A flurry of football-themed games have been released this week ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup, alongside a new Egyptian slot from Microgaming and Yggdrasil's novel take on blackjack.
The Stars Group's casino brand has kicked off a football-heavy line-up with a hat-trick of new titles based around the beautiful game. Matchday Millions, a slot game developed by the operator's in-house team, has already launched, with Star Lineup and live dealer title Live Football Studio slated for release next week, in time for the tournament's opening fixtures on Thursday June 14th.
Matchday Millions is linked to the same progressive jackpot prize pool as two other proprietary titles, Millionaires Island and Stars Mega Spin, offering players a $1m minimum guaranteed jackpot.
The shared jackpot currently stands at $1.5m, after a player on Millionaires Island won a $3m prize earlier this week.
"We're making a big splash this summer, first with the launch of our biggest betting promotion in history, the Stars £100 Million Challenge. Now our World Cup-fuelled entertainment has spread to our casino," said PokerStars Casino managing director Bo Wänghammar said.
"We hope that Matchday Millions can create another millionaire during the World Cup, adding to the twelve millionaires we have already created at PokerStars Casino."
Stars Lineup is another football-themed slot, which comes with a four-tier jackpot system, through which players can win between $50 and $100,000.
Live Football Studio is a fast-paced live dealer title where cards are dealt to the home and away sides, with players betting on which will get the higher card.
Alongside the new casino titles, The Stars Group is launching $1m Spin & Goal tournaments on PokerStars, a World Cup-themed Spin & GO tournament enhanced with BetStars prizes. This complements the £100 Million Challenge promotion which launched across all Stars Group brands in May.
Realistic Games is also in on the action with the release of Slot It In!, a five-reel, ten-line HTML5 game featuring a range of football symbols such as a whistle, football, trophy and boots.
Players will kick off a bonus round when they manage to score three of the same symbols on each of the five reels, for the chance to boost their winnings.
"The world will be going football crazy this summer, and it is more important then ever for operators to make the most of this opportunity," Realistic commercial director Robert Lee said.
"By combining one of sport's most talked about events with great football-themed graphics, a big bonus round, and a soundtrack to boot, we are confident that Slot It In! will become a winner."
Wazdan's soccer-themed offering is Football Mania Deluxe, a new slot title that puts players on the pitch at a football stadium. Play is accompanied by a cheering crowd and big wins are announced with a fanfare of vuvuzela, the horns that became as much a part of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as the football.
To win, players have to find seven identical symbols anywhere on the screen, with a blocking feature allowing them to hold a number in place as they spin the reels again.
"This is a game for football fans and they're people with a lot of passion," Wazdan head of sales Andrzej Hyla said. "Ahead of a packed World Cup game calendar we're delighted to be bringing a great new slot to the fans with so many special features to keep players coming back.
"Football Mania Deluxe is an engaging and fulfilling experience for anyone curious looking to try something really new."
The game is the second major release of the week for Wazdan after Tetri Mania Deluxe, a video slot inspired by the iconic tile-matching game Tetris.
SkillOnNet is also tapping into football fever with its new Spin-A-Mini network promotion. The platform provider behind the PlayOJO, DrueckGlueck and LuckyNiki brands is giving away a brand new Mini Cooper each week during this summer's World Cup.
Starting from June 14th and running until July 15th, the promotion will be available on all brands powered by SkillOnNet, including sites such as SlotsMagic, MegaCasino and QueenVegas.
Each week the prize will be awarded through play on a different slot. For the first week of the World Cup, NextGen's Foxin' Wins Football Fever will be the featured game, followed by Yggdrasil's Vikings Go to Hell for the week commencing June 21st. From June 28th, Play'n Go's Legacy of Egypt offer players the chance to win, followed by GVG's Ninja Master from July 5th.
Players simply play 100 spins on the eligible slot for that week, receiving a free daily casino tournament ticket that gives them access to free spins.
Wins from the free spins mode are logged on a leaderboard, with the player topping the table at the end of the week taking home the Mini.
"Football fever will be taking over the world this summer, and we wanted to celebrate with a special give-away for all of our players across our network of brands," SkillOnNet's Michael Golembo said.
"It's a unique casino promotion over four weeks with four Mini Coopers to win, plus lots of other prizes like once-in-a-lifetime trips to dream destinations! And thanks to all our slot provider partners for helping us to make Spin-a-Mini special for our players.
"SkillOnNet powers some of the hottest online casino sites in Europe, but given the global nature of this summer's football tournament, we wanted to offer a big online casino promotion that would appeal to our players around the world," he added.
Completing this week's World Cup squad is The Million Pound Bet, a new competition launched by BetVictor, which guarantees that players can win up to £1m from a £1 stake.
To be in with a chance of winning the top prize, players have to place a winning bet with the biggest odds on any World Cup market. If there is more than one winner, the prize will be shared equally among the winning players.
Only single bets are eligible for the competition and players can use BetVictor's #PriceItUp Builder, allowing them to create a single bet comprising up to ten different factors from each game.
BetVictor will also give away a daily prize of £5,000 for the customer who wins a bet at the highest odds on each of the World Cup's 25 matchdays, with £1.25m to be awarded through the promotional period.
"We're incredibly excited about the World Cup which will be the highlight of the sporting year," BetVictor head of product Eoin Ryan said. "The Million Pound Bet is the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes to ensure we give customers real value and a great betting experience during the forthcoming World Cup with an opportunity to win a fantastic prize for a minimum stake of one pound.
"Our recently launched #PriceItUp Builder will be a perfect product for customers to use as they seek to create a bet that could top the leader board," Ryan added. "Hopefully it encourages customers to trust their instinct and embrace the unpredictable."
