A New Software Solution?

16 April 1999
One of the first issues to tackle for aspiring Internet gaming operators is the "Java vs. client/server" software debate. Both choices have there pros and cons, but the decision often revolves around the give and take between accelerated graphics and download time. Shockwave games have also entered the picture, but there are still many who shy away from their wrongly perceived complexity of plug-ins. If only there were games which required no significant downloads, no plug-ins and no compromises with graphics… A company called Paramount Trading Inc. could hold the answer.

The Antigua-based company is touting its new website, "Paramount Casinos," as "the world's only fully interactive, real time, Internet casino." Neither downloads nor plug-ins are necessary. It's only limitation-albeit a big one-is that you must have IE 4.0 or higher to play. Plans are in order, however, to make it compatible with Netscape 4.0 as well.

How does it work? The website, located at http://www.paramount-casinos.com, utilizes a server-based gaming engine" that eliminates the need for CD-ROMs, large downloads and Java applets. Instead it uses a server-side software system developed in C++ and harnessed by Sequel Server. The game server accepts commands from the player and randomly refreshes the main screen from a hidden frame. All of the processing is done on the server, which resides in Antigua.

The results: Players can register and play in less than five minutes, the pace of play is relatively quick and the graphics aren't too shabby.

The company developed the casino under the consultation of Berkshire Interactive Technologies Inc., a Toronto based e-commerce, technical consulting and development firm. "When we entered this business we wanted to avoid becoming just like all the others--download software, ship out software, install software and deal with technical support issues," said Paramount Trading Manger Joezaine Jeffrey. "We employed the services of Berkshire Interactive Technologies Inc. to help us identify gaming technology to differentiate ourselves in the congested Internet casino market."

Berkshire's answer was to attempt eliminating the hassles involved with playing at competing online casinos. The idea was to make it as easy as possible for customers who don't have the patience to go through the registration and start-up process necessary elsewhere. "When we did our analysis of the online gaming industry we found that the business model used by other Internet based businesses was not found here" explained Berkshire CEO Neil Miller. "The customer has the ultimate power in the relationship and if they don't like what they experience… a simple click of the mouse and they are doing business with your competitor. The amount of work that the customer must do to 'play' at these Internet casinos is frightening. How many land based casinos ask you to install the roulette table before you can play?"

Naturally, providing that all the bugs are worked out, the big question regarding this new technique is whether it's secure. Time will ultimately tell, but the experts at Berkshire maintain that it's safer than other options because the software is on their computer and not the player's. Referring to the chances of the games being tampered with, Berkshire's Dan Kershaw emphasized that "someone would have to literally break into the office in Antigua to get into the system."

The site, licensed to operated a cyber casino in Antigua, is the first online gaming venture of Paramount Casinos. They haven't yet indicated plans for licensing their new software to additional operators. Games include blackjack, Pai Gow, baccarat, keno, slots and four varieties of video poker. More games are being developed, including some with multi-player capabilities. More language options and a "Play for Fun" mode will be implemented this summer.

At a glance it's an impressive and attractive alternative to what's out there, although it hasn't been around long enough to gain a track record. We'll let time have its way with it and see how what happens.