With over 30,000 staff around the world, Novomatic are, in terms of head count, one of the largest gambling technology companies on the planet. Operating more than 255,000 gaming terminals and video lottery terminals (VLTs), they are a force to be reckoned with and are certainly leading experts when it comes to high-tech electronic gambling equipment and solutions.
Having initially started in the world of brick and mortar gambling, developing slot machines and technology for casinos, they were quick to move into the online world in the nineties using their knowledge of the industry and existing expertise to develop digitally and build up their client list.
Founded in 1980 by Austrian billionaire Professor John F Graf, they had serious backing which enabled them to build quickly and swiftly establish a major presence in what was a highly competitive industry. Not long after being founded, there was a Novomatic slot in almost all of the biggest and most exclusive casinos in the world – the fact that they were able to take their products to market at a faster rate than most of their major rivals was also a huge help.
Now in over 80 countries worldwide (both land based and online), Novomatic has an annual revenue which far exceeds 5 billion euros and are a brand name that commands respect.
Best Novomatic Casino Sites
What do Novomatic do?
Novomatic are many things to many different people. Yes, they a software provider to the casino industry so you may well have played their games, however, there is a lot more to them than that. While they do have an array of different online slots and games that they provide to a host of operators across multiple regions, they started in land based casinos, developing physical slot machines, and this is something that they still do.
They also own a wide array of other businesses such as tech firms and casinos, and over their 40 year history have completed in excess of 50 acquisitions as part of their growth strategy. Effectively, you could say that they are a private equity company but without the selling aspect, acquiring smaller brands and running them under the Novomatic umbrella.
However, most readers will be interested in their gaming and tech capabilities, so let’s have a look at them.
Online Slots and Games
Novomatic have developed more than 350 slots in their time, and you can find out a little bit about some of their most successful below:
Book of Ra
This has actually turned into a series of games over the years, and although the original was released way back in 2005 it can still be found at the top of casino games lists all over the internet. It’s a classic 5x3 reel game with 10 paylines and an adventure theme, plus freespins triggered by landing 3 scatters.
Some of the other titles in the series are Book of Atlantis, and Temple of Gold which introduces a new female character.
Lucky Lady’s Charm
Another fairly simple slot, as Novomatic tend to go for, this is a serene laid back game with the potential to win 9,000x your stake and an RTP of 95.13%.
It was released in 2006 and is another 5x3 with 10 paylines.
The titular lucky lady serves as the game’s wild and will double any wins she is involved with, and a generous 15 freespins will be your if you land 3 scatter symbols.
Although this is a game with more of an old school arcade feel, it proved popular with players when it was originally released and a Deluxe version came out in 2007. It comes with a ‘Gamble’ feature which allows you to risk losing a win to double the amount you get for it.
Although it is another 5x3 game there are only 5 fixed paylines that you can win on, but the volatility is low/medium so wins should be fairly frequent, even if the max you can expect is 1000x your stake.
This was where Novomatic started life, and as such they really are leaders in their field.
They have developed a huge range of single game and multi game terminals, some with a luxury seating element, some offering slots and others focussed on more traditional casino games like roulette.
Like all other areas of their business though, Novomatic have every angle covered and their terminals also include self service sports betting options and self service lottery ticket vending machines.
Casino Management Systems
The last of the three major product areas is the casino management systems. Novomatic do have a few different game platforms and other business verticals but the CMS is a major component of what they do.
Using decades worth of knowledge and experience they can offer businesses a reliable, multi-faceted, all encompassing solution which can take care of everything from compliance, to customer support and payments, as well as content and technical infrastructure.
They can even take care of player tracking, marketing and retention, CRMs, the lot. Basically, they do everything.
History of Novomatic
Having existed since the 1980’s, Novomatic have been around for a lot of big changes in the gambling industry – they were even responsible for some of them – so their company history is full of interesting information and in many ways runs parallel with the history of casinos themselves.
Let’s have a look, decade by decade, at how this global gaming technology company grew to become the goliath it is today.
The 1980’s – Novomatic is Born
It was the year 1980 when Novomatic were first founded, and they were quick off the mark too, developing and producing the first Admiral gaming machines in their opening year. You may well have seen an Admiral casino on your local high street, there are around 1500 of them in the UK, all owned by Novomatic.
Merely a year after launching, in 1981 they were already showing signs of ambitious expansion plans when they gained presence in Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands; regions where gambling was definitely rising in popularity with their residents offering plenty of market potential.
By 1984, they were doing really exciting things; they finalised the development of the MPU 01, known formally as the Micro Processor Unit 01 hardware, which was a platform creating a basis for slot machines which were recognised as state of the art.
In 1985, the first Novomatic dual screen terminals were introduced to the market which revolutionised the industry and put Novomatic on the map as a company who were well ahead of the game in terms of their technological capabilities.
