IGT’s Play-For-Fun Casino Site, DoubleDown Casino
As several states in the US move toward legal and regulated online gambling, it’s no surprise to see the world’s largest slot manufacturer vying for a spot at the table. IGT recently launched a Play-For-Fun casino site called DoubleDown Casino, and they have already announced several partnerships with land-based casinos to offer the game suite on the casinos’ websites.
Since IGT has such a deep portfolio of popular games, I wanted to take an in-depth look at their offering to see what kind of online games we can expect from them, both now and in the future.
If you log in to the casino as a guest, you will be awarded $200,000 in free chips to play. If you instead log in using your Facebook credentials, you will start with $1,000,000 in chips and your balance will be tracked from day to day. Each day that you visit the casino, you will be awarded bonus chips.
The Casino Lobby
Once you enter the casino, the first screen you see is the casino lobby, shown to the right. (You can click on any of the images in this post to see a larger version.)
Six game choices are available from the lobby: Slots, Video Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and Tournaments.
The Slot Offerings
At the time of my review, there were a total of 22 slot games available from the Slots Lobby. A few of the titles are popular IGT games you will likely recognize from land-based casinos, such as Cleopatra, DaVinci Diamonds, and American Idol. Overall though, I was expecting to see more of the common slots from the casino floor, such as Texas Tea, LobsterMania, or Wolf Run. Until more of the well-known games are added I find the selection to be disappointing. I hope that IGT will make frequent upgrades to the inventory as they continue their development.
To see all of the slot games, browse the gallery of screenshots.Click on the Cleopatra image below to begin, and you can navigate through the images using the mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard.
Three multi-player table games are offered: Blackjack, Roulette, and Poker. Players are represented by their Facebook profile photos, and chat is available. Betting and play is functional, but I did have a few problems requiring me to exit the game and re-enter on occasion. You can see screen shots of the table games in this gallery.
The poker tables seemed to be the best developed of the multi-player games, and this may be the highlight of the whole site at this time. Roulette was OK, except for the occasional trouble I had with the betting process. Overall, the roulette layout was attractive, and play moved at a pace typical of the table game.
Blackjack is always my favorite game, so I spent a fair amount of time exploring this casino area. The software could definitely use some fine-tuning here. The betting interface is very limited. There are three ways to place a bet: a “Min Bet” button, a “Max Bet” button, and a slider to choose amounts in between. Unfortunately, with only a few seconds to make your bet, it is impossible to choose an exact value using the slider. There is apparently no way to type in a bet amount, so you must just use the slider to get as close as you can to your desired amount.
Once it becomes your turn to play your hand, the full-table view moves to focus on just your hand. I found the sudden change of view to be distracting and not helpful.
The only blackjack game offered is a single deck game, so it would be nice to have more choices available. Also, while I understand the social draw of the multi-player games, it would also be useful to have a single player choice available for when you prefer to play alone at a quicker pace.
Video poker games round out the casino’s offerings, but here too the inventory is slim. The casino currently has only three video poker varieties: Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Double Double Bonus.
Similar to my complaints about the table games, I found the game play of video poker to be frustrating. Video poker is a fast-paced game, and this software really slowed down the game. No keyboard shortcuts are available for holding or discarding the cards, so you have to use the mouse to click on each card you wish to hold. For whatever reason, the game just didn’t seem to flow smoothly.
After a thorough look, I was disappointed in this first effort by IGT in the online gaming space, awarding them only 3 stars out of 10. It is clear that the overseas competitors in the online gambling software industry have a huge headstart over land-based providers like IGT, who are coming very late to the game. Online casino platforms like Microgaming and Playtech have fine-tuned their product offerings for many years now, while the US legal climate has kept companies like IGT from doing the necessary research and development to keep up. With the large US market now potentially in the balance, I’m sure that all of the major companies are hustling to make up for lost time. It looks like they have a long way to go if this software is representative of what is in the development pipeline.
Please visit DoubleDown Casino and give the games a test drive.
After all, it’s free!
After you try the casino, please let me know your thoughts in the comments here. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you’re outside the US, you can also take a look at the real online gambling experience that good software can provide.
Bet365.com uses the Playtech software platform.
All Slots Casino uses the Microgaming software platform.