Although NetEnt was founded in 1996, the history of the company goes way back as it was in the 70’s that one of Scandinavia’s leading off-line casino operators known as Cherry, had to change its entire business model after slot machines were banned in Sweden and the foundation of Cherry’s business disappeared within a month and an extensive reorganisation was initiated.
In 1984, though, Cherry acquired a number of former operating Swedish gaming companies financing the acquisitions with newly issued shares, the basis for a newly created group.
Between 1986 and 1991, the company provided slot machines to casinos in a number of East European countries, but in 1992 the board resolves to streamline operations and slim down or close down in Eastern Europe.
It was in this same period the internet came about and Pontus Lindwall realised the best way for Cherry to grow would be by getting involved in the iGaming industry, even though the ‘world wide web’ was in those days far away from the idea to be the number one communication tool all over the world. Personal computers were already widespread but limited in capacity and applications.
In 1996 Pontus Lindwall started Net Entertainment of which the name was changed into NetEnt in May 2015. Lindwall convinced Cherry and Kinnevik, one of the largest listed investment companies in Europe, to invest in the company. The two companies agreed to invest 75 million SEK, these days around 8,5 million euros, towards the development of NetEnt. The result, a successful internet gaming practice as this leading software supplier in iGaming found its way through what can be called a fast growing and dynamic industry, becoming one of the pioneers in the industry with a strong history in casino gaming.
Although a fast growing market, it wasn’t always easy with the internet taking a while to become accepted as a reliable channel for consumption. The capacity of hard disks grew fast, internet connections came available everywhere and the internet speed increased day by day. Consumers, however, were hesitating in buying products and services through the internet because of the lack of safe payment environments. Banks and other financial service providers were looking for it together with companies that were convinced that if this problem was solved, the internet would be one big worldwide market for all kinds of products and services.
No sooner said than done, several safe payment environments became available to the internet, resulting in an unexpected growth of the internet gaming despite the fact that many governments were prohibiting online gambling in order to protect their national land-based casinos and lotteries.
On the other hand, it has to be told that among the many online casinos that popped up, a significant number were unreliable, based in countries where control and regulation was completely absent.
In that same period, Malta was one of the countries being in an early stage of regulating online gambling sites, now offering a regulated market with a strong supervision on the interests of both, the operators and their online casinos, providers, as well as the consumers.
Other countries followed and today there is a huge regulated market with a large number of reliable operators offering a wide range of casino games to the players and sophisticated tools for governance, payment transactions, and data protection.
“The history of NetEnt goes way back, but I believe the bright future of world’s leading casino software provider will go even further.”
In 2016, NetEnt was celebrating its 20th anniversary, an exciting 20 years with lots of successes, but success didn’t come straight away. It was in 1996 that NetEnt started as Net Entertainment with one office in Stockholm, 3 employees, 2 servers, 1 yearly transaction, and 1 customer. It took NetEnt 7 years to make a profit, but little did NetEnt know what success could be found just around the corner.
Three years later, in 2006, NetEnt opened a second office in Malta after the company received a casino license granted by the Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA). A logical step with Malta as the first country to regulate gambling websites in a strict environment in order to bring operators and consumers the control so desperately needed.
Later on, more offices have been opened in Gothenburg, Gibraltar, Kiev, Krakow, and New Jersey. With the business going so well, it was in 2007 that NetEnt (still called Net Entertainment) went public in 2007, listed on Nasdaq Stockholm.
By 2017, NetEnt employs over 900 employees, has developed 200+ high-quality casino games and mobile casino games (NetEnt Touch®), went from 2 servers to an impressive 3500 servers while around 175 customers are now offering the entire suit or a selection of the most popular NetEnt Games.
NetEnt mobile games, Touch®
NetEnt had a slow start, but as the iGaming industry grew so did NetEnt. The company has always been a pioneer and the NetEnt Games have always been at the top of the market, no matter how many software companies entered the market trying to compete with the Swedish/Maltese giant.
For all parties, it was a blessing that the numbers of players grew from several thousand to hundreds of millions, with a surge of new casino games and promotions, an endless process so it seems, one that never comes to any saturation.
Meanwhile, also new devices conquered the world and it’s not unusual when on a sunny terrace different people are playing on their tablets or smartphones, trying out one of NetEnt’s new mobile casino games, added to the incredible range of Touch® games.
Just as NetEnt can be called a pioneer when it comes to the development of online casino games, the company definitely deserves the same tag for the mobile games. This rather new product of which the first game was launched in 2011 is now one of their key products with 40% of NetEnt’s revenues coming from the NetEnt Touch® games at the end of 2016.
Nowadays, with technology moving on so quickly, it’s hard to imagine that it has been only 5 years ago that Gonzo’s Quest Touch® was released as NetEnt’s first mobile game at only a few mobile casinos available in the iGaming industry.
The end of an era
When the company’s future becomes a chapter of its own in the history of the company, it’s a sign that a company has been around for a while. It was in 2016 that NetEnt said goodbye to what once was part of the company’s future.
There was a time that a series of video slots with a Wild, Scatter, and a Bonus Game was offering online casino players innovation and excitement, just to be overtaken by a new generation of video slots 8 years later. This sad story belongs to the Wonders video slots which consisted of Icy Wonders™, Tiki Wonders™, and Geisha Wonders™ that together shared two progressive jackpots. The good news is that a part of what once was a successful series of video slots lives on Divine Fortune™, a jackpot slot belonging to the new generation of video slots bringing new slot excitement and innovative slot feature to the NetEnt Casino. What can I say, game technology moves on and so does NetEnt.
Today NetEnt is seen as the leading developer of online casino games, live casino games and mobile casino games, with dozens of successful NetEnt casino operators that are offering their casino games and using NetEnt’s gaming networks to please their clients in the best way with eye for the interests of the players in terms of safe payments, (personal) data protection and the risks of addiction.
NetEnt is unique in the market, also because of the fact that the company does not have any casino operation of its own, nor any interests in such operations, with a focus strategy on casino games, responsible for the company’s success so far.
The past was all about expanding their casino games portfolio, as well as investing in the live games and mobile games. I’m 100% sure NetEnt will keep on surprising the iGaming industry due to the high quality, rich graphics, intriguing bonus games, cutting-edge animations, innovative features and functions, the key to previous successes and tomorrow’s inventions.