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ICS, Innoco and Other Highlights of World Gaming 2020

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LAS VEGAS – Now that World Gaming 2000 (Oct 18-20) in Las Vegas is officially a wrap, here’s a quick summary of expo gossip and happenings, as they relate to Internet gambling.

The big news is that everyone is preparing for the glitz-and-mortar casinos (read “Vegas”) to emerge on the internet. To prep themselves for the brave new world, a number of software vendors are jockeying to become the apple in the eye of the Vegas big-boys. For example, Interactive Solutions Corporation, headed by Anthony Geisler (CEO), is capitalizing on expertise acquired in building and selling a JAVA-based gaming system. At this point they haven’t signed any licensees for their new, high-end download package which they expect to launch 1st-Quarter 2001. What I saw at the show looked great but the buzz is that they’re trolling for the big Vegas fish so it could be a while before we’re downloading the final package.

On the portal front, Casino.com is undergoing a big overhaul in order to re-invent themselves as the site for general gambling information, and no longer strictly a Boss Media marketing tool. Henrik Nilsson, Editor in Chief of the new enterprise, promises the same high standards we’ve seen from the Boss Media/Casino.com team in the past.

Access Gaming Systems –software providers to Lasseter’s, Tattersall’s and AusVegas– has started licensing a Game Development Kit (GDK) to third party developers. Access’ GDK will allow its users to build new games and game interfaces to run on the Access core package. This open-architecture approach should see Access’ casino licensees offering an unprecedented variety of wagering games as GDK licensees develop and release their own creations. After passing extensive government certification processes, Access is the sole provider of 789betting download games to casino licensees in Australia. It’s up to the individual Access licensees to decide whether they’ll take US wagers or not.

Further on the Australian front, Gaming & Entertainment Technologies (GET) demonstrated their no-download games that recently debuted at Wrest Point Casino. As the first government certified JAVA-based online gaming system GET is set to make its big move into the regulated Australian market. Unlike Access, GET won’t be offering a GDK and pointedly restricts its licensees from accepting US bets. While GET has new features in the pipe –notably multi-player games and chat– the government certification process does slow the process down. This explains why the Australian software providers are a little sluggish when it comes to delivering cutting edge features.

Newcomers to the online gaming scene were too numerous to shake a stick at, but a few caught my attention. Internet Global Management (IGM) has a product they call Casino Avatar that goes for the 3D look-and-feel. Think Tomb Raider meets Vegas. It’s a novel approach and they’re taking it everywhere: airlines, trains, you name it. You can see their online product at Avatar Casino.

Betware.com is one of the many companies from Northern Europe and Scandinavia making the move into the global market. Offering fast-play no-download games, Betware is busy expanding into the sportsbook and WAP arenas, though they’ve found that WAP has been slow to catch on. “Who wants to sit there and press all those little buttons,” said a company rep. “I wouldn’t.” Others aren’t quite so bearish on WAP’s future. The aforementioned IGM, for example, is launching a handful of WAP betting sites. “WAP will be huge,” said Jennifer Weir, IGM’s Vice-Prez.

One of my personal favorites, INNOCO –headquartered in San Jose with R&D; facilities in Seoul, Korea– are just completing a total revamp of their games system. The previous games –as seen at Maverick’s Casino, Pacific-Vegas Casino, Rated Player Casino, and Virtual Fortuna– came in a download package and provided some of the best play action I’ve seen. The new games will come in both Flash and Shockwave without sacrificing the user interface I liked so much. They’ve also developed a games package they can deliver through hotel TVs and the like. Expect good things from this hard-working team.

So, a summary in fifty words or less? Vegas’s move into the online gambling space is inevitable; multi-player and chat are hot; both download and no-download are here to stay; Flash and Shockwave games have arrived; expect a wider variety of casino game providers; the Australians clearly lead the pack in terms of certification and regulation; and everyone expects the US lawmakers to see the light and regulate rather than outlaw online gaming. Ba-bing!