 2021 to transform their players into millionaires! The lucky player who has chosen to remain anonymous was cracking cases on Microgaming’s March 2021 slot title, Sherlock & Moriarty WowPot slot, when they uncovered the location a massive €2,025,388.75 windfall. ✓Sisters of Oz WowPot - €1.1 million The Sisters of Oz are doing it for themselves with the help of Microgaming’s WowPot progressive jackpot. After a near-miss in January of this year, one lucky player managed to crack the million Euro win mark on March 12th with a win of €1,123,513.15! This win is the third WowPot progressive jackpot payout in excess of €1 million in 2021. If the trend continues in the months that lie ahead WowPot could become a serious contender for the top progressive network of the year.
  2. While the adage "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" would have you believe that there is no real difference between gambling online or at your local casino, that simply is not true. While land-based casinos do offer certain benefits like the potential to get free drinks, be comped a meal, and the experience of a night out “on the town”, playing at an online casino offers far more benefits for both experienced and beginner gamblers to enjoy. Why Gambling Online is the Best Here are 10 reasons why we believe online casinos trump their land-based peers every day of the week: 1. Perfect Environment for New Players Most online casinos offer free to play versions of the real money games they have on offer. This is the perfect way for new players to get to grips with the mechanics, features and bet sizes of any game they intend to play for real money later. Not only can you play these games for free, but each game comes with handy in-game hints and a detailed help file that explains everything from what each button does to how wins are determined and the games specific return to player percentage. 2. Online Casinos Offer Better Payouts The simple fact of the matter is that the House always has an advantage, whether playing online or at a land-based gambling venue – the trick is optimising that advantage as best possible. This is where online casinos beat out their brick and mortar counterpart’s hands down. Land-based casinos must cover the costs of running sprawling complexes which include restaurants, bars, clubs and all the staff to man these various activities. Online casinos only have support staff and tech-related costs which cost a fraction of what it takes to run an offline casino. This is why online casinos offer payouts of around 96%, this means the average house edge is as low as 4%. 3. Incredibly Range of Online Slots Slot machines are by far the most popular game type whether you choose to play online or offline, this is due to their wide range of themes, interactive features, payline options and jackpot win potential. Plus, individual developers each offer something unique to give their slots even more appeal. Big Time Gaming created their Megaways system offering up to 117,649 ways to win, Microgaming offers incredible progressive jackpot wins on their Mega Moolah slots and so much more. 4. Gamble When It Suits You Unlike online casinos which are open all year round, not all local casinos offer 24/7 access to their games. By playing online you can hop onto your favourite slot machine or play a few hands of blackjack whenever it is best for you. Oftentimes it is also simply not possible to coordinate getting to a casino venue at conventional times given the demands placed on our time by work, travel, family and more. In this instance being able to relax over a cup of coffee and a few spins of the reels when you have downtime available to you is an important feature. When you add this to the fact that you can play on your mobile device online gambling offers the most comprehensive, customer-first, gambling experience you could hope for. 5. Live and Play on Your Mobile The mobile device is far more than just a phone these days, we all run our lives from these tiny handheld computers. Online casinos understand this and offer an engaging gambling experience right there in the palm of your hand. Best of all thanks to high-quality apps and HTML5 these casinos offer the same entertainment on your device as they do when you play on your laptop or desktop computer. Allowing you to gamble whenever and wherever you want to. 6. There is Always a Seat for You A very real downside to gambling at a land-based venue, especially in smaller towns, is limited seating or access to popular games. At an online casino, whether you are playing at peak traffic times or in the middle of the night, your favourite casino table or online slot will be waiting for you to dive right in. This is equally true of buying additional casino chips while playing your favourite game. Online casinos allow you to easily top your chip stack from within the game you are playing rather than expecting you to get out of the action to go get more chips as you would at your local casino. 7. Fantastic Casino Bonus Selection Receiving bonuses at a land-based casino is highly unlikely for a new player. All new players at reputable online casinos will receive some form of welcome bonus. This bonus acts both as a gift basket to make you feel at home and as a safety net with which you can test out casino games without risking your own money. These casino bonuses will include deposit match bonuses, Free Spins, no deposit bonuses, wager free bonuses or a combination of these. Once you are a regular at the casino you will be able to avail yourself of reload bonuses, cashback and Loyalty bonuses. 8. Choose When to Play with Others A big part of ensuring your mental health though, especially during lockdowns is having the choice to play with others when you need contact and give yourself space when that is more important. One of the fastest-growing niches within the online gaming industry is the live casino sector. This allows players to step away from purely RNG casino games to enjoy the experience of interacting with a live dealer and the players around the table. As the market appetite for live games has grown so developers like Evolution Gaming have stepped up to grow their selection beyond traditional games like blackjack, roulette, and craps, to include custom games like Monopoly Live, Deal or No Deal Live and Mega Ball. 9. Protect Your Privacy with Bitcoin For players who are looking to further enhance the privacy and security offered by online gambling, there is the option to gamble at a Bitcoin casino. These sites are built on the blockchain, offer provably fair gambling, and ensure that your transactions are hidden from prying eyes thanks to Bitcoin’s incredible encryption. This is over and above any other measures, one can take online to protect their search histories and online banking by using virtual private networks (VPN) to connect to the internet. 10. Safety First When making the decision whether to play online or go to a local casino one must consider the potential health risks. Given the current situation we all find ourselves in, it is prudent to avoid crowds of people and rather play from home. With the ease of access to multiple casinos and swathes of cutting edge casino games, not to mention the bonuses and 24/7 personal support, there is very little reason to play at a land-based casino when with the click of a button you can enjoy world-class entertainment from the comfort of your home.
