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Server Based Online Gambling

Server-Based Casino Gaming, Then and Now

Prior to the development of server-based technology, the advent of video slots that replaced the lever-operated three-reel machines was more than enough to make slot gaming at casinos truly enjoyable. The additional betting features and colorful graphics made recreational gambling more exciting, while the push-button mechanism of the new machinery is far more convenient.

Yet casino operators found it difficult to meet the increasing demand for slot gaming, since each electronic machine had only one game to offer. If a customer wanted to play with another type of slot game, he had to wait until the player at the other video slot machine decided to quit. Some players even preferred to go to other casinos to try out different brands of slot games, especially if a larger jackpot was at stake.

Back then, casino operators relied on the games developed by their registered supplier, while the matter of changing the built in game, required the manual replacement of computer chips. The process entailed long periods of downtime and loss of potential revenues.

The Introduction of Server-Based Technology   

During the Las Vegas Global Gaming Expo held in 2005, Alliance Gaming demonstrated the initial concept of another new technology called server-based gaming. The demo showed how a central unit called a back-office server, was capable of serving or deploying varying video slot programs to every slot machine terminal connected to its system.

By way of virtual connection called Local Area Network (LAN), server-based gaming will make it possible for casino customers to stay at one machine terminal and simply select a slot game from the menu provided by the server. Players can change games in an instant and even try all the selection of slot games offered by the casino. However, it was important that the central system had control over the critical components, such as the game logic and the random number generator, to prevent any form of game tampering by unscrupulous players.

News about the latest technology created a flurry of excitement among the members of the casino industry. The innovation meant giving casino operators a wider-range of gaming selections to offer their customers; but without the need to invest on more single-game electronic slot machines or suffer from revenue decline brought about by long periods of downtime. Updates for new games and modifications of currency denominations for all slot machines would take effect instantly, as the process merely required changing the program of the central system of the back-office server.

The Need for Further Development          

The full development of the technology for the server-based concept did not materialize soon enough. The leading manufacturers of slot machines realized that the matter of linking games to a single server still do not pose as the ultimate solution. Most casino operators wanted the freedom to choose games that they believe customers would look for, even if it meant buying from other suppliers.

Moreover, the server-based gaming system can only move forward if state regulators will allow it. Otherwise, manufacturers will have to deal with a prolonged development cycle and incur higher costs, before they can obtain the state gaming board’s approval. Such conditions, could affect their ability to offer competitive prices to their casino clients and make them less confident about the viability of their casino games.

Shortly after the 2005 announcement about the latest in gaming technology, four of the leading slot machine manufacturers, namely Aristocrat, Bally Technologies, International Game Technology (IGT), and WMS arrived at a conclusion that cooperation between slot machine manufacturing companies is vital.

Finding the Solution

What they needed to have is a set of standards and procedures that would allow them to develop a server-based gaming system that has the ability to interact with other units. Information technology was fast becoming the best tool to use in order to custom fit products according to consumer preferences. Server-based gaming therefore could be more than just providing a variety of games instantaneously, but also a way for casino operators and manufacturers to know more about the gaming inclinations of end-users.

Instead of aiming for the creation of proprietary products, the four major suppliers agreed to adhere to the standards instituted by the Gaming Standards Association (GSA). This then, made it possible for manufacturers to compete on an even keel and at the same devise more ways to enhance the gaming experience of casino gamers.

The Trial Period and the Beginnings of Online Gambling 

By 2006, progressive jackpots became bigger as the server-based gaming system went on trial in some casinos in Nevada and California. The availability of Internet connections in households likewise spelled further developments to allow wider area coverage that spanned geographical locations. Many were actually getting interested on web-based casinos for their recreational gambling activities.

Thereafter, the casino industry saw the proliferation of numerous innovations in server-based games. Group play became a reality, and this provided the foundation for gaming applications that permitted casino operators to hold all sorts of casino game tournaments. Casinos became more than just gambling joints, but also posed as social gaming venues where customers interact and vie to win fabulous prizes in the form of cash or luxury items.

Back-office systems that gathered information about customers’ past gaming activities became useful tools in maintaining and increasing a casino’s customer base. Operators gave out loyalty points for every game played, for which regular patrons eventually earned credits that gave them additional playing time and increased chances of winning.


The Limitation of Server-Based Gaming in the U.S.

Unfortunately, U.S. lawmakers passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act in 2006, which somehow stifled the growth of online gambling industry in the country. In contrast, other territories like the United Kingdom and some Canadian provinces formed regulatory bodies to oversee the rapidly increasing number of websites offering Internet gambling facilities.

In 2009, IGT installed the first fully developed server-based technology at the ARIA Resort and Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas. The launching gave a signal that the long wait was over for many casino operators. However, it was the same year when the U.S. federal authorities launched a crackdown on Internet gambling sites. The incidents that followed prompted many online casino software developers to market their server-based technology in other countries, where gambling via the Internet was lawful.

As the turn of events unfolded, the States of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey had enacted state laws that permit Internet wagering operations within their respective jurisdiction. Server-based gaming system will make it possible for casinos to deploy the allowed wagering games across their territories and to those of the compacting states.