Scientific Games Casinos
One of the more confusing software developers out there, Scientific Games, or SG Gaming, are a huge corporation who have acquired many other companies as their journey has progressed.
What makes them confusing is the number of subsidiaries that they have operating under their umbrella but still using their own brand names, including one with a very similar sounding name - SG Gaming is actually a division of Scientific Games – see, already confusing.
We will get into this in more detail later, but for now just know that Scientific Games is actually a huge collection of wholly owned but individually operated companies all working towards the same goal.
These guys do everything.
Based in Las Vegas but active seemingly all over the world, Scientific Games don’t just make games, they also provide software solutions and platforms, lottery technology, and physical gaming machines that are supplied to casinos all over the world.
If you have ever spent an hour at a casino, online or offline, then chances are you have at least seen if not played one of their games.
Scientific Games Casino Sites
Scientific Games Products and Services
In a nutshell, Scientific Games exists to enable their customers to provide the best gaming and lottery products via casinos, retail outlets, and online.
They back this up with a portfolio of technology platforms, professional services and marketing solutions, operating efficiencies, and top notch security.
But what does this mean in layman’s terms?
Well, with help from their subsidiaries they provide a vast array of games and lottery products that can be played online on in the real world, and they also have the technology to integrate these products into their customer’s existing setup.
On top of this, their customers can use their systems to analyse performance, and then use that information to create marketing campaigns and offers to boost sales and increase player sign ups.
We can look at some of their products in more detail below.
Retail Machines and Game Terminals
This is a huge part of the business, and their SG Gaming division does a lot of the leg work here.
There are a whole army of different types of gaming machine available for clients, ranging from large sit down machines that have a more immersive feel, to those which mix the old with the new, like pairing the traditional pull lever slot with up to date digital visuals.
These machines are extremely impressive to look at, but another part of the reason for their success here is their ability to provide cross brand versatility via their machines, thanks in large part to their many acquisitions.
Games from WMS, Bally, Shuffle Master and Barcrest can all be accessed from a single machine, and this coupled with the painstaking design of each terminal, assessing comfort, style, excitement, ergonomics, and everything else, means they are tough to beat.
They also supply electronic table games in this department.
Probably under the radar of a lot of online casino players, the lottery side of the business is where it all started for Scientific Gaming, and their client base is colossal. They supply lottery services to 150 different countries – that’s about 75% of the whole world.
Talk about market share…
What’s more, they operate in all areas of the lottery industry, whether it be digital, instant lottery games, their own linked games like Willy Wonka Golden Ticket, or traditional draw games, they do the lot.
This is also one area where Scientific Games create branded content, having done deals with brands like Monopoly, Betty Boop, Friends, Austin Powers, and even James Bond in the past.
Once again, the company do far more than simply make the games they sell, they also provide decades worth of analytical insights explaining when, where, and why players choose to play lottery games, as well as having the technology to handle anything that is thrown up during the implementation process.
Over the years they have been so innovative that they now have over 3,000 patents for their technological solutions, way too many to list here, but enough to make the point that they never stop creating.
Their 2021 acquisition of Sideplay Games is proof, if it were needed, that Scientific Games have no plans to loosen their hold on the lottery industry.
Casino Game Equipment
On a more basic level, although still state of the art in their respective fields, Scientific Games also design and manufacture equipment for use by casinos and dealers.
This includes things like automatic and continuous shuffling machines, chippers (machines that automatically sort chips and feed them back to the dealer in corresponding groups), intelligent card shoes that auto feed each card to the dealer, and even display screens to show game results.
There are also some more unique innovations such as the roulette i-spin, which allows players to launch the roulette ball themselves via a button, deck analysing machines, multi-shift drop boxes and all sorts of other useful gadgets for casinos and the like.
It’s not the must lucrative part of the business but it provides a healthy return nonetheless.
Brands Owned by Scientific Games
This is by no means a definitive list of all of the corporation’s acquisitions over the years, but it highlights the major brands that some of you will have heard of.
WMS was founded in the early nineties (although its’ parent company dates back to the 30s) and was a direct competitor to the likes of Barcrest below, manufacturing slot machines for use in casinos and arcade venues.
They also ventured into the lottery market and this was one of the things that eventually caught Scientific Games attention, who acquired WMS and their parent company in 2013.
Before this they had been one of the major innovators of the game terminal industry, boldly moving away from the more traditional style of game cabinet before most others, and introducing new features and ways to play.
However, it was their eventual move into the online and mobile markets that made them an attractive proposition for a takeover.
They were late to the party in that respect having relied too heavily on their previous business model and seeing a drop in sales of physical machines. This made them good value to Scientific Games, and also provided an opportunity to take over a direct competitor at the same time.
Founded in 1968, Barcrest started out manufacturing the old analogue fruit machines that you still sometimes find in pubs and clubs.