  3. Year after year, April 1st rolls around, and the public waits with bated breath for the latest prank or ploy to hit the newspapers and social media. While it is becoming more and more difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of the masses, now and then a company or individual will get it right and leave their unsuspecting victims red-faced at the fact that they have been duped. Join us as we delve into the origins, history, and evolution of this famous globally celebrated day and take the time to enjoy some short stories of the best pranks ever carried out. April Fool’s Day and its Origins April Fool’s Day falls on the 1st of April every year. It is a traditional celebration of mischief and tomfoolery. Traditionally, individuals, companies, and corporates concoct ridiculous stories and events to trick other members of the public for the sake of a laugh. With the help of circulated media, the internet, radio, and television, pranks can be broadcast to thousands of people, simultaneously. Part of the fun of the day is trying to decipher the real news from fake reports. Did you know? The earliest recorded celebrations of April Fool’s Day go back to the 18th Century (the 1700s) where it was celebrated as a two-day event. The first day would involve sending people on phoney errands, while the second day involved playing pranks on one another, such as pinning fake tales or ‘kick me’ signs on people’s backs. Although the true origin of this celebration and its trickster practices remains a mystery to this day, some have taken educated guesses as to where this tradition all started. Here are three good guesses: ✓ A Change in the Calendars There is some speculation that April Fool’s Day dates back to the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar by the French in 1582. The Julian Calendar instituted New Year’s Day around the Spring Equinox, which is roughly the 1st of April each year. Once the transition was made to the Gregorian Calendar, New Year fell to the 1st of January, but some people either failed to receive the news in time or outright refused to break from their long-formed traditions. Either way, many continued to celebrate New Year’s during the last week of March to the dismay of others, who brandished them as ‘’April Fools’’. Quick Fact: In the late 1500s, those who observed New Year’s Day on the 1st of April after the transition to the Gregorian calendar, became the victims of pranks and mockery. One of the most popular pranks included tagging a paper fish on their back of an unsuspecting person. This fish (called the ‘’April fish’’) alluded to someone gullible and easily caught. This is honestly one of the most likely origins of the tradition, as the practices observed above fit the mould of the April Fool’s Day that we all know well today. ✓ Roman Ancestry Educated historians have linked the possible genesis of April Fool’s Day to Ancient Roman culture, and specifically, the festival of Hilaria, practised by the Cybele cultists. This festival involved citizens disguising themselves in costumes and then mocking and pranking their kinsmen and other popular officials. The roots of the festival seem to traditionally emanate from Egypt, where it received inspiration from mythological gods like Isis, Osiris, and Seth. ✓ Seasonal Swindle The last credible speculation of the Origin of April Fool’s Day ties in with the vernal equinox. Many believe that the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is a swindle of mother nature on the world. Some believe that she unleashes unpredictable weather to fool the people from one day to the next. The Craziest Pranks in History Over the centuries, pranks have gotten bigger and better. We can thank advancements in communication technology for this. Some of you might be astounded at the extent that people have gone to for a laugh. To capture the heart of the celebration, we have listed 5 of the best pranks ever recorded. ✓ Bathing Lions The earliest recorded April Fool’s Day hoax on the history books hails from London in 1698, according to the website, ‘’Museum of Hoaxes’’. Citizens of London were urged to attend the lion washing ceremony at the Tower of London to observe the annual bathing of Africa’s largest cats. Masses of people showed up only to realise that it was all a hoax. The prank was a big hit and was pulled each year from then on, targeting visitors to London with great success each time. Eventually, the pranksters began printing tickets to the show, duping thousands of unknowing victims in the process. ✓ Branson’s UFO Airways In 1989, Richard Branson (the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group) planned the ultimate April Fool’s Day prank for Hyde Park in London, however, the prank came a day earlier in the town of Surrey. On the evening of March 31st, English residents in Surrey noticed a flying saucer hovering in the air and then landing in a nearby field. The police went to the field to investigate the phenomenon, only to meet a silver space suit-clad figure exiting the ‘flying saucer’. They were so spooked that reports say they ran away. Richard Branson had been hiding in the flying saucer as well. It turns out that he and Don Cameron decked out a hot air balloon to look like an ‘other-worldly’ UFO to spoof Londoners in Hyde Park on April 1st. A change in wind conditions forced them to land the ‘sputnik’ a little earlier than expected. While the desired outcome was different from what was planned, the result was still hilarious. ✓ The Liberty Bell Buy Taco Bell, a famous food joint in the USA, ran a spoof newspaper ad in 1996, announcing their purchase of the Liberty Bell. While the initial take on the news may have seemed scandalous and received a negative response from the masses, it was undeniable that the old adage of “any exposure is good exposure’’ worked for the company and resulted in an upturn of business once the public realised it was a prank. Did you know? Inspiration for the mobile game sensation, ‘’Pokémon Go’’ came from a fake April Fool’s Day prank instituted by Google in 2014. The massive multimedia company advertised that it would be releasing a game that would allow players to catch Pokémon characters in the real world using Google maps. While the news turned out to be fake, Niantic Labs took the joke and ran with it. This prank became a pioneering feat that has altered the views of many companies when it comes to marketing. Since then, multiple businesses have used spoofs and jokes to draw attention to their brands. ✓ Spaghetti Trees Please One of the most famous April Fool’s pranks took place in England on April 1st, 1957, when the BBC aired a fake news segment on “an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop” harvested in Ticino, Switzerland. The news feed even filmed people picking the pasta from trees and bushes. While some viewers were upset that a stand-up newscaster would stoop to dupe the public with such fiction, other viewers enquired about how they could start their own spaghetti plantation at home. ✓ No Naked Beasts Not even National Geographic has managed to avoid being a little mischievous over the years. A Twitter announcement in 2016 stated that the reputable publisher would no longer publish photos of naked animals. Instead, it posted a gallery of clothed creatures on social media to promote their newfound views on animal rights. Their tweet read: "The media group says that it will no longer degrade animals by showing photos of them without clothes." Upon clicking through the pics, readers were met with an ‘’April Fools’’ notice amidst the gallery of adorably dressed dogs, cats, and more. Celebrate April Fool’s Day with GamblersPick At GamblersPick we enjoy celebrating special days in a unique way. Get ready for the mischief and mayhem of April 1st by playing a slot game dedicated to the Norse god of mischief himself, Loki. The Legend of Loki slot by iSoftbet is a fabulous game where the trickster will help you outplay other gods like Thor and Odin for rewards of up to 10,000x your stake. The comic visuals and epic soundtrack of the game are inviting and will appeal to those who have followed the antics of this troublemaker from their childhood. Play on 20 paylines where the higher volatility and average return to player ratio come together for great rewards if you practice patience. Some of the game stats include: Reels: 5 Paylines: 20 Volatility: Medium-High RTP: 96.23% Max Win: 10,000x The most fun arrives when you manage to trigger the special features in the game. Play for Free Spins with sticky symbols, Wild Strike sticky wilds, symbol transformations, stacked re-spins, and a whole lot more. Round-Up Round off your April Fools by playing this engaging game at one of our GamblersPick Select casino sites to ensure the most exciting gameplay experience around, all within the safest gambling environment. One thing you can be sure of at our site is that we are not here to make a fool of you, but instead offer you the chance to partner up with the best selection of community-approved casinos around! That means you can relax and enjoy genuinely refined online gambling entertainment.
