Net Entertainment and IGT Sign a Cross-License Agreement for North America
Net Entertainment has speeded up its entry into the North American online gambling market by entering into a cross-license agreement with International Game Technology, the largest manufacturer of US slot machines. IGT has a much wider network of associations besides its land-based gaming machine business, though. As of 2014, IGT is owned by the world’s largest lottery corporation, GTECH, and has a significant online slots network.
Net Ent’s Profile
Net Entertainment, often referred to as Net Ent, is a respected Swedish online gaming software company. Net Ent supports a wide range of UK and European casinos operators in the European gaming market. It also has a reputation for some of the best online slot machine and table games software. Net Entertainment’s 3D video slots are cutting edge, while it employs some of the best software designers in the industry for its high-quality renderings.
Under terms of the agreement, NetEnt is going to be given the right to use IGT-patent game fatures. The Swedish company hopes to deliver such games in the United States, along with other North American gaming markets.
Big Step Forward in North America
Bjorn Krantz, the Managing Director for NetEnt’s American division, says that the deal with IGT is seen as a “big step forward” in allowing NetEnt to establish an American foothold. Krantz also said the games will launch as “multichannel real money game offerings”. He expects those launchings to occur in the near future.
Net Entertainment is filing the paperwork for a New Jersey entry into the legal gaming market. The second half of 2015 is the expected date for its North American rollout.
Eriksson Targets NY and Pennsylvania
Industry rumors suggest that Net Ent CEO Per Eriksson is targeting the New York and Pennsylvania gaming markets as his main goals. Neither state has legalized gambling yet, though Pennsylvania this week has 4 state senators announce they would sponsor a legalization bill.
If those rumors are true, then it would contradict conventional logic in the US gaming market. California is seen as the big US state most likely to offer licensed online gaming, while New York seldom gets a mention. California is considering legalizing online poker-only, so this might indicate why Eriksson is not interested in the Golden State.
Matteo Monteverdi, the Senior Vice President of Global Product Marketing-Interactive for IGT, said that working with NetEnt “confirms the significance of IGT’s portfolio of Intellectual Properties (IP)”.
One of the features to be integrated into the NetEnt selection of games is the “stacked wilds” option. This was introduced into the mix with IGT’s Wolf Run video slot. With a “stacked wild”, the reels are filled up with “wild symbols”, which appear stacked on more than one reel at a time.
The “tumbling reels” feature is another important addition to the NetEnt lineup. In this feature, when a winning combination is hit, the winning reel symbols drop off the screen and the symbols above them “tumble down” the screen, thus providing additional chances for winning combinations (without risking coins). Any feature which provides players bonus winning opportunities without spending cash is welcome, so the tumbling reels feature has been a big winner for IGT.
Other IGT gaming features included in the package are the MultiWay Pay, which instituted the revolutionary “243 ways-to-win” gaming option. The Multi WayXtra Pay and its “720 to 1,024 ways-to-win” play feature is another key addition in the IGT/NetEnt deal. The Split Symbol and the End2End feature are also part of the deal.
GTECH and IGT
In 2014, IGT was bought by GTECH, the Italian lottery company which handles lotto sales in dozens of countries worldwide. GTECH already had a significant US wing, as it also supports over a dozen state lotteries in the USA. The $4.7 billion deal to purchase IGT, the largest slot machine manufacturer, created the largest gaming company in the world.
International Game Technology was a large enough acquisition that Marco Sala, the CEO of GTECH, became the CEO of IGT instead. The company is still in the middle of restructuring in the wake of the big merger, with its Las Vegas offices set for a scale-down. IGT’s plants are going to be moved from Vegas to Reno in the coming months.