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Gaining prominence on the internet gambling message boards over the past few days is an intriguing software switch which thus far appears to involve Microgaming-powered online casinos, and could have implications for US players.
Although no public announcements have been made, both players and affiliates have reported receiving emails from their casinos/affiliate managers indicating that a major software change is in the works.
The first casino group out of the gate appears to have been the Casino Share / Grand Mondial operation, with players reporting unavailable websites and affiliates noting affiliate program communications along the following lines:
"As of the 1st of June, 2010, play for US players on CasinoShare and Grand Mondial will be moved off the Microgaming platform and we will begin licensing software from a brand new software provider.
"The new software will have a similar look and feel, stability and most of the features you have become accustomed to, but with some notable changes. This change has been made in order to ensure that we are able to continue offering safety, service and exciting gaming to all our customers.
"This new casino, called CasinoShare US, launches on the 17th of May, 2010, and will offer players the same look and feel as the Microgaming software they all know and love, as well as all of the features and most of the games they have come to expect from an online casino.
"When is this all going to happen?
"All US players at CasinoShare will be migrated to CasinoShare US by the 17th of May, 2010, whilst all US players at Grand Mondial will be migrated on the 31st of May, 2010.
"From a player perspective, the migration process will be completely seamless and (they) won't be required to download new software or open a new account. They will utilize their existing accounts and their balances will be transferred."
Other online casino groups flagged include the large Casino Rewards group, and Players Palace which has apparently agreed a deal with Casinoshare US to handle its US traffic. Casinoshare has previous experience in white label operations.
Players Palace affiliates were told that the new software will "offer players the same look and feel as the Players Palace Microgaming software they all know and love, as well as all of the features and most of the games they are currently playing at Players Palace. Essentially the branding will change to be more US-centric but the gaming experience, including the customer promotions will remain the same."
Several Casino Rewards players have reported similar communications with support personnel, and were told:
"Microgaming is currently updating their casino systems to provide you with a better gaming experience, due to this system upgrade, your casino account will be unavailable until the upgrade completion. We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused by this, however, Microgaming will hopefully complete this upgrade quickly, and you will be able to once again access your account and continue to use our great services.
"Please try to login again from time to time as these updates should be completed soon. However we do not have an exact timeframe as to how long it will take until all maintenance is completed. It might be that the casino is unavailable for several days."
The widespread reports have generated some lively if unconfirmed speculation, with the consensus being that the imminent implementation of the UIGEA regulations in the United States on June 1st may have motivated Microgaming to license its popular software - with some branded game exceptions - to an independent and entirely separate software provider that will sign up its own operator contracts for those online casino companies wishing to operate in the United States.
Such a move would further distance Microgaming, which has tried harder than most to stay within the confines of the confusing and questionable US online casino gambling laws, from that market.
This could serve to underline the Isle of Man company's bona fides should it at some future stage wish to enter a US market with clearer legal boundaries.
Invitations to comment addressed to Microgaming and CasinoShare were declined as InfoPowa went to press.
Source: InfoPowa News
Editor's note: we were tipped to this a couple of months ago by someone "in the know". This is just the first of many Microgaming casino groups who will be launching dedicated casinos for U.S. customers in the coming months. Whether they will start accepting new customers from the United States is still unclear at this point in time.