  4. In the online gambling world, few game types take as much intricate planning to produce as Online Slots. Increasing innovation and technological enhancements have made playing video slots super exciting. The special graphic effects, sounds, and features developed over the past few years have been entertaining and have inadvertently churned up a heated and competitive market space. Did you know? In the USA, the latest stats show that nearly half of all casino visitors play slots. The trends are not set to change either, as a new generation is entering the market. These players have grown up on video games and are likely to engage better with slots than other game types. Quick fact: Online gambling stats in the UK show that young adults between the ages of 25 and 44 years old dominate the gambling player market. This is sure to make an impact on gambling trends. It is believed that online slot games will rule the casino world for years to come. We can expect to see so much more from this sector. Each year, the quality of the games improves, and the diversity of features and mechanics grow. This has us excited about the prospects for 2021! Let’s take a look at what we can expect in the slot world this coming year. ✓ Bitcoin is Booming! Decentralised casinos are a big thing right now, especially with all the attention that Bitcoin is getting in the finance sector thanks to its hefty growth over the past year. This has resulted in a healthy introduction of casino start-ups in this segment. With a push for a more transparent gaming environment, Game developers in this segment are introducing more and more titles with provably fair algorithms built into the RNG software. This way players can validate that each game is random and fair. Quick Fact: With provably fair games, the game developer provides specific tools for players to use that grant them access to the software’s open-source code. Gamblers can check to make sure that no alterations are made to the RNGs algorithms while a spin of the reels is underway, thereby proving that the result is unmanipulated and random. For this reason, we can expect that far more provably fair online slot games will enter the marketplace over the course of 2021. This is sure to set a strong trend for greater transparency in the casino market, as a whole. ✓ Mobile is Mapping the Future While mobile gaming is not new to the online gambling industry, we expect that far more players will be turning to “on the go” gaming options in 2021. More and more people are acquiring mobile phones year on year, which bodes well for gambling statistics. Did you know? Many top gaming providers are developing their games for mobile-first, in keeping with the obvious trends in this market. More and more people are using their mobile phones to manage every part of their lives. From watching Netflix to diarising their days and spending time on social media. It is only natural that these same people would use their handsets to play their favourite online slot games too. ✓ Keep an Eye on AR and VR Technology Virtual Reality entered the market a few years ago, providing players with a far more immersive way to play slots. Players could actually enter into the virtual world of the game by donning special headgear. They could control the mechanics with hand gestures which would be relayed back to the gaming software via sophisticated sensors. The main reason that VR did not catch on then was that the hardware was very expensive to purchase and not everyone could afford the tech needed for it. New tech is always over-inflated when it comes to cost, but we can hope to see these prices normalise soon. The implementation of VR for mobile is a far more cost-effective alternative as well, so expect to see VR’s possible return this year. Augmented Reality (AR) is another engaging gaming alternative to watch out for. The technology uses overlays in the mobile app software to superimpose an augmented reality over your present environment, which is visible on your phone’s screen. Did you know: One of the most popular Augmented Reality games still played today is Pokémon Go. While it is not a gambling title, it provides us with the perfect example of how slots may play out in the near future. We said earlier that this was the year for mobile technology innovation, and this may be two ways in which “on the go” gameplay might steal the show in 2021. ✓ Enhancements in 3D Imagery The noticeable demand for titles in video gaming culture has been for games that look more realistic. The better the graphics and effects, the more popular games tend to be. This is becoming the norm among modern video slot players too. This is also one of the reasons that games like Gonzo’s Quest are timeless classics. Here, 3D imagery was used to provide a cinematic-like experience for its players. With enhancements in CGI, game developers have all the tools at their disposal to create ground-breaking strides in the graphics department. Quick Fact: CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery. It is a popular form of technology used to enhance the special effects visible in movies and TV programs. It is based on the 3D imagery that we are seeing more and more in video games and slots today. Keep your eye on the line up of games each month to earmark the stacks of ‘pretty’ games we are expecting will arrive this coming year. ✓ AI to Handle Slot Security The standards of security are set for enhancement this year, as game developers and online casinos opt for AI-backed protection for their players. Quick Fact: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer science that uses machine learning protocols to undertake smart actions that would normally require human intelligence. In many sectors, AI is used to greater effect than a human workforce, because of the speed of transactions possible through the software mechanics. Artificial Intelligence protocols will be able to pick up on suspicious activities and hacking risks within seconds and move to resolve/neutralise the issues that players are facing in real-time. The Promise of More While the forecasting for the future of the slot industry is no exact science, all the trends suggest that the above technologies and innovations will be metered out over the next few years. One thing is certain though – This year promises advancements in the iGaming realms and is bound to build upon the innovations of last year to give us something more than we had in the past.
  5. Canada’s online gambling space is growing at a rapid pace. The industry currently generates sales in excess of $30 billion and is primed to continue growing. As more people join the fray, the questions are growing. What can you expect? Where can you find trusted online casinos? What do the rules look like? In light of this, we have compiled a list of the 50 most frequently asked questions relating to online gambling in Canada. We’ve addressed your burning questions so that you can stay informed! Plus, we’ve added handy categories to help you navigate these FAQs easily. Top Canada-friendly Online Casinos 1. Best online gambling sites for Canada? There are plenty of wonderful gambling sites available to the Canadian market. The top online sites are generally rated due to a variety of factors, including the number of games, payout size, speed of payment, trustworthiness, security and overall customer experience. To check out our top-rated Canadian online gambling sites, visit our Canada Online Casinos page. 2. Are instant play casinos available in Canada? Instant play casinos allow for immediate play in a web browser and do not require an application to be downloaded. Thanks to HTML5 coding, instant play casinos are available in Canada, with many online sites offering the no-download version. 3. Which online casinos offer the best payouts in Canada? Payouts are an important part of any online casino offering. The top payout rates for online casinos in Canada generally exceed 96%. For a comprehensive list of online casinos with high payout rates, have a look at our Canada online casino page. 4. Which Canadian online casinos can be trusted? There are several ways to verify the trustworthiness of an online casino. The first step is to check the licences of the online casino. If the licence has been issued by one of the industry’s top regulatory authorities, this is usually a good sign. Secondly, check if the games on the site undergo regular testing to ensure fairness. Testing bodies such as eCOGRA usually issue their stamp of approval to online casinos who have been audited by them, so be on the lookout for these badges on the casino site. GamblersPick has compiled a list of trusted Canadian online casinos and assigned them the Select badge. GamblersPick only awards this badge to casinos who are properly licensed and can show proof of fairness. In addition, casinos bearing the Select badge are licensed and regularly audited by an independent third party. 5. Which Canadian online casinos are good for beginners? When looking for a good casino, beginners need to consider two things: trustworthiness and ease of gameplay. Beginners should stick to online casinos in Canada that carry licenses from any of the top regulatory bodies, as this is generally a good indication of an online casino’s trustworthiness. As for gameplay, beginners should consider starting with online casinos that offer a wide variety of table games, especially blackjack, as this is seen as one of the easiest to comprehend. Most Canadian online casinos we feature offer blackjack, roulette and other table games which are easier for beginners to grasp. 6. Do I have to download software to play at Canada online casinos? Not always. While some online casinos do require the downloading of software to proceed, many online casinos are ‘instant play’. This means that no downloads are needed. 7. Are online casinos in Canada always open? Most online gambling sites in Canada are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What may not be readily available are the customer support lines. 8. Where can I find online casino reviews for Canada? While online casino reviews are readily available on the internet, if you’re looking for honest reviews, look no further than GamblersPick. 9. What is the best online casino in Canada? While the title of ‘best online casino’ is quite subjective, the current favourite online casino among Canadians seems to be Jackpot City. Check out the GamblersPick review of Jackpot City. Welcome Bonuses and Promotions in Canada 10. Can I claim a welcome bonus when signing up at a Canadian online casino? Most Canadian online casinos offer a welcome bonus to new players who sign up. However, deposit rules may vary from casino to casino, so it is advisable to read up on the Ts and Cs before signing up. 11. What are my chances of winning at a Canadian online casino? There’s no definitive answer here. While there may be statistical odds or theoretical Return-To-Player (RTP) figures available, the reality is that any chance of winning boils down to pure luck. Canadians looking to indulge in the online casino experience should never pin their hopes on the stated odds. 12. Are there wagering requirements on winnings in Canada? It depends on the casino. While many establishments still use wagering requirements, several top online casinos have taken to offering players wager-free deposits and Free Spins. 13. Can I gamble for free online in Canada? Plenty of online casinos in Canada allow users to play free or demo versions of games without having to first register. While no winnings can accrue from these free games, players will be able to get acquainted with the rules and gameplay before making any deposits. 