Rival was set up in 2006 and first offered anti-fraud systems for online casinos. Their game selection was initially pretty small, but more Rival-powered casinos appeared over a short space of time. In fact, Rival is probably as well-known to online blackjack, Keno and roulette players today as it is to slots fans. Rival online casinos are packed with a large selection of video poker, blackjack and other table games that have been popular with players.
It’s interesting to note that Rival first appeared on the scene just as North American residents were being shut out of internet gambling following the introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or simply UIGEA (details of UIGEA on this PDF) back in 2006. While many top gaming software companies like UK-based Playtech and super-popular Migrograming high-tailed it out of the US, Rival remained to take up a piece of this huge, but potentially risky market. Since then the company has licensed its games and its casino platform to over 40 operators world-wide. Rival Gaming left the US market in 2011, after considerable pressure from authorities. They still exist in many markets, where online gaming is not strictly legal.
The decision to stay in the US market for so long after UIGEA had been passed was good and bad for the company. It certainly put them on the map in what was a very crowded market place before the bill came in and no doubt they would have made a lot of money in that time. However, they made some interesting choices in terms of licensees of their software and there were a number of customer complaints made against Rival-powered casinos. This was not something Rival was doing, but by association their brand was often linked to a handful of rogue casinos, who operated on dubious licenses in far-flung jurisdictions. They were also accused of using adware in their software and several threads exist online of how to get this software off your PC. That being said, Rival have managed to weather the storm and still have a strong presence in several online casinos.
What really marks Rival Gaming out is their series of i-Slots. These are themed online slots that progress through a rough ‘storyline’. As the story unfolds, you get the chance to see new screens, new symbols, new bonus rounds, and new payouts. And if you log out of the slot for the night, when you start playing again you can pick up where you left off.
Rival’s Spy Game slot, a slice of slick James Bond-style slots action, has original graphics, nice cutaway animation, and skill-based elements that are straight out of a video game. Part of your mission is to “assemble” a bomb with various Scatters, while a “Game Map” button allows you to track your progress anytime in the mission.
Similarly, the crime-themed Reel Crime starts with a comic-book, Dick Tracy-style intro sequence but leads into an online slot with multiple layers typical of the immersive Rival slots. The game has four stages – casing the bank, getting in, blowing the safe, and finally, getting away with the cash. Again, there’s a ‘Game Map’ where you can track your progress through the bonus rounds, making this slot much more engaging than your bog-standard offerings online.
As for Progressive Jackpots there are just a handful of games doing the rounds as of February 2014, with the Major Moolah slot (not to be confused with the Mega Moolah progressive), One Million Reels BC and Strike Gold among the better titles.
Rival games are available in both download and instant-play, Flash, versions, and can be played on Macs and PC. They have also made a plunge into the mobile gaming market and are slowly rolling out slots on handheld devices.
It’s not just games that Rival Gaming are involved in, however. They also developed the Rival In-Touch system for use in accessing casino reports on smartphones, plus the RivalPro tool for casino data management.