Three years later in 1988, they began to gradually restructure from a corporate standpoint, founding a holding company in Switzerland, and further expanded to South Africa.
A breakthrough year occurred in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, paving the way for extensive pioneering opportunities into new EU member states. They also raised their profile considerably when they opened their first Admiral Casino in Montreux, Switzerland, essentially turning themselves into an operator.
The 1990’s – Harnessing new Tech
The dawn of a new decade marked a major milestone for Novomatic as they founded NOVO Invest Casino Development AG, known today as Novomatic AG, which serves as the core of the group and was used at the time to focus more on strategic expansion.
One year later, they made further waves in a sea of promise when they founded Admiral Sportwetten GmbH (sports betting to you and me), which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Novomatic AG. This was a whole new area of business for the company at the time as they had previously focussed solely on gaming.
Their decision to move into the Czech Republic also paid off when, in 1991, they were able to open the largest casino in the country, which was a joint venture with the city of Prague. Novomatic had previously established a production base there.
There were considerable milestones in 1993 and 1994 when the company added Germany, Norway, Poland, Latvia and Estonia, Namibia and Botswana to their business locations, as well as opening their second and third plants in the picture postcard town of Gumpoldskirchen in Austria.
On the tech front, the development of the new ASIC Applied Specific Integrated Circuit hardware platform was revolutionary and became the basis for a new generation of high tech slot machines.
Cool Fire and Multiplayer Gaming
Mid-way through the 90’s, Novomatic obtained a license to operate in Ontario in Canada, the first one to be awarded to the group in North America, while casinos were opened all over Switzerland, in Baden near Zurich, Davos, Saxon Les Bains and Weggis. In addition to this, their burgeoning real estate portfolio swelled further with the addition of Hotel Admiral am Kurpark, while also marked their diversification into the hotel and hospitality industry.
On the product side of things, the first multiplayer devices and Interactive Multi-Games were launched, revolutionising the sector and providing the inspiration for Novomatic’s next big technological leap.
It was in 1997 that they developed and trademarked the casino hardware platform Coolfire (Coldfire Risk Processor). This was the final step towards high end technology gaming and served as a basis for interactive live games. They would go on to develop over 100 online games using the Coolfire platform.
’97 was capped off with the presentation of the first ever multiplayer gaming machines, a landmark in the company’s history. This allowed for the automation of roulette and thus the development of the trademarked TouchBet Roulette, which allowed up to 250 players to play live roulette at once.
In terms of growth, Novomatic also snapped up Paradise Casino Intl gaining themselves 2 further casinos in the Czech Republic as well as opening another EDP plant there, utilised their relationship with the University of Krakow to establish Advanced Technology Systems International SA (ATSI) in Poland, and purchased a 10% stake in the Spielbank Casino, Berlin, amongst other things.
The 2000’s – Entering the UK Market
The early years of the new millennium were spent acquiring new licenses of all kinds from countries all over the world, to the point where Novomatic products were being used in almost every single European country and many others around the world.
Most pertinently to readers of this site, Novomatic gained a UK seller, supplier and maintenance license, meaning their products were about to hit casinos country wide. They showcased some of their headline products to the UK for the first time at ICE in 2001; Dolphin’s Pearl, Novo Multi Roulette, and Novo TouchBet among them.
1000 Novo TouchBet and Novo Multi-Roulette terminals were installed across the UK as a result, with another 1000 in use elsewhere in the world.
Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, Novomatic owned Paradise Casino Admiral (which had eight casinos and nine gaming outlets) became the country’s market leader, and Novomatic also acquired 80 percent more shares in Admiral Leisure World Ltd in South Africa. Admiral went on something of a casino opening spree during the 200’s. with new venues launching in Hungary, Vienna, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.
Making a Splash at ICE and Product Launches
In terms of product launches, 2003 hailed a particularly successful year. At ICE in London, Novomatic presented their ground breaking Novo Multi Screen Technology, while they also developed their Coolfire II USB casino hardware platform. Their first two online slot games; Lucky Lady’s Charm and Sizzling Hot, were also well received there.
They experienced more acclaim in 2005 with their Gaminator and Novo Safe Cash being the main attractions at ICE, while the world famous game Book of Ra was released the same year. This title is still played by millions today.
Towards the end of the decade, the NovoStar SL Cabinet was launched. This space age looking gaming machine became a staple on gaming floors in casinos all over the world, popular for its ergonomic design and cutting edge technology.
Breaking Records and Winning Awards
While they further increased their company portfolio when they acquired Extra Games Entertainment GmbH which was a German operator of Adult Gaming Centres, and ASTRA Games Ltd in the UK, one of the biggest achievements during the 2000s was an annual turnover in excess of 1 billion Euros, which they first achieved in 2005.
Meanwhile, the awards were coming in thick and fast too. In Austria they won the award for the country’s most dynamic company in the ‘big player’ category two years in a row, as well as the AWO’s Export Prize in 2008.
