As online gaming spreads—albeit painfully slowly—across the U.S., a new phenomenon has emerged that is unique to the iGaming market: operators developing their own games.
According to the Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Database, “internal” games, which are gamed produced by the operators themselves, now account for nearly 8 percent of gross gaming revenue produced by online gaming sites in the six U.S. states where iGaming is legal.
Many of the games are online versions of table games, including live-dealer games, that are easy to reproduce without game design expertise. However, according to a report in US Bets, some operators also are launching in-house offerings that are simple five-reel slots, since internal games don’t involve the cost of licensing intellectual property from established slot manufacturers.
“The rise of internal games in online casinos does provide cost savings for operators, which is likely the leading factor for development,” Rick Eckert, managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, told US Bets. “Operators traditionally can pay suppliers 6-12 percent of revenue based on title, game mechanics, and intellectual property tied to the specific themes. This allows the operator to strategically save on expenses and potentially reinvest this savings to players through marketing initiatives and bonusing.”
According to the report, internal games are now offered by BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and other operators, with DraftKings offering the most at 54, including more than a dozen blackjack titles. DraftKings also offers traditional five-reel slots like American Treasures and Loki’s Luck, and Rocket, a non-reel game in which the player racks up winnings as a rocket rises through the air—players win if they hit “stop” before the rocket explodes.
“We have seen a lot of popularity with our exclusive DraftKings Casino games including Rocket, which in 2022 became available to players in all five states where DraftKings Casino is live,” a DraftKings spokesman told US Bets. “We love seeing positive responses to our games, it further validates that our team is creating content that resonates with our players.”
“I absolutely expect the internal segment to continue growth, and it may further be expedited by mergers and acquisitions, operators acquiring smaller suppliers,” Eckert said. “Unlike the land-based side of the market, operators don’t need to worry about hardware costs, as some newer slot machines are now running upward of $30,000 each. Instead, operators only need software development, which will likely lead to operators trying non-traditional mechanics.”