14. How do I choose a real money Canadian online casino? There are several ways to go about choosing a real money online casino. You could spend hours, if not days, doing the research yourself. Alternatively, you can check out GamblersPick’s recommended Select list of real money Canadian online casinos. 15. Are there online gambling promotions in Canada? Yes, there are. Most online casinos in Canada offer a selection of bonuses and promotions to attract players. These bonuses can be quite varied, ranging from free spins to deposit bonuses to seasonal tournaments. Each online casino provides its own unique offering. For a great selection of online casinos with top promotions, be sure to visit GamblersPick’s Canada Online Casino page. 16. Can you win money on online casinos in Canada? Winning is by no means guaranteed. However, if lady luck smiles down on you, there is every chance that you may pocket large sums of money from your online casino winnings. It should be stressed that online casinos should be primarily used for fun. Know when to stop, before the fun ends. Playing By The Rules 17. Are online gambling winnings taxable in Canada? The good news for Canadians is that winnings from online gambling are not taxed. However, any interest earned on gambling winnings must be declared. 18. Is online gambling in Canada legal? In short, yes. It is legal for Canadians to play at any offshore online casino. However, it is illegal for a company to operate an online casino in Canada without a license. 19. Legal age for gambling online in Canada? The general minimum age for gambling in Canada is 19, except in Alberta, Calgary, Manitoba, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec, where the legal gambling age is 18 years. 20. What are the online gambling rules in Canada? Canada does not have many rules when it comes to online gambling. The Canadian government made the decision a while back to leave the rules surrounding gambling (including online gambling) to each province. At present, the rules simply state that it is illegal to operate an online casino without a licence from the relevant authority. Canadian players, however, can play at an offshore online casino, provided that the casino is properly registered and regulated. 21. Is online gambling banned in Canada? Online gambling is not banned in Canada. However, it is illegal to operate an online casino from within Canada without the proper licence. 22. How can I find legit online gambling sites in Canada? One of the best ways to find legit online gambling sites is to check their licence. While there is never a guarantee of legitimacy, all good casinos should, at the very least, hold a gaming licence from a reputable regulatory body. Casinos holding licences from the Malta Gaming Authority, UK Gambling Commission, the Curacao Gaming Control Board, Kahnawake Gaming Commission or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority are generally seen as safer bets, due to the stringent licence requirements of these authorities. If you’re interested in checking out safe and trustworthy Canadian online casino sites, be sure to visit the Gamblerspick Canada online casinos site and view a variety of Canadian sites bearing the signature Gamblerspick Select badge. These sites have been verified for quality based on trustworthiness, safety and customer experience. 23. Can I play at international online casinos in Canada? Yes, Canadian citizens can play at international online casinos as no laws are prohibiting this. 24. Can US citizens gamble online in Canada? The answer is yes. US citizens are free to gamble online in Canada, as there is no specific federal law prohibiting this. However, in terms of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it is illegal for banks to handle any deposits or withdrawals related to a US player’s casino account. Online Gambling Banking Options 25. Can I gamble for real money in Canada? Yes, you can. Players can deposit via debit card, credit card, EFT or several other methods. This money can be used to gamble for real money winnings. 26. Can I use PayPal when online gambling in Canada? Currently, online casinos in Canada do not accept PayPal as a form of transaction. The reason for this is that PayPal only operates in countries with clearly regulated and defined laws. As Canada does not currently have clearly defined online gambling laws, PayPal will not run the risk of processing any illegal gambling payments. 27. Are there banking fees when playing at Canadian casinos? This depends on which banking methods are used. Some instant banking methods will attract a fee, while most e-wallet transactions will also see a fee charged. Most prepaid cards and credit cards do not charge a fee. 28. Can I use my credit card when gambling online in Canada? Yes. Most online casinos available in Canada will allow players to deposit and withdraw money using credit cards. 29. Can I play at online casinos using Canadian dollars? Yes, as most online casinos available in Canada allow users to play using Canadian dollars. 30. Which Canadian banks allow online gambling? Currently, there are only 5 banks in Canada that allow online gambling, namely the Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Royal Bank of Canada and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. 31. Will I need to verify my identity before making a withdrawal? Most online casino sites in Canada will require verification before withdrawals can be made. This is mainly to prevent fraud and money laundering. However, not all online sites have made identity verification a requirement. Safe and Responsible Gambling In Canada 32. Who regulates online gambling in Canada? There is no specific body that regulates the online gambling industry as a whole. Due to changes in the Canadian Criminal Code, the regulation of gambling activity, including online gambling, fell to the specific provinces. Within Canada, The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is the regulatory body charged with issuing the licenses needed by online casinos to operate within certain Canadian territories. 33. Where can I get help for gambling problems in Canada? For people struggling with gambling addiction, several organisations in Canada offer assistance. Industry-specific organisations include Gamtalk and Gambling Therapy. 34. Will my information be safe at Canadian online casinos? While it is never possible to guarantee the safety of any information, there are plenty of casinos that conform to the strictest levels of security and encryption to protect customer information. If you’re looking for online casinos that offer strong safety protocols, check out Gamblerspick’s list of online Canadian casinos that have received the Select badge of approval. 35. What is the online gambling regulation in Canada? From a regulation perspective, players from Canada can gamble at online casinos located offshore. The only requirement is that they be legally registered to operate. 36. re there safe online gambling sites in Canada? Yes, there are. Online casinos that are regulated by a top gaming authority are the safest options, as these authorities impose strict conditions on casino operators wishing to obtain a licence. Gamblerspick has put together a comprehensive list of safe Canadian online casinos for you to visit! 37. Is it safe to download software from online casinos in Canada? It is generally quite safe to download software from any licensed and trusted online casino in Canada. Always check the casino’s regulatory licences before downloading software. Online casinos regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority and the Curacao Gaming Control Board are usually seen as quite secure. 38. Is online casino gambling popular in Canada? Online gambling is growing in popularity in Canada. Almost 20 million Canadians actively gamble online. This has resulted in billions of dollars in revenue being generated. 39. What is the safest online casino in Canada? While it’s not easy to tell you what the safest online casino in Canada is, we can tell you that the safest casinos will adhere to the highest security protocols and will go the extra mile to ensure the protection of your sensitive information. This is why Gamblers Pick has a compiled a list of Canadian online casinos that meet their criteria in terms of, among other things, safety protocols. These casinos have been given Select status, meaning that they have all been verified for quality. Sports Betting in Canada 40. Is sport betting safe in Canada? Sports betting is generally quite safe in Canada. While there is no foolproof system, Canadians can only place bets with betting houses that are properly registered and licensed. Players can feel reasonably safe in the knowledge that, barring any unforeseen issue, they are placing bets in a relatively safe environment. 41. Is online sports betting allowed in Canada? Much like online gambling, there is no formal law prohibiting online sports betting in Canada. Players are therefore generally free to place online sports bets as they see fit. Canadian law does prohibit players from being found in illegal betting houses or casinos. 42. Are there legal online sports betting sites in Canada? The only legal online sports betting sites in Canada are the ones carrying licences from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. That doesn’t mean that Canadians cannot enjoy betting on their favourite sports online, as there are plenty of offshore betting sites that cater to them. Popular Online Slots 43. Can I play with free spins at an online casino in Canada? Yes. Many casinos offer free spins. These spins are generally awarded when a particular deposit amount is made. It is also usually linked to a specific online slot. 44. Are there progressive jackpot games at Canadian casinos? Yes, there certainly are. Canadian online casinos, much like other casinos around the world, offer a variety of progressive jackpot games. As these jackpots accumulate. Canadian players stand the chance to win millions. 45. What are the best online gambling slots in Canada? There are some incredible online slots available in Canada. Depending on your definition of ‘best’, this may vary. If you’re interested in checking out Canada’s top slots, head over to Gamblerspick’s Canada online casinos page now! Canadian Mobile Gambling 46. Are there online gambling apps in Canada? Many online gambling sites in Canada also offer mobile apps. These online apps can be downloaded onto most Android, iOS and Windows devices. 47. Best online gambling apps in Canada? While there are plenty of great online gambling apps available, there are several standout options for Canadians. These include LeoVegas, Play OJO, Unibet and Betway. 48. Can I play on mobile when gambling online in Canada? Yes, you can. Most online casinos have formatted their sites for play on almost any mobile device. Users can experience the thrill of online casino gaming wherever they go! Finding the Best Casino Games 49. What is the best software for online casinos in Canada? Everyone has their favourites when it comes to the best software available. Some of the top software for online casinos are provided by the industry’s biggest names, such as Playtech, NetEnt, Microgaming and IGT. 50. Which software providers can be found at Canadian online casinos? Some of the industry’s top software providers can be found in Canadian online casinos. These include legendary companies like NetEnt, Microgaming, Quickspin and Playtech. This list of questions is by no means exhaustive. They simply represent the most common questions currently arising from the Canadian market. Frankly, the more questions, the better informed the player. For more information regarding the world of online gambling in Canada, be sure to check out the GamblersPick Canada page.
