RTG (Realtime Gaming) are an online gambling company who develop and maintain download-only casino-based software. They were established in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998, but moved all production to Costa Rica in 2008.
Around the same time they were bought by Hastings International, who are part of the HBM Group, a financial services provider. The company is now based in Curaçao in the southern Caribbean Sea. This article will go through a little of RTG’s oddly chequered history, and will also advise you where you can play RTG games, if you so choose to do so.
RTG began life in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998 by providing the software for the online casino, iNetBet. Over time they expanded their range and began to licence their software out to other casinos. For a while, it became an industry ‘joke’ that to acquire a licence from RTG, all you had to do was ask. RTG also had a reputation for permitting its licensees to continue accepting US-based players, even after the passing of 2006’s Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.
RTG really began to expand when online casino pioneer Warren Cloud came on board. Despite RTG’s success, Cloud came with a varied reputation, and several RTG casinos were declared ‘rogue’ by the leading casino forum site, CasinoMeister. Cloud had begun his casino career with an online Casino in South Africa powered by South Korean software, but then jumped ship first to Australia and then London, leaving several players unpaid.
In 2004 RTG courted controversy when they refused to pay a player who won $1.3million by playing Caribbean 21 at Hampton Casino. They initially accused the player of using an automated bot, but eventually relented and paid the player an undisclosed settlement. Caribbean 21 is a form of blackjack that swings the odds in favour of the player if the casino has not set up all the various bonus rules correctly. The player had discovered a slight chink in RTG’s software that he exploited to win his $1.3 million. RTG tried to void the winning due to the use of the bot, but it was proven that all the bot did was simulate mouse clicks and otherwise had no other influence on the game or software. Following this controversy Caribbean 21 was removed from all of RTG’s casinos.
In 2007 RTG moved its development centre to Heredia, Costa Rica, just in time for it to be sold to the Curaçao-based company Hastings International. Hastings itself is managed by a corporate services provider called HBM Group.
The company’s association with Cloud ended in July 2008 when he died of a heart attack in Ibiza, aged just 34. Since then, RTG has been working hard to improve its reputation, particularly in line with the way it handles player relations.
While RTG may not have yet gathered the kind of reputation for its games in the same way that Microgaming, Playtech, Betsoft, IGT and NetEnt have, since 2010 there are no doubts that RTG has succeeded in repairing its reputation, and by some degree.
The vast majority of RTG games are online slots, aimed at the less complicated end of the market. RTG slots are seen as an excellent way of coming to terms with the complexity of online slot games, with simple rules, gameplay and winning opportunities.
Among the best RTG casino games are the Japanese-themed Ronin, the Inca-based Aztec’s Treasure and the immensely popular Cleopatra’s Gold, which of course is geared around the riches of Ancient Egypt.
RTG’s games have a very decent reputation for being fast and intuitive, and casinos that use RTG software (reputable casinos that is) tend to be generous with bonuses. RTG’s software usually comes in two varieties as well – bespoke programs for download casinos, or, as is more common, Flash-based software for browser-play casinos.
A huge amount of RTG’s slots have progressive jackpots – over seventy in fact. The jackpots come with conditions that make them much easier to win than the standard progressive jackpots offered by other games, and most of them are won every few weeks or even every few days. The downside to this win frequency is that the jackpots seldom rise above the $200,000 barrier.
Having said that, three progressive slots using RTG software have created winners of over $1 million. These (at the time of writing) are Shopping Spree ($1.24 million), Midlife Crisis ($1.09 million) and Megasaur ($1.05 million).
Aside from slots, RTG has a version of baccarat that uses six decks, six versions of blackjack (and no longer the trouble-causing Caribbean 21), casino war, craps, keno, let’em ride, a few forms of casino poker (including pai gow poker), four versions of roulette, sic bo and no less than fifteen versions of video poker including all the most popular varieties.
RTG is not very hot on ‘quirky’ games, but does offer four scratch card games: Diamond Jackpot, Hot Dice, Magic 7’s and Lucky 8’s. All four of these games have an authentic scratch card look and feel, rather than an ‘online’ appearance used by other casino software providers.
RTG casinos are no longer routinely marked as ‘suspicious’ since the death of Warren Cloud, although several are still to be avoided, such as the Winpalace Group which won Casinomeister’s ‘Worst Casino Group of the Year’ award in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Most of the complaints regarding Winpalace are about the groups ‘trickle-feed’ policy which pays out winnings at a rate of $500 a week, even though the group’s T&Cs state very firmly that the pay-out rate should be $3,000.
There are still a number of RTG casinos where players report experiences that are entirely satisfactory.