Away from the footballing action, Microgaming is offering players the chance to uncover the wonders of Ancient Egypt in its new slot Wild Scarabs.
The game's reels are set against the backdrop of Egypt, with the Wild Deal feature triggered when players land on a wild on the third reel during a non-winnings pin. This releases four extra wilds onto the reels, granting players a guaranteed win.
Hidden treasure can then be uncovered with three or more scatters unlocking ten free spins, and the Stashed Wilds feature. This sees any non-winning scarab symbols collected. Once three or more are collected the bugs are released back onto the reels to award prizes.
"Wild Scarabs is a stunning slot with two exciting wild features. Wild Deal™ gives players a chance to win on a non-winning spin in the base game, while scarabs can be can be collected during free spins as Stashed Wilds," Microgaming games publisher David Reynolds said. "Delivering rich colours and incredible graphics, the game is really brought to life, transporting players back in time to Ancient Egypt."
Yggdrasil, meanwhile, aims to reinvent online casino with the launch of its first ever table game, Sonya Blackjack.
Using motion capture technology, the multiplayer title uses intuitive mobile gameplay and a 3D dealer to create a fully immersive environment.
Up to three players can sit at a single table, with others able to stand and watch, seeing how much they are betting and winning. It offers all features commonly found in blackjack games such as Insurance, Even Money, Split, Double and Double After Spit, as well as a number of unique features.
All aspects of the game, including the dealer and background, can be fully customised by operators.
"Yggdrasil has a track record of ripping up the rulebook to deliver products that reinvent online casino and Sonya Blackjack is no different," Yggdrasil chief product officer Krzysztof Opalka said.
"Never before has a table game product been so customisable. With our 3D modelling, operators have unlimited opportunities to create brand- and event-specific environments, at a significantly lower cost than with live dealer.
"We look forward to seeing Sonya in action and will continue to drive forward the table games vertical over the coming months in much the same way we have with slots."
The week has also seen games developers agree integrations with a number of new partners, including a deal for Pragmatic Play with Italian operator OIA Services.
"Partnering with one of Italy's largest operator groups is a significant deal for us, as it allows us to expand our operations in one of Europe's fastest growing markets," Pragmatic Play chief commercial officer Melissa Summerfield said.
"We are thrilled that our award-winning portfolio of games will now be available to Betaland and EnjoyBet players. We're looking forward to working closely with the team at OIA Services going forward."
OIA Services managing director Michele Sprovieri added: "It's very important that our customers have an online gaming experience that includes the very best games available on the market.
"Pragmatic Play has an established reputation as a premium games developer, and we jumped at the opportunity to work with them. We look forward to having a long and fruitful relationship."
While Pragmatic Play has expanded its Italian presence, Betsoft Gaming has moved into the Hungarian market for the first time.
It has partnered online operator Grand Casino, which will launch an extensive slot portfolio of Betsoft titles.
Grand Casino owned by the company behind the land-based casino of the same name, and has been approved to offer iGaming in the tightly-regulated Hungarian market – one of only two companies to secure a licence.
"With a team of international iGaming veterans, supported by more than twenty years of land-based experience at the group level, Grand Casino recognises the importance of not just acquiring new players, but keeping existing ones engaged," Betsoft account manager Aaron Axisa said. "At Betsoft, we believe strongly in rewarding players with exciting experiences they will not find anywhere else, so we are thrilled to be able to work towards this shared goal with a partner who shares our principles."
Grand Casino chief marketing officer Shanta Segabon added: "We have a cast-iron commitment to creating the best possible player journey, through continuous product innovation.
"As early entrants to a new market, our success will be determined by two factors: how well we satisfy and retain players, and our ability to partner with first class content providers like Betsoft."
Las Vegas-based bingo and keno developer Gaming Arts has also agreed a new partnership, inking a distribution deal with Canadian gaming supplier Bet Rite Inc.
This will see Bet Rite distribute Gaming Arts bingo and keno titles, along with related management solutions, to Canadian lottery corporations.
"The Bet Rite team has established strong and trusted relationships with Canada's gaming operators," Gaming Arts president Mike Dreitzer said. "We look forward to leveraging those partnerships to penetrate the Canada market with our entertaining suite of end-to-end bingo and keno solutions, including our new SuperBingo™ suite of electronic gaming machines."
Bet Rite president Billy MacLellan added: "We look forward to adding Gaming Arts' innovative keno and bingo solutions to our portfolio and to working with Mike Dreitzer and the team.
"Gaming Arts has many products in their extensive offering that will help operators in Canada even further delight players and drive revenues that will benefit Canada's health, education, and community programs."
iGaming software developer EvenBet Gaming blows the whistle on this week's games round-up with a deal to integrate its poker product on Malta-based supplier We Are Casino's platform.
"It's very pleasing to announce this deal with We Are Casino, [which is] a rising star," EvenBet Gaming chief executive Dmitry Starostenkov said. "In a highly competitive sector, the challenge is to bring a fresh and creative angle to the world of casino, and our game-changing poker product is reimagining this arena.
"Our poker product can be easily integrated into existing casinos and sportsbooks, giving players greater choice, while boosting engagement and retention for operators."
We Are Casino chief commercial officer Christian Maglia added: "We are delighted to be able to offer our partners EvenBet's full range of poker games, thereby enhancing all We Are Casino's operators' offerings with this world-class platform. We feel sure it will prove a successful long-term relationship.
"We were particularly drawn to the ease of integration, coupled with EvenBet's 15 years' experience and commitment to reinvigorating in the gaming domain. Especially with a mind to improving player loyalty and engagement, which is a major concern for traditional sportsbooks and casinos."