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It`s time to make the resume of another year for game online-industry. Online poker became the main “newsmaker” last time, casino move away to the shadow; however some memorable and important moments during the year can be found in Internet casino industry too. So what did pay players` attention to in 2009?
Let`s start with international business, USA first of all. In spite of some players` optimistic expectations, serious motions in country`s law didn`t happen. Senator Barney Frank standing up for online games legalize and regulation in USA continues to collect voices for supporting his bill, but there were no other movement. They firstly talked about possible carrying out bill hearings in Senate`s economics committee in spring, after these in autumn. In the total there is nothing happened, the delay explains with the crisis and greater currency of other bills. Last news say about a possibility of spring hearings, we`ll see if it will happen finally. But even if they`ll approve the bill (and last time about one voice was not enough), that will be the first step only, after these the bill will come to the USA Parliament, where it will have to come through some hearings, get the approval of both chambers and the President`s sign. It may take for some years, so there is no excessive optimism so far. But again, it`s possible the situation when online poker like “mastery game” will be allowed and casino like gamble can stay under prohibition. So, we`ll wait and see. Meanwhile in the same America UIGEA regulations           full adoption was delay again, UIGEA is a law forbidding financial institutes to conduct transactions between Americans and online casino. It means that UIGEA operating but there is no serious influence on banks yet forbidding paying receiving from casino and Americans who wish can play calmly for a while.
A lot of countries now thinking about online games laws. Somewhere they coming the regulations way, somewhere they think about forbidding and state monopolies establishing. Italy, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries can be call among “problem” regions. They are more liberal in East Europe, so not long ago Estonians approved the law allowing online-games, but on the condition that servers have to be situated in Estonia. Some casino will try to legalize in Estonia and some will just ignore the law, here the fact of industry regulation is important but not the forbidding of it.
The situation in Russia is interesting too. As you know, all offline casinos were closed from July 2009. But offline game industry immediately found alternative variants – “lottery clubs” (the same slots, but remaking a little) and “Internet-cafes” (Internet-casino access or just computer games). Spreading of these surrogate casinos provoked authorities to toughen the law against online casino:). Instead of little changing a low forbidding such institutions finally (however nowadays they fight with them successful in some regions, the point is in political will), authorities offer to force Internet-providers to block casinos` sites. It seems to be strange for me – it`s forbidding to make online casinos in Russia only by the law, and it is not even a criminal offence. And enmity propaganda or pornography spreading is criminally liable fully, but nobody offers to block porno- or extremists sites! So that`s ok, chances for approving this forbidding are not big, to my opinion. I haven`t heard some of the movers and shakers were interested in this offer. But even if something like this will be approve a) in Russia law strictness is compensating with optionality of its` observance, b) proxy-servers and VPN can avoid any block easy. So, players haven`t to worry about, it`s easy to pass through any prohibition if you want it to.
However offline casinos closing didn`t give a sharp surge of interest of online casinos there. There became more players in Internet but for tens percent only but not more fold. By the way there is no sharp leap in the side of industry yet. Generally during 2009 there was no really interesting Russian online casino project. Small but perspective Elen Casino project appeared in 2008 and develops rather slowly for the present. One more not bad project seems to be open in the beginning of 2010. No, there were new casinos opened but on petty charged cheap soft, few casinos appeared on familiar Globo and Ensis soft, but they were clones mainly. Though changes in Va-bank fortune have to be mark, it became on last legs slowly during few last years. New team bought it now, management changed, soft developed and other changes plan. I haven`t try new version, the work is going on there, but I`ll try later and tell you about impressions.
Let`s look now what was happening in the world of leading game soft providers. After some years of loosing clients and losses Cryptologic returns to life slowly. There are no new casino they`ve got but they didn`t lose the old ones. Now they sell their slots to other casinos actively and earn not bad money. Among customers is Playtech for example. This company is ok, continues getting clients, lives not bad. They have a little caving in poker at the beginning of 2010. And new games add in casino, more Russianize casinos, in the end of year made me glad with new video roulettes – everything is ok. Cassava activated – returned to life dying Reef Club, made some casinos, signed an agreement with the biggest American offline company Harrah, it will be actually the first online casino from Vegas monster (however MGM Mirage had the unsuccessful experience). They starts to rusifize too, but soft and quantity of games don`t shine yet, but they trying, working, buying Crypts` slots. Boss Media don`t live, don`t die, they accentuate on poker. Microgaming sitting pretty straight this year, there are no many new casinos, with the Americans expulsion the business is not so cheerful, but the company is leader of softbuilding as before leaving competitors far behind. They continue to give 4 new games monthly (total quantity is more than 450 games), including such a unique thing as MySlot setting by player, videoslot without lines with 234 win variants – Burning Desire etc. In one of Microgaming casinos the online jackpot record was set up – €6,4 millions. RTG – the one among grand continues to work on American market, so they have more new casinos. But they don`t like Russians as before, so there is no sense to talk much about this soft. Not much less casinos were open under Rivel. But in spite of decent soft and Americans accepting casinos of this company didn`t win such strong players` love yet. New casinos with this soft are losing and I doubt whether they can attract many players if it were not for without-deposit bonuses. Unfortunately sometimes mistakes and glitches happen in slots, so it`s early to move Rivel to grands.
If to speak about novelties and tendencies in technique terms there are no visible breakthroughs yet. Three-dimensional casino Le Croupier appeared, but it is French one and not very friendly with other nations. In whole we can`t call this casino “first” and “unique”, we can remember Shangri La all the same – three-dimensional casino, which was closed in 2006 yet. Considering growing popularity of social networks, casinos open their channels on Twitter and groups on Facebook (Russian ones – on Vkontakte), BuzzLuck casino (RTG) produced an interactive lobby, where you can interact with people settle there (real peoples` video). Video casinos become more popular. Evolution Gaming company put their games with alive dealers this year in a whole row of big online bookmakers, two new roulettes with alive dealers appeared in Playtech, as I`ve wrote. In spite of active smartphones development  and projections about most part of Internet-serfing will come from computers to mobile-phones, mobile casinos didn`t show serious development.
Resumes of the year were made already with lots of sites and magazines. Two tops attract attention – from industry representative and players. EGR magazine named Casino on Net the best casino, Unibet (for video translations) and BWin (general operator of the year) have got their prizes too.CasinoMeister basing on the opinion of forum participants named Club USA casino the best one (RTG, don`t take Russians), plus CWC group where this casino is in – is the best casino group. The favourite CasinoMeistera casino 32 Red (Microgaming) has got the name of “casino of the decade”. By the way there are some complaints to Microgaming itself, the company got into the list of disappointments and the best soft WagerWorks was voted.
I hope, in 2010 online casinos will can make you glad :) . Good luck in game!