  6. For beer lovers around the world, this is a bittersweet time of year. While the 2020 Oktoberfest celebrations are dated from September 19th to October 4th the official Volksfest celebration in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, has been cancelled due to the pandemic. Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter noted: "It's a quite sad day for me today, several hearts are beating in my chest. The fact that the Wiesn 2020 cannot take place is a bitter pill to swallow. We hope that next year we can make it up together!" As lovers of German beer and in order to keep the spirit of the festival alive, we have compiled a list of interesting facts and information about the Oktoberfest which will keep you entertained. If you are looking for fantastic Online Slots’ entertainment, we have included several top-notch Oktoberfest-themed games. What is the Oktoberfest? As outrageous as this may sound, we have a royal wedding to thank for the cultural behemoth that is the Oktoberfest. King Ludwig I married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810, and the ensuing festivities were held in open fields named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's Meadow") in honour of the newly crowned queen. In honour of the auspicious occasion, it was decided to make the celebrations an annual event which the locals simply began to refer to as Wiesn. The original selection of sporting events held on the day was also expanded over the years to include horse racing, tree climbing, lawn bowling and other competitions where participants could win prizes of silver, porcelain, and even jewellery. This aspect of the festival is said to have to so impressed visiting Greek delegates that it became the inspiration of the Zappas Olympics, the global sporting event we know today as the Olympic Games. The festival was later used as a tool for sharing the values and wonder of Bavarian culture with a particular emphasis on its fashion, food, and of course excellent beer craft What Qualifies as German Festival Beer? One of the cornerstones of the Munich Oktoberfest is the adherence to the Reinheitsgebot which translates as ‘purity order’. Given that the festival was a platform by which to evangelise the quality of the traditional German beer the 1516 Bavarian Law outlined not only the requirements for which beers may be sold at the festival but also its price and the penalty for any transgressions. In short, the order stated that: Festival beer may only be made from barley, hops and water – this allowed them to stop the inclusion of problematic herbs like belladonna, henbane and stinging nettle while not impact the local cost of bread production which required wheat and rye. Any person caught selling non-regulation beers would have their entire stash confiscated as a matter of law The sale price per litre was established as either one or two Pfennig, region dependant, with tavern owners allowed to only increase the price by one third when reselling beer to “the common peasantry”. Adjustments have been made to the modern Reinheitsgebot to allow for the inclusion of grains and organic products to aid in fermentation. That being said only beer following the modernised order and brewed within Munich will be served during the official Munich Oktoberfest. There are only six breweries who have the approval to produce and label their beers as official ‘Oktoberfest Beer’, and these are: Augustiner-Bräu Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu Löwenbräu Paulaner Spatenbräu Staatliches Hofbräu-München Thankfully for beer aficionados, these companies do ship their beers internationally, allowing you to savour each festival’s selection beers without having to leave the comfort of your home. A Celebration in Honour of Unification One of the oddities of the Oktoberfest is that despite its name, it is now held from mid to late September to the early part of October. This is done to celebrate the historic reunification of East and West Germany which took place in 1990 after 45 years of segregation. While the festival would historically run until the first Sunday in October it now runs until German Unity Day which is 3 October, to remind Germany and the world of hope and that we are all stronger when we stand with rather than against one another. What is Oide Wiesn? For the uninitiated, there is often some confusion what d’Wiesn and Oide Wiesn are, especially given that they run over the same time period and both take place on the same fairgrounds. In simple terms, Oide Wiesn is a return to the roots of what d’Wiesn was always meant to be, a more relaxed, tradition-driven, beer garden styled festival. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the festival 2010 saw a once-off Historisches Oktoberfest (Historical Oktoberfest) erected as a showcase of “the good old days”. However, it was such a hit with festival-goers that they demanded it to be installed into the event each year. This area of the festival offers visitors beers not covered in company logos, traditional unamplified music, retro entertainment such as chain swings, petting zoos and even the simple sugary enjoyment of cotton candy. The Oide Wiesn also closes for the day at 8pm, allowing it's more family orientated supporters to make their way home before the more frenetic partying of the Wiesn gets into full swing. Oktoberfest Themed video slots With the travel bans which are currently in place you can celebrate the Oktoberfest at home by trying some of your locally available German beers and cuisine. If you prefer to stay socially distanced, we have selected three fantastic slot machines loaded with Oktoberfest themes and imagery which will keep you entertained. ✓Lucky Oktoberfest by Red Tiger Red Tiger brings you one of the best slots for Wiesn fans in Lucky Oktoberfest. The game opens with two beer steins clinking and foam flying as the band strikes up a merry tune. Lucky Oktoberfest slot offers high variance entertainment across 5-reels and 10 fixed ways to win with an RTP of 94.68%. The reason for this the fact that the pays out up to 5000x your bet and offers a maximum stake of €20 for a jackpot potential of €100,000! The reels are filled with classic German beer festival imagery including feathered hats, beer barrels, pretzels and two locals named Hans and Helga. Get spinning today to get in on the action. ✓Heidi at the Oktoberfest by Red Rake Gaming Red Rake Gaming invites you to enjoy the sights and sounds of their Heidi at the Oktoberfest online slot. The gorgeous blonde local will be your host and serve up winning spins as you enjoy the ambient sounds of the festival. This medium variance video slot is played across 5 reels and 50 fixed ways to win offering at RTP of 94.9%. Collecting Heidi symbols on the reels will put you in position to claim up to 200 Free Spins and the chance to claim the slot machines maximum payout of €100,000. Each new spin of the reels will see the screen fill with beer steins, accordions, beer kegs, pretzels and of course the lovely Heidi as you enjoy all that Red Rake Gaming has to offer. ✓Oktoberfest Spins by 888 Gaming Get into the festival spirit with 888 Gaming and Oktoberfest Spins video slot. The slot will have you cheering for jackpot wins as you enjoy the ambient sounds and rousing music of a traditional Munich Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest Spins is a medium to high variance online slot that unfolds across 5 reels and 25 fixed ways to win. The game offers players the added excitement of a randomly triggered progressive jackpot which requires no special symbols combinations to unlock, just pure chance. It also offers the chance of a free ‘Refill’ spin on any non-winning game you play. To complete your Oktoberfest experience the reels are filled with beer stein’s, bottled beers, pretzels, German sausages and a cheeky Daschund who triggers the bonus game that offers win multipliers of up to 33x!
