Founded in 1999, Playtech was number one on the revenue charts until Amaya’s purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in July 2014.
Playtech are best known for running the massive iPoker network, but they also power 500+ casino games. This article will delve deeper into their casino offerings, and reveal the best Playtech online casinos.
Playtech were founded by a small group of entrepreneurs in Tartu, Estonia, led by the enigmatic Teddy Sagi. In 2001 the company gained a casino licence, and began software development. Very soon they were producing software for table games, poker and bingo. In 2002 they powered the first European land-based casino to go online.
The company was floated on the LSE in early 2006. The valuation of the company was an eye-watering £550 million. Playtech went on an asset spending spree in 2010 as it strengthened its market position. Among its purchases were the games aggregator GTS and the UK’s leading bingo provider, Virtue Fusion. It also bought casino games creator Ash Gaming, management systems company Intelligent Gaming, and marketing experts PTTS.
In October 2014 Playtech moved into the lotteries business with the purchase of Aristocrat Technologies’ lottery division.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Playtech though. In early 2015 several Playtech-powered casino sites announced they were leaving the German gambling market due to confusion over Germany’s recent changes to its online gambling legislation. In addition, a few dozen Playtech-powered casino sites began to be blacklisted by leading independent casino review sites for imposing strict withdrawals limits on their players, even when players won life-changing amounts of cash worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The restrictions were seen as a ‘cute’ way of persuading players to accept reduced winnings in return for their being able to get their hands on their cash in one go.
Playtech expanded its portfolio again in early 2015 when it acquired YoYo Games for $16.4 million. YoYo were a Dundee-based company responsible for the creation of the Gamemaker multi-platform game development IDE.
As of the beginning of 2015, Playtech employs around 3,500 people across ten different countries, and has an operating income close to €160 million.
Playtech is currently responsible for the creation of over 500 casino games. The company’s games have a sturdy reputation for playability, reliability and fairness. They make table games, poker, bingo, live games, sports betting, binary options and social games across multiple platforms. They’re also responsible for some of the internet’s most popular online slots, such as Iron Man 3, Monty Python’s Spamalot and Gladiator.
Among the most fancied Playtech games are their live versions of roulette, blackjack and baccarat, which boast a slick interface and permit interaction with the croupiers. Other popular slots from Playtech include Little Britain, which is based on the UK comedy sketch show that made stars out of David Walliams and Matt Lucas, and the quirky Funky Fruits Farm, with its juicy x33 prize multipliers.
Playtech offers a six-deck version of baccarat with a number of sidebets, eight versions of blackjack (all of which, bar ‘Lucky Blackjack’, have RTPs higher than 99 percent), and a dozen versions of roulette.
One interesting aspect of Playtech’s software, and one which makes Playtech software so attractive for online casinos, is the fact that aspects of the games they provide can be changed to make conditions less favourable towards players. This means that the rules of ‘Blackjack Switch’ at one casino may not be as favourable towards the player at a different one. Note that these conditions settings only apply to some of Playtech’s table games, and not to their slots.
When you’re playing at a Playtech-powered casino it’s always best to check rules such as ‘double down after switch allowed’ and the number of decks used at blackjack for example.
As well as all the usual standards, Playtech has a number of ‘alternative’ and unique games that other casino software develops simply do not provide. As far as casino games go, there surely can be no game simpler than Heads or Tails, in which you simply bet on the outcome of a coin toss. You either choose heads or tails – sadly you cannot gamble on the coin landing on its side.
Other ‘unique’ Playtech games include Around the World (disappointingly nothing to do with Daft Punk), Pop Bingo, Bonus Bowling, Casino Reels, Derby Day Horse Racing, Dice Twister, Final Score (a football result prediction game sourced from Ash Gaming), Genie’s Hi Lo, Jackpot Darts, Knockout (a boxing simulator), Mahjong, Mega Ball, Pachinko, Penalty Shootout (an England World Cup Knockout simulator), Rock Paper Scissors (a game more fiendishly complicated than chess), Roller Coaster Dice and Wheel of Light.
The are currently 37 casinos that are run either wholly or largely by Playtech casino software. These include big names such as Bet365, William Hill and Betfred, and lesser known sites such as Prestige Casino.
The company’s iPoker network was created by leading casino game designer Geoff Hall in 2004. It has grown to be easily the most extensive poker skins network on the internet. Players at multiple iPoker skins sites join a network of thousands of players sitting at tables across a large number of poker clients. The leading poker rooms that are part of iPoker network include Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and William Hill. As of October 2014, the iPoker network consisted of 28 separate poker rooms.
The iPoker network averages around 2,000 players online at anyone time, placing it in third place in terms of poker traffic, slightly behind the 888poker network, and significantly behind PokerStars, which boasts an average of 18,500.