This gaming software giant originates in 1981, when video poker and slot pioneer William “Si” Red changed the name of his “A1 Supply Company” to “International Game Technology” or IGT for short. Today IGT is one of the world’s leading gaming software design companies, but it has taken nearly forty years of business growth, strategic mergers and take-overs to achieve this market dominance.
Originally headquartered in Reno in the US state of Nevada, close to the world gaming capital of Las Vegas, Si’s company designed games for real world land-based casinos. Through innovation and strategic growth, it has expanded consistently, so that it now has close to a million land-based slot machines in operation, with over a thousand different casinos using its software to run their machines and management systems.
The major catalyst for this increasing market dominance came when the company introduced its highly successful and innovative Game King Video Poker machine. This 1996 design revolutionised real world gaming with the introduction of multi-denominational technology. In effect, this enabled slot players to choose their stake at a single machine. Before this, land based slots allowed only one stake value per slot machine: if you wanted to change your bet, you had to change your location in order to search for an alternative machine which offered the stake level you required. This development has been so popular that IGT now claims over 90% of the real world casino video poker market in the United States.
The early 21st Century saw the development of its networked progressive jackpot machines. This enabled IGT to further improve its market dominance. Its frequent multi-million dollar jackpots provided the publicity which drew even more players toward its machines.
This land-based market leadership was added to when IGT Interactive was formed in 2010. The Interactive division was intended to enable IGT to develop the company’s real world technological designs for the online market. This too has been a success. The same formula has been utilised to progress the company online as was so profitable on land. Both in-house innovation and design, and strategic acquisitions have been used to continue the company’s expansion. Several big name software development houses have been taken over, in order to become part of the IGT family of companies. These include Barcrest and Wagerworks. This expanding network of sister companies means that IGT are now one of the leading games designers in the industry.
IGT are responsible for many of the online versions of traditional casino table games, such as Poker and Roulette. These are designed in various formats and are widely available at many of today’s leading online casinos. IGT are also behind the design of many of today’s popular online slot titles. These include popular favourites like Cleopatra, Coyote Moon and Wild Wolf. They have also acquired the rights to produce a slot for Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek franchise.
As ever with companies of this size, the current ownership structure of the organisation is complicated by a series of take-overs, mergers, re-namings and re-brandings. IGT is now part of an international conglomerate with its precise corporate management chart requiring the employment of an advanced forensic accountant to unravel. I’m not one of those, and neither do I have the resources to employ one, so the following hazy description will have to suffice.
In 2015, IGT merged with its fellow American games designers, the technology company GTECH. In truth, it was more of a take-over, with GTECH paying nearly $5 billion for the company, as well as taking on its new acquisition’s close to $2 billion debt. However, the new company decided to retain the IGT name. In fact, GTECH had already itself been taken over in 2006, by the Italian lottery company Lottomatica. It too had decided to retain the acquired company’s name, so it was nominally GTECH which completed the take-over. The new conglomerate, consisting of all three companies trading as IGT, is controlled via a 51 per cent stake held by the Italian De Agostini Corporation. IGT has its new headquarters in London, with satellite offices situated near the original partner companies’ homes, in Las Vegas and Rome.
These take-over / mergers enable the new IGT conglomerate to claim that it is the world’s leading “end-to-end gaming company”. Basically this means that the company handles every stage of the game development process: from designing the software, to designing the physical machines or website infrastructure. This includes the operation, management and payment systems necessary for to keep both real world and online operations running smoothly. It also involves using the word “solutions” quite a lot.
Today, IGT remains a market leader in just about all aspects of the international gaming market. For land-based casinos, it remains a major developer of real world slot machines, achieving close to total market dominance in some niche areas. It not only designs the machines themselves, but also the management software and systems that casino operators require to run progressive jackpot networks, organise pay-outs and prevent fraud.
Meanwhile, online, the company continues to design innovative games which are popular with players across the world. Many of the best known online casinos popular with United Kingdom-based gamers licence IGT slots and casino games. If you are a regular player, it is almost inevitable that you will have seen or played on an IGT designed title. IGT can also supply the management and operational software necessary for site operators to run their sites. So even if you are not actually playing on an IGT designed game, it is more than likely that IGT have contributed to the software which powers the site you are playing on. This enables the whole process of playing games online to be a smooth and pleasurable experience: from registration to making payments and withdrawing your hard-earned winnings.
So from its relatively humble beginnings in the Nevada desert, IGT has grown to become a market leading European based conglomerate, with divisions responsible for all aspects of both real world and online gaming. It continues to produce innovative new designs for both land based and virtual casinos, plus all the other administrative add-ons necessary to enable the smooth-running operation of both online sites and real life casinos. And with its Italian partner’s lottery interests and a thriving sports betting division, it really does have just about all the major constituents of the modern gaming industry well and truly covered.
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