  7. The online gambling world is a massive industry worldwide and probably one of the most competitive digital markets around. With tons of content released each year at online gambling sites, picking a game as a new player can soon become an overwhelming task. Of course, some of the more prominent industry leaders tend to set the trends, but with the advances in technology of late, even the smaller companies can punch way above their weight. Every now and then, one gaming studio pushes the envelope just that little bit further than their competitors to introduce a game that stands a class apart from the rest. These innovative marvels demand royal mention and their providers deserve praise. It is here that the industry’s gaming awards associations play their part in giving credit, where it is due. Industry Instigators The three foremost gaming awards organisations in the iGaming market are the EGR (eGaming Review) Awards, the IGA (International Gaming Awards), and the Global Gaming Awards (GGA). Should a game provider or casino operator walk away with an acknowledgement of excellence from any of these icons, you can assume that they have dared to venture into the realms of cutting-edge development, service, and innovation. Remembering the Remarkable In an attempt to remember the best entertainment the online casino industry has brought our way, we’ve gathered a list of the most remarkable award-winning games to feature on our desktops and mobile phones in the past 20 years. The following games have proven to be leaders in their time, many of which have received legendary status in the industry and are still widely played today. ✓ King Kong Cash by Atronic (IGA Slot Game of 2008) King Kong Cash deserves an honourable mention here. The game was a VLT phenomenon that boasted new and innovative concepts within the branded slot genre. It was trendy on European casino floors thanks to its 4-level progressive jackpot and a free spin round that were based off scenes from the iconic 2005 King Kong movie. While Altonic no longer exists, their legacy was carried on by GTECH, which is now an IGT subsidiary. ✓ Book of Ra by Novamatic (IGA Slot Game of 2009) This Egyptian-themed game is probably the most popular title of its genre. It has inspired so many copycat versions over the years, such as Book of Dead by Play’n GO. Even so, players keep flocking back to the original. It won its award based off the back of its fabulous Scatter/Wild symbol, which when triggering the free spin bonus, selects a random symbol to become a special expanding icon for that feature round. Each time a symbol lands on the reels and can complete a winning combo, it will expand to cover its reel, thereby providing more winning chances. Combine that bonus round with a Gamble Feature, and Scatter wins, and you have a recipe for success. ✓ Big Bad Wolf by Quickspin (EGR Game of the Year 2013) Quickspin rose to the occasion in 2013 with this title. It has since become their flagship game, having won the EGR award based on the fantastic visual design and animated involvement from the characters on screen. It truly is a stunning sight. Based on the story of the Three Little Pigs, this title offers a flurry of features, including Big Bad Wolf Free Spins, where the K-9 foe attempts to blow down your house. Most notable, however, is the cascading/tumbling reel feature after every win. While many slots use this mechanic today, it was a new concept back in 2013. ✓ Immersive Roulette by Evolution Gaming (EGR Game of the Year 2014) Live Dealer casino games only gained traction around 2009, with the growing momentum of Evolution Gaming. The introduction of Immersive Roulette celebrates one of their award-winning milestones, and it has redefined the immersive quality and innovation of Live Casino games forever. Unlike their other standard Roulette game versions at the time, this one uses multiple close-up camera angles to immerse the player into every action taking place in a single game round. This was an innovative feature unheard of in the gaming world at the time. Not only is each movement captured, but it is rendered in High Definition for the clearest shots around. ✓ Spinata Grande by NetEnt (EGR Game of the Year 2015) NetEnt needs no introduction to online casino gaming enthusiasts. This beautiful Mexican-themed game got the attention of millions of players around the globe in 2015 and continues to thrill gamblers today. The awesome soundtracks, effects, and animations are very engaging. It truly feels like you are standing on a dusty road in a Mexican village playing for money. The dogs barking, passers-by whistling, sounds of pick-up trucks driving by, and the guitar playing the distance are fully immersive Of course, true to NetEnt’s style, the visuals are not the only award-worthy detail. The features are harnessing too. These include Colossal Symbol wins, a Mini-Slot feature, and Free Spins. Just like a pinata, this game contains many surprises when opened. ✓ Jurassic Park by Microgaming (GGA Digital Product of the Year 2015) The Steven Spielberg movie is a cult classic that has driven the franchise to produce a series of great films based on its storyline. Trust Microgaming to bring it alive on the gambling screen and scoop up the accolades at the same time! All your favourite cast members and dinosaurs are available in full view for you to see. You can relive the cinematics of the movie through the energetic soundtrack and vivid visuals presented in the game. As you play, the screen moves through the forest in search of wild and dangerous sights with winning combo animations bringing each dinosaur alive. The game is no slouch in the bonus game department either, which may have been a real catalyst in the decision-making process for the award. There are 5 distinct free spin rounds based on 5 different dinosaurs from the movie. They all provide free games with different add-on modifiers, such as Wild Reels, Multiplier Wilds, Running Wilds, Mystery Multipliers, and Winning Wilds. Welcome to Jurassic Park! ✓ Guns ‘n Roses by NetEnt (EGR Game of the Year 2016) Arguably one of the best rock bands in history is immortalised on the reels of this slot by NetEnt. Yes, there are tremendous features when playing Guns ‘n Roses, such as Appetite for Destruction Wilds, Legend Spins, Solo Multiplier, Encore Free Spins, and a Crowd Pleaser Bonus. But we all know why this game won the game of the year award in 2016 – BECAUSE THE SOUNDTRACK ROCKS! Set before a stage, while you roll the reels, you can select one of 5 of the band’s best songs to play along with you. Once a track is done, and your foot tapping has warmed up, or your air guitar is in tune, you can select another song to rock along to. You simply won’t want to stop playing until you have heard all the jams. Enjoy songs like Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child of Mine, Paradise City, November Rain, and Chinese Democracy. Here is one hint if you are going to give it a go – wear headphones and crank up the volume! ✓ Wild Toro by ELK Studios (EGR Game of the Year 2017) Elk Studios turns the brutal sport of bullfighting on its head in this humorous and quirky slot game. That’s right, in this game the bull always wins, which is probably why it has so many fans and walked away with the game of the year award only 3 years ago. Designed with real Spanish flavour, the game transports you across Europe to enjoy the bull defeat the matador in a flurry of features. These include Walking Wilds, Extra Wilds, and bonus Re-spins of the reels. The mix of authentic sounds and visuals combined with a great maths model and feature selection made this game the winning contender in its class and a firm favourite in the Elk Studios library to this day. ✓ Lighting Roulette by Evolution Gaming (EGR Game of the Year 2018) Innovations in Live Dealer gaming has dominated the online industry in the last few years. Lightning Roulette has seen great success since its introduction to the market because it combines the table gaming world with RNG jackpot entertainment. No longer is 35:1 the best reward for a straight-up bet. If the lightning selects the winning number prior to the spin, and your chips are in place, you could be looking at rewards of between 50x and 500x your stake in prizes. This unique concept is a crowd favourite, earning it the game award by EGR in 2018. ✓ Monopoly Live by Evolution Gaming (IGA Game of the Year 2020) Everyone’s favourite Hasbro board game, Monopoly, came to the Live Casino world thanks to a partnership between the game maker and Evolution Gaming. The new gambling variant is a remake of the famous Dreamcatcher wheel game with unique Monopoly game elements. This innovation combines the two worlds of live game action and augmented reality to produce something that players had never seen before. It is evident by Evolution’s actions, that boldness and chance-taking can lead to significant payoffs, as this game scooped up the International Gaming Award in 2020. Ponder the Pedigree For the ultimate in online casino action, we recommend that you revisit some of these iconic game selections to remind yourself of what true ingenuity and quality is like on the market. Feel free to play some of these titles at one of our Gambler’s Pick partner casinos for a safe and secure gaming experience.