They have added to this many times over in the years since, most notable winning Casino Supplier of the Year on a number of occasions.
2010’s – A Decade of Acquisitions
An awful lot of expansion and growth happened from 2010 onwards, with Novomatic having business interests in every nook and cranny of the industry online as well as offline, from huge luxury casinos to small resort arcades, and from online slots to online gaming backend solutions.
However, most notable are the number of acquisitions the company made. This strategy for growth is nothing new to Novomatic, but they really turned it up to 11 from 2010. Some of the key takeovers made include:
- Danoptra Gaming Group (Bell-Fruit, Mazooma, etc.)
- Luxury Leisure Ltd (Highstreet and Seaside Gaming Centres, UK)
- SAL Leisure Ltd, UK
- Austrian Lotteries GmbH
- BlueBat Games Inc, Canada
- AbZorba LLC, USA
- PlayNation Ltd, UK
- Talarius Ltd, UK (Quicksilver Amusement Arcades)
- Casino Royal Group, Germany
…and that really is just a small selection. They also opened a large number of new casinos throughout Europe.
They had now effectively become a private equity company, buying up smaller firms in their industry to further enhance their portfolio.
In 2020 Novomatic celebrated their 40th birthday.
What Could the Future Hold for Novomatic?
Despite being one of the largest companies in online gambling, it is strange that Novomatic are not that well known among the average player community, especially in the UK or America. They have hundreds of games out there, some of which are extremely well know, but they aren’t often mentioned in the same breath as other big game developers who perhaps specialise more in this area.
Novomatic though cannot be described solely as a software provider, which may have something to do with it, and although they certainly could be an online operator if they wanted to be what with all of the content and technical know-how at their disposal, it’s not something they seem to be interested in at the moment.
One thing that the company can rightfully claim, is that when it comes to technology and development, they are one of the leaders in this space with the muscle to take on the likes of Playtech and Microgaming, two of the most well known names in the industry.
The fact that they own multiple technology companies and research incubators in differing niches also means that they are right on the cutting edge and certainly very well placed to develop innovative technology for the industry going forward.
They already dominate the land based market in many different countries, and this is something they will likely look to solidify and even build upon as the years go on. Their ability to corner the higher class casino market in one country (Czech Republic, for example) and the high street amusement arcade market in another (the UK) shows flexibility and adaptability, so they might even be able to carve out a new niche somewhere else.
The United States is fertile ground and although they already have business in America there is plenty of room to grow there with the right strategy, albeit facing fierce competition. Africa is another country where Novomatic have a strong foothold and where there is plenty of opportunity for further expansion.
Perhaps the most exciting developments will come from any future technologies that they develop considering their track record, especially when considering new and exciting industries such as machine learning which has a staggering amount of potential in the online gambling industry.
While we have delved quite deeply into how Novamatic operate and what they do we understand that you still may have questions, so we have anticipated what we think you might want to ask and endeavoured to answer them as best as we can.
Why Haven’t I Heard of Novomatic?
Well, compared to the likes of Microgaming and Playtech who generally are solely software providers, Novomatic have dealings in many different areas of the businesses. This means a lot of what they do is more behind the scenes. Also, because they have been around for such a long time, most of their clients or target clients already know who they are, which means they do not really need to advertise.
Furthermore, being an Austrian company they were comparatively late to enter the UK market and mostly did this through the acquisition of other brands like Admiral, so you might well recognise some of their subsidiaries without knowing they are owned by Novomatic. However, they do also provide UK based operators with access to their own products as well, such as their slots and games.
What are the Main Strengths of Novomatic?
The answer to this could be variable. As a software provider and operator they have developed all of their own content using their in house market leading technology, so their games are about as robust as it gets. They are also known to be innovative both in the online and offline space.
As a company, a major strength is the number of employees that they have working at all of their different companies around the world. This means that Novomatic has access to a vast array of expertise to solve problems and develop new technology, and they can do this faster than many of their rivals.
Why do Novomatic own so Many Companies?
While it is more common for operator companies to buy other businesses, Novamatic has also adopted this approach. One of the reasons why they own so many companies and brands is because it means that they can grow quickly and have access to more knowledge and expertise.
However, no doubt the company also knows that they have a wider diversification of income with this approach, so that they don’t have to rely solely on software provision and can easily survive if one area of their business falters.
Will Novomatic still be Around in 10 Years?
Because they have been in existence for 40 years already, it would be a good bet that they will still be around in another 10 years, unless gambling is suddenly made illegal or its popularity inexplicably nose dives – but there is no reason or suggestion that either of those things are about to happen.
Another good reason why they are likely to still be around is because they may well be too big for anyone else to buy; so even if they were interested in selling up and letting another company either run or rebrand them, finding someone who could afford it would be tricky!