Back in the day, a San Francisco mechanic built a gaming machine that started a revolution. Inside, it had three reels with simple symbols painted on them that would stop at random combinations - and if these combinations matched certain pre-defined patterns, it would pay out a small amount of cash. This device called a slot machine - and later, not so lovingly, a “one-armed bandit” - started a revolution in the gambling world, spawning an entire industry of coin-operated gambling machines that continues to grow even today.
Traditional gambling and iGaming are two very different worlds, each of them with its own particularities - being successful in one of them doesn’t guarantee success in the other. Yet there are a few companies that got a foothold in both - and achieved considerable success.
IGT (then SIRCOMA) was founded by businessman and philanthropist William "Si" Redd in 1975 as an operator of land-based coin-op gambling machines. One of its early successes was the introduction of the video poker machine - a solid-state computer with a television-like monitor - launched in 1979. It was a massively successful product that pushed the company among the most successful ones at the time. It changed its name to IGT (International Game Technology) a couple of years later.
IGT slots were prolific in American casino resorts thanks in part to their extra features like frequent player bonuses and jackpots - both of them are quite popular to this day.
With a profitable land-based gaming business, IGT was not in a hurry to go online in the mid-1990s but it soon caught up, acquiring WagerWorks in 2005. Since then, it has expanded its digital desktop and mobile offering and landed quite a few lucrative contracts with several North American operators, including Canada’s OLG and LotoQuébec.
Closer to home, we shouldn’t forget about Aristocrat, one of the world’s biggest gambling companies today. Founded in the 1950s by Leonard Ainsworth in Sydney, Australia, the company produced its first slot machine in 1953. The company was successful and continued to grow until Ainsworth sold it in 1981 - he later went on to create another one, called Ainsworth Gaming, that he sold as well.
Today, Aristocrat is serving customers in more than 200 jurisdictions both with lottery terminals and gambling machines and online gambling products. Besides, it is the owner of Big Fish Games, the well-known casual game development studio behind (among others) Big Fish Casino, a social casino app.
Finally, here’s a European contender that successfully transitioned to the great online: Austrian company Novomatic (owner of Ainsworth Gaming, by the way).
Novomatic was founded by Austrian billionaire Johann Graf in the 1970s - it initially imported pinball machines from neighboring Belgium, then transitioned the production and distribution of its own machines under the Admiral brand. In time, Novomatic expanded globally, delivering gaming equipment to gambling outlets and operating its own network as well.
Novomatic’s successful land-based games were published by a studio called Greentube in the 2000s - that until the company decided to acquire it in 2010, making it part of its own portfolio. Since then, the company has completed further acquisitions, expanding further both online and in real life.
Today, Novomatic is one of the largest European gambling companies, successful and popular both online and in real life.