  8. Every year, on the fourth Saturday in July, the National Day of the Cowboy is celebrated in the United States. It seems somehow fitting that the same month the USA observes its Independence, it recognises this stoic, hardworking symbol of the American West – a true icon of Americana! Who are the Cowboys? While cowboys were effectively ‘ranch hands’ in the real Old West, their journeys on the prairies while running cattle drives came with much-associated adventure, which has been romanticised for nearly two centuries in books, films, and games. Thanks to these works of fiction, just about any horse-riding stranger with a gun in the Wild West is affectionately referred to as a cowboy. The idea of ‘cowboys’ seemed to evolve massively from their farming status to that of gun-wielding, Stetson-wearing, posse forming, outlaw fighting heroes. So, despite the entire sub-culture of post-civil war society being identified as cowboys, the purest definition of the word actually refers to someone who herds cattle on horseback. History of the Cowboy The era of cattle drives that we have all read about or seen on TV, found commonplace in states like Texas just prior to and after the American Civil War in the mid-19th Century. The cattle business began to boom, and cowboys would traditionally run the herds to where the money was. The Wild West was just that – Wild. Cattle ranches were not often fenced in like they are today, and it was commonly accepted by ranchers that other farmers would move their cattle through their territories. The rugged terrain and potential threats from wildlife, such as bears, wolves, and cougars, meant that traditional cowboys were hardened outdoorsmen and notable survivors. The iconic cowboy, however, traces back a little further than the Civil War, finding his origin in Spain. In fact, the term ‘cowboy’ comes from the Spanish word ‘vaquero’, which is derived from the root word ‘vaca’ meaning ‘cow’. The iconic figure on horseback with hat, spurs, and a lasso were traditionally borrowed from Mexico, who had strong Spanish influence embedded in their culture. The first time the term ‘cowboy’ was used in written form, was by author Jonathan Swift in 1725, but the intended use of the word was to describe the work of a young boy who tended cows. Later, Western literature caused the cowboy to evolve into a rugged, masculine, horseback adventurer. The Wild West has re-defined these figures for us a lot, as most of the stories we have heard about cowboys in books and films have truly little to do with animal husbandry. True cowboys still exist in cattle herding states and regions in America and Canada. Every year, these true heroes, both male and female, get to strut their stuff in horse and cattle-based sports events, called rodeos. These events still find big followings in the cattle states, like Texas, Montana, and Alberta (Canada), and help keep the rugged image of the Wild West alive. Cowboy Books and Literature As mentioned before, much of what we have come to know about cowboys has been defined by the books we have read and the movies we have watched. Some of the earliest Western literature came about in the earlier parts of the 19th Century, during the very age being written about. People, like James Fenima Cooper, told stories of the American frontier, in settings like the Appalachian Mountains and the areas West thereof. The Leatherstocking Tales are a great example of this early fictional work. Between 1850 and 1900 the ‘Western’ truly established itself as a specialised genre. Many of these sorts of tales were published as “Pennydreadfuls” or later as “Dime Novels”, a book-style named after the cheap nature in which they were made. These hugely successful books were one of the main reasons that cowboys are now so readily associated with the image of mountain-men, outlaws, and lawmen of the Western Frontier. These novels would fictionalise stories around the lives of real men living at the time, such as Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holiday. Many of these characters are household names as a result of the tales told about them. By 1900, the Western genre of books had picked up a great following and was even adopted by foreign writers. At this time, some of the stories began to spread eastwards across the globe thanks to a new medium of literature, called Pulp Magazines. The popular ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ series of stories by Clarence Mulford appeared in 1904 in this form, as well as in dime novel format. Progression into the 20th Century saw many evolutions in writing style, including the genre’s move to the comic scene. Both Marvel and DC climbed on the bandwagon from around 1948 and 1951 respectively, releasing stories such as Kid Colt Outlaw (Marvel) and All-Star Western (DC). Other Western-styled comics were published by Charlton Comics, Prize Comics, Fawcett Comics, and others. It was around the 1950s that some of the top novels made it to the silver screen. Jack Shaeffer’s 1949 novel, “Shane” was one such story that made it to film in 1953. Between the ‘70s and 2000s, Western Fiction dropped in popularity – mostly because film superseded written media. The only sub-genre that managed to stay its course were Adult-Rated Westerns, which are known for their explicit sexual content. Cowboys of the Movie World Westerns were recognised as one of the most popular film genres in the mid-20th Century. In fact, such movies were already well attended throughout the 1930s. John Ford’s “Stagecoach” thrust now renowned actor, John Wayne, onto the Hollywood scene, making him a mainstream movie star. He became the quintessential face behind the Western Genre at that time and will live long in the hearts of your grandmothers. A string of popular and iconic Western films ran through the ‘50s era, earmarking that period of movie history as the Golden Age of the Western. Some of the renowned titles included Broken (1950), High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), and Wichita (1955) to name a few. The cowboy craze spread to the 1960s with titles such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The ‘60s saw the introduction of a new cult hero for the cowboy/western genre – Clint Eastwood. Known as ‘The Man with No Name’, this seldom speaking, tough stranger, and nightmare to outlaws, would headline a string of Spaghetti Westerns called the Dollars Trilogy. The recognisable character in the brown poncho and hat, sucking on cigarillos and having little to nothing to say catapulted Eastwood to fame with A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Over the years, many cowboy Westerns have stolen the hearts of moviegoers. More recently, the 1990s made us fall in love with Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, and Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and Keffer Sutherland in Young Guns I & II. Even the comedy genius of the 1999 Steampunk Western - Wild, Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline will leave a long-lasting stamp on our memory. Almost all the above-mentioned stories had the same root of genetics running through their veins – Masculine Gunslinging types on horses whipping the butts of the baddies and riding off into the sunset to live another day. These stories sold tickets and did a tremendous amount of work for romanticising the American Frontier. It placed the cowboy firmly as a patriotic symbol of American pride. Western Slots and Pokies Just about every worthwhile genre or theme will find its way onto the gaming scene at some point or another and may even trickle through to the online casino world. Let’s face it, the type of adventure that Cowboys and Westerns exude makes for some great game features and bonus rounds. It’s for that very reason that many of the top gaming studios in the online casino market have ventured to re-tell some of the best Western Stories over the reels in good ol’ slot fashion. While a myriad of games can be found online with an American Frontier theme attached to them, whether it be the Wildlife theme, Gold Digging tales, or plain old Cowboy high jinks only a few stand out. Recent recollection would highlight games like Sticky Bandits by Quickspin or Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2 by NetEnt. ✓ Sticky Bandits Quickspin’s 2017 Sticky Bandits tells the tale of Railway Bandits over 5 reels and 30 paylines. The simple visuals yet apt soundtrack provide a real sense of the Old West on the screen. Massive Sticky Wilds are the stand-out feature n the game, but a standard free spin round provides you with suitable action to your bankroll. ✓ Dead or Alive NetEnt are the true masters of the slot world. They are known for their ability to make a theme come alive through top graphics, sounds, and engaging features. Dead or Alive was released in 2013 and became the most popular Western-themed game by far. Its high variance and massive max win drew crowds. The typical dusty ranch visuals are complimented by some apt western-classic sounds. There is no meaningless meandering tumbleweed in this game though, each feature is well-placed for the ultimate entertainment experience. It may only be played over 9 paylines, but Dead or Alive provides several winning ways, dominated mainly by the Sticky Wild wanted poster Wilds and a host of Free Spins. ✓ Dead or Alive 2 Just when you think NetEnt has outdone themselves with the original Dead or Alive game, they provide an even more volatile option in 2019. Not only was the math model changed, but the maximum win peaks at over 100,000x your stake. Instead of one free spin feature, there are three up for grabs in the game. It could literally turn you into a millionaire if the way of the West is with you. A dusty Western Main Street forms the scene for the action. Here, the game maker even allows you to shoot selected items on the screen between spins – just for the heck of it! The game headlines some of the worst cowboy outlaws the genre has ever seen, such as Apache the Kid, Billie the Kid, Belle Star, Jesse James, and Della Rose. Wrangling Roundup The Wild West will live on for a long time still and it is on days like this when we must tip our hats to the impact that the era has had on our entertainment. It has followed mankind for over two hundred years and shows no sign of dying yet. Still today, the cowboys attend the cattle and compete in Rodeos throughout the ranch lands of North America. Even if the Cowboy genre has petered out on paper and the big screen for a while, it will most certainly still be around on the reels for a long time, so make sure you play your favourite Western at a Gambler’s Pick partner casino, today!
