Born and bred on the internet, iGaming, along with everything else that has been developed in the last decade, can only exist because of the technology - in this case online gambling technology - that sits behind it. When you go to spin the roulette wheel or place your bet online on a live football game, it’s an iGaming platform and the services it supports that enables that action to take place.
As anyone in the online gambling technology world will know, the hosting needs of an iGaming platform are complex. The iGaming platform needs to enable the delivery of thousands of different games - both virtual and live, thanks to the rise in live dealer studios - to millions of people around the world. They must do so in a way that provides a seamless experience.
And while we can’t see them physically, iGaming platforms whether accessed via a website or an app, don’t just exist in a vacuum - they must ‘live’ somewhere: this is where reliable, available, and secure server infrastructure provided by a hosting provider comes in.
In this blog, we’ll explore what online gambling technology looks like and what iGaming platform providers should consider when choosing a hosting partner.
Let’s first consider what technology is involved in iGaming platforms.
Of course, there are the games - thousands of games: Poker. Roulette. Slots. eSports. The list goes on. You name it, iGaming platforms support it. But there is so much more involved in the player experience than just the games.
From registering on the site or app, to handling payments for placing bets, there is a whole host of online gambling technology that is involved in building and servicing an iGaming platform. It’s a complicated set up and online casinos have two choices about how to develop it.
Either, they can work directly with multiple vendors for the various services that they deliver to players, including different game providers. Or they can work with a casino games aggregator.
If it chooses to go down the first route, an online casino would need to manually integrate its API with the game vendor or player registration portal directly. The downside of that approach is that the online casino must manage relationships and integration with many different companies.
If it’s the latter, an online casino integrates with a casino aggregator, which is a one-stop-shop of everything they need to develop their iGaming platform. With just one API integration, online casinos get access to different game studios, player registration, user management, payments and more.
Casino game aggregators take away the need for online casinos to manage multiple contracts and relationships with providers - the casino aggregator does it all for them. Perhaps most importantly, this includes games vendors.
This is important because the content within an online casino needs to be constantly refreshed to keep players coming back for more. To continually update the content by working with a range of different games vendors is very time consuming and could end up with online content that isn’t as up to date as competitor offerings. With a casino games aggregator, online casinos can easily introduce new games from multiple vendors in one go.
As a software solution, a casino games aggregator must also be hosted somewhere. So, whether an online casino works directly with vendors or with a casino aggregator, server hosting plays an important part.
So, what’s involved with hosting an iGaming platform and what should online casinos and games aggregators look for from a hosting partner?
As we discussed in our previous blog, which looks at iGaming infrastructure, latency is crucial for iGaming platforms. It’s what ensures players don’t experience a delay when playing a game or placing a bet online.
In the same vein, limiting downtime with a stable infrastructure is vital. Not only is downtime hugely frustrating for players, but it can also force them to consider alternative iGaming platforms, causing a loss in revenue for the site or app that has gone down. It can also damage reputation.
Only recently online gambling giant Bet365’s website went down on two separate occasions. One took place just after the Aintree Grand National race in the UK with punters unable to withdraw their winnings. The other was during a UEFA Champions League football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid. While there are no reports of the impact of these outages on Bet365’s bottom line, we can take a guess at possible revenue loss.
Good server infrastructure for iGaming platforms and casino games aggregators will have powerful processors capable of running games and serving thousands of transactions per minute. To ensure the best possible experience, your iGaming platform provider’s servers should have the latest CPUs backed by a large amount of storage capacity. They should also have security built in.
Unsurprisingly, for an industry that deals with payments, player information and the games themselves, security in iGaming is important. In the UK alone, there were a total of 259.13 million online bets placed just on real events in 2021. iGaming platforms need to be capable of securely processing huge volumes of online bets.
Compliance is also crucial. iGaming is regulated at a sovereign state level meaning that different countries and states have different legislation requirements.
Both security and compliance were key considerations for our work with casino and sportsbook platform provider, Soft2Bet. Our multiple Uptime Institute certified data centers in Europe ensure that Soft2Bet can guarantee enterprise-level security and redundancy at a data center level.
For Soft2Bet it was the “great level of cooperation offered by servers.com during assessments and audit procedures which we undergo as a regulated business” that added value on top of providing “high-performance and reliable IT infrastructure at very competitive pricing and with great support”.
Because of the importance placed on security and compliance in the iGaming industry and with online gambling technology, some iGaming platform providers and casino games aggregators choose to host their solutions on private racks. The benefit of private racks is that they don’t have to share it with other businesses – it is completely dedicated to that one iGaming platform provider. Some jurisdictions may even state that the iGaming platform needs to use a private rack for compliance.
Just as the iGaming market has grown, so has the number of hosting providers. Choosing who to work with to host your iGaming platform depends on some level what your specific requirements are. For example, you may want to start operating in one of the recently legalized states in the US which has localized legislation around online gambling.
From our perspective, regardless of what your requirements are, you should be looking to work with a hosting provider that doesn’t just offer simple delivery of servers but a consultative partnership. It’s easy to take a list of requirements and requests from a customer and implement them. A good hosting partner should ask ‘why?’.
Why do you want these specific requirements? What are you trying to achieve? What plans do you have for the future that might impact your hosting decisions today?
With answers to these questions, the hosting provider along with the customer can develop a hosting solution that meets the conscious and perhaps even unconscious needs of the business for today and for the future.
In our view, that partnership should also extend to ongoing customer support. When something goes wrong - say your iGaming platform goes down - the last thing you want is to be trying to contact the hosting provider via a bot or email.
In an industry that has its foundations online, being able to speak to an actual person when an issue arises makes a huge difference. So, look for a hosting provider that provides that personal touch.
For our customers, we assign an account manager who is directly contactable, ready to solve any concerns of issue in real time, not hours, days or even weeks after.
The proliferation and development of online gambling technology has enabled iGaming to become the billion-dollar industry that it is today. In many ways, however, it’s only just getting started.
Increasing numbers of countries and states - including the US and Canada - are legalizing iGaming. Augmented reality casinos are on the cards, bringing a fully immersive land-based casino experience to the comfort of your own home. Cryptocurrency is becoming a more widely accepted form of payment. These developments all offer iGaming platform providers and their hosting partners with new opportunities and new challenges.
If you would like to find out more about what good iGaming platform hosting looks like and how you can future proof your server infrastructure for new challenges and innovations, please get in touch. We’d love to help.