As the decades went on their offering was updated and they embraced the digital age, creating none other than Rainbow Riches along the way, which is still one of their top performing titles and has been adapted to many other forms of gambling, including bingo.
The business expanded into Europe over the years, and in 2006 created multi-channel gaming content, giving them a foothold in the quickly growing online scene. Now their games could be played online, via mobile phones, and even on interactive digital television.
Barcrest was acquired by Scientific Games in 2011, and ever since they have used this company’s expertise to super charge their capabilities when it comes to creating and supplying gaming terminals and more.
Following on from above, SG Gaming is actually the result of the combination of two of Scientific Games’ acquisitions: Barcrest and The Global Draw.
The Global Draw was acquired earlier than Barcrest in 2006, at which point the company was almost 10 years old. It boasted the world’s first ever wide area, centrally determined gaming system.
To you and me this means they essentially invented networked server based gaming, allowing companies to ‘link’ gaming terminals at all of their sites via a centrally controlled system.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal these days, but for the primitive gaming industry of 2006 it was a very big deal, and completely changed the landscape in terms of what was possible.
It was a shrewd move to buy the company just as it was starting to really rocket, and by merging them with Barcrest 6 years later, Scientific Games had the best of both worlds – a game manufacturer with decades of experience and a modern technology company that could work magic with those products.
And so, in 2012 SG Gaming was born.
The Bally name goes way way back to the days of wooden pinball machines. In fact, it was from one of these that Bally took its name, a game called Ballyhoo.
Bally’s history from then to now is incredibly complicated, including hostile takeover attempts, a bid by none other than WMS, and numerous name changes, but eventually Bally Technologies became the brand name.
They became focused, and still are, on the physical gaming machine industry and have made countless acquisitions of their own in order to bolster their capabilities, and they even came up with the first ever HD display curved screen among other triumphs.
They have won plenty of awards along the way too, adding four to the trophy cabinet in a single year in 2014.
This was enough to prick the ears of Scientific Gaming, who acquired Bally in 2014, shortly after they added WMS to the roster. They paid $3.3 billion for the privilege plus another $1.8 billion in assumed debt.
Jumping on from Bally, we have Shuffle Master.
This company was actually acquired by Bally shortly before Scientific Games swooped in on them, so when Bally changed ownership, they took Shuffle Master with them as part of the bargain.
The clue is in the name with Shuffle Master – to a point anyway. Yes, they were known for card shuffling machines (in fact, their Deck Mate product was one of the first of its kind), but they also manufacture gaming tables.
The company never intended to make games though, they wanted to sell a single deck card shuffling machine to stop card counters; but when their product was threatened by the casinos use of multiple decks as an alternative to combat card counting, Shuffle Master’s owner created a single deck game, Let it Ride, in the hope that it would increase the need for his product.
As you might have guessed, Let it Ride became incredibly popular and made the company far more money than their shuffling machines ever would.
This set them on the path to game creation and they eventually entered the world of slots and table games, which is how Bally found them.
This is actually a sports betting platform, originally known as Orbis Technology and founded in the UK in 1996.
Another of the corporation’s never ending acquisitions, OpenBet provide front and back end services to gambling brands in the UK, Australia, Greece and Canada.
They offer a full turn key solution encapsulating player accounts and all of the details within, a robust and customisable betting engine that processing 3 billion bets a year, the user interface itself and the betting features it contains, managed trading services with 24/7 support, plus in house and third party sports content.
The likes of Ladbrokes and PaddyPower have used OpenBet’s services so they really are top of their game.
OpenBet were actually sold to a holdings group called Endeavor in September of 2021, but we left this section in since they have played such a large part in Scientific Games’ history.
The History of Scientific Games
Although Scientific Games was founded in 1973, the company as it exists today can trace its roots all the way back to 1917, when an Australian man named George Julius founded Automatic Totalizers Limited.
This company was later renamed as the much snappier Autotote, and initially it existed to build and sell the automatic totalizing machine that Julius had invented for use at racetracks offering parimutuel betting.
This company has its own complicated history that it’s not worth covering in detail, but in the year 2000 they made a successful bid of $308 million for Scientific Games, and the new combined company became known as Scientific Games Corporation.
Business went well, with two thirds of all wagers on horse racing in America going through Autotote computers, but a security issue gained negative press in 2002 when an employee tried to steal $3 million by exploiting a design flaw.
Just 5 years later this blip had been forgotten, and Scientific Games were even credited with turning an industry once run by mobsters into something altogether more trustworthy, and a corporate enterprise.
As the years went on the corporation made many acquisitions, some of which we have covered above, and this has been their key strategy in growing the business. Rather than relying on organic growth or in-house developments, Scientific Games simply buy companies that already do what the business needs.
Today, Scientific Games employ almost 10,000 people globally and has an annual turnover that regularly comes in just under $3.5 billion and growing.