  9. The humble video game is a fond friend for most adults in the world. It was how we went on adventures to splendid new worlds, learned about our preferences in life – battle lines were drawn over whether to play Halo, FIFA, Final Fantasy or Need for Speed – and more recently determined your career choices in life. In recent years gaming has evolved from something children are allowed to do in order to give their parents a break to a multi-billion Euro industry that creates opportunities for coders, designers, musical score producers and marketing executives. However it is not only corporate entities who are benefiting from gaming as streamers on platforms like Twitch, Facebook and YouTube and eSports professionals, who compete for massive cash prizes, have created a whole new career niche around gaming. The Nerdy History of the First Video Game Any discussions of video games will have older generations wistfully remembering their Atari video game system, which comprised almost solely of Pong, or perhaps the more beloved Nintendo system. The reality, however, is that the first commercially available video game was produced by a physicist named William Higinbotham back in October 1958. As the head of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s instrumentation group, he felt it was his job to ensure their annual open day was exciting for the visitors. He came up with the idea for a tennis game which would allow the event’s guests to have an interactive experience. Using his experience with radar systems Higinbotham conceptualised and built the first tennis video game, Tennis for Two, in less than two weeks. The game was a smash hit with long lines of players, later he would say of the launch title: “It never occurred to me that I was doing anything very exciting. The long line of people I thought was not because this was so great but because all the rest of the things were so dull” Despite being an early adopter of what would one day become one of the world’s largest and most profitable industries Higinbotham never made any money from his game, nor could he since he was a Federal employee and any patents he submitted would have become government property. Early Consoles & Vintage Game Collecting The early 1970s would see standing arcade games become a fixture of shops and arcades where youth would congregate and spend the money they had begged from their parents or earned doing chores but nothing lit a fire under gamers like the chance to own your gaming console. These early consoles presented some challenges of their own: The Magnavox, Nintendo and Atari consoles of the 70s ranged in price from $75 up to $199, in present terms this is from $400 up to $750. By the late 70s, only 15 million households owned a television set in the US, which was a requirement for playing video game consoles. Even then it was only one set which meant gaming had to wait till the family wasn’t using it. If you were lucky enough to get a console and had a television to play it on the average game would cost around $40 which equates to about $140 today. It is worth keeping in mind that the minimum wage in the 1970s was less than $2 per hour, making putting these kinds of entertainment expenses out of reach for the many middle to lower class families. Rather than bury these classic games in the annals of history these fond memories, often of renting the games or playing at a friend’s house, has led to a rabid vintage game collecting market where boxed, or near mint condition, Nintendo, Magnavox, Atari, Coleco Vision and Mattel’s Intellivision systems are bought for a premium. The games themselves are where the real value lies with some really bad games, also knowns as lemons, which sold poorly during their heyday now being worth small fortunes due to scarcity. Here are just some of the crazy price ranges these retro games can ask: Stadium Events (1987) by Bandai – up to $40,000 Air Raid (1984) by Atari – up to $34,000 Gold Nintendo World Championships (1990) – up to $30,000 There are also stories of games which plummeted in value as their scarcity evaporated. One such game is Atari’s E.T. which was a terrible game and sold so poorly that thousands of copies were destroyed. This resulted in the copies which remained reaching prices of up to $37,000 on eBay. However, a 2014 dig discovered nearly 800,000 copies of E.T. in a landfill. The sudden flood of copies onto the market saw the value of the game drop to as low as $5! The eSports Evolution From the 1980s to the present day many original consoles fell away leaving us with the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch as the only names in console gaming. These systems are far more complex delivering gorgeous 3D graphics and finger-twisting gameplay with some systems offering the option to live out your favourite new adventure in 4K! It is not only the systems that have evolved but also why people play games. Far from a childish pursuit, the advent of competitive gaming events has given rise to a multi-billion Euro competitive eSports industry comprised of both team and individual competitions. The prize money available to this burgeoning competitive sector is astounding: Dota 2 – prize pool of more than $200 million CS:GO – prize pool of more than $87 million Fortnite – prize pool of more than $84 million League of Legends – prize pool of more than $70 million Starcraft 2 – prize pool of more than $30 million While the competitive scene draws a lot of attention when it comes to making money a lesser-known component of the industry is live streaming. A former MLG National Champion and now Warzone streamer, Nick Mercs, recently crossed the 50,000 subscriber mark on his Twitch channel. Twitch charges a minimum of $4.99 per month per subscription, at the minimum split of 50% this means Nick is earning at least $125,000 per month, this figure excludes in-app advertising by big brands, sponsorships, tips (which are called Bits in the Twitch ecosystem) and the sales of his own MFAM branded merchandise. If gaming isn’t your forte but betting is there is a growing eSports betting market where bookmakers like Betway offer odds on the outcomes of various international gaming events. Whichever way you look at it, eSports is on the rise and the money will follow. Growth of Mobile Gaming When the first mobile phone launched it revolutionised how we communicated around the world, what no one foresaw was that these “phones” would evolve into powerful handheld gaming devices. With improved processing power, massive SSD hard drives and picture-perfect 4K displays the mobile phone has become a global mobile gaming playground worth more than $60 billion! Initially, mobile gaming was limited to popular free to play gaming titles like Candy Crush Saga, which generated revenue, not through game sales but microtransactions which allowed the player to bypass delays and timers to keep them in the game. At its peak, the game was reported to make $1 million a day from these small in-game purchases. The Nintendo owned Pokémon GO augmented reality game rocked the mobile gaming market to its core when it skyrocketed up the charts in 2016. By late 2019 the game had already generated more than $3 billion in revenue from in-app microtransactions boasting more than 147 million active monthly players. Since then all major studios have been working tirelessly on their market capitalisation strategy with eSports titles all offering if not their core game on mobile, then at least a standalone game featuring the characters and lore from their main game, as a way to attract this spend happy market sector. Gaming’s Impact on Casino Game Development Gaming has had an impact on the casino games we enjoy today in terms of technology, design and branded crossovers: ✓Mobile Technology: The online casino game development experts have always been at the cutting edge of any new technology and customer experience requirement. In 2004, long before other markets considered the mobile device a valid gaming platform Microgaming launched the first mobile casino. They would also go on to release the first slot for use with a smartwatch, while the technology never really grabbed mainstream appeal like mobile gaming it showed their commitment to offering players gaming whenever and wherever they wanted it. ✓Design and Gameplay: More recently we saw mobile gaming impact the way in which online slot-type games played out on screen. Puzzle games like Candy Crush and Montezuma which featured exploding symbols and non-standard reels heavily influenced games like Gonzo’s Quest and Finn and The Swirly Spin. Visually there was a move away from a more realistic art style to oversized brightly coloured icons with the inclusion of pops and explosions to emulate the onscreen “excitement” found in so many casual game titles on mobile. ✓Nostalgia Hooks: There are a number of Online Slots which lean into our nostalgia for retro gaming. Games like Hellcatraz do this purely through their visual design and layout, the faux 16-bit graphics and vertical scale being reminiscent of the 1986 arcade classic Rampage. However, 2020 saw NetEnt release an official Street Fighter II: The World Warrior video slot featuring the full suite of fighters, a reel set emulating the game screen including fighter specific locations, the original soundtrack and in-game sound effects. They even went so far as to include mini-games from the arcade game like vehicle destruction! Celebrating Video Game Day Whether you're an avid gamer or haven't really picked up a controller in years why not join us in celebrating Video Game Day by loading up your favourite game and taking a moment to remember how many great adventures you've had over the years.
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