High 5 Games currently supplies slots to other online casino in New Jersey and Michigan, with a small but expanding catalog

High 5 Games Looks To Pivot From Social Gaming To Real Money Online Casino

High 5 Games, known for its social casino slots, is stepping up its efforts in the real money space. It’s following up on its recent entry into the legal online gambling market of Michigan with applications in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. So far, it has only been acting as a supplier for other online casino companies. However, it could soon be operating under its own brand.

All of these moves are part of a larger a trend. Many popular free-to-play app companies have been entering, or at least eyeing the real-money casino gaming space. A High 5 executive told Online Poker Report that the company will only continue to expand into the iGaming sector.

On Sept. 22, the content developer for the land-based, mobile, online and social markets celebrated adding its 450th High 5 Casino slot game. When High 5 Casino launched nine years ago, it only had 14 games.

High 5’s real-money online casino catalog is similarly off to a modest start – so far.

When High 5 entered the Michigan iGaming market in June with about 20 games and planned to add four to eight games every month. However, its online casino game offerings in New Jersey are more numerous – but High 5’s been in iGaming there since 2013.

High 5 CFO Robert Gansmo told Online Poker Report on Friday:

“High 5 Games is a premier provider of iGaming content to casino operators worldwide. H5G is also an operator of social casino games and, in certain jurisdictions, real-money casino games. As real money gaming legalizes across jurisdictions in the US and Canada, we will aggressively pursue those opportunities as a B2B content provider or a B2C operator of real-money casino games (tables, slots, live dealer).”

High 5 expands its online casino footprint

As of today, High 5’s iGaming operator license is still pending before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). High 5 has also applied to be an online gaming service provider in Connecticut. That application is pending before the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Gaming Division (DCP), and that market isn’t slated to launch until Oct. 7.

In its June 3 announcement about Michigan, High 5 said:

“The online casino content producer launched on Churchill Downs and WynnBet in Michigan, a move made possible by a recent deal with GAN that will help bring its games to more operators and players across the nation.”

When will High 5 make the leap to casino operation?

What’s different about the license application in PA is that it’s for an operator license, not a supplier license. Assuming the PGCB grants the license, that would allow High 5 to operate an online casino under its own brand. Gansmo’s comment hints at this as well, since he mentions the possibility of being a B2C operator.

Asked about whether a High 5 real money casino would launch in Pennsylvania, specifically, Gansmo said:

“High 5 Games cannot predict the timing of regulatory approvals, but it is our desire to press forward as soon as practicable. Realistically, that means we will not be live any earlier than 2022.”

If High 5 were to launch a real money online casino under its own brand, it would be – to the best of OPR’s knowledge – the first play money social gaming company to make that transition in the US. Some retail casino brands have begun with play money products before bringing their brand to the iGaming space. That isn’t quite the same thing, however.

As for the GAN GameStack platform detail, both companies foreshadowed High 5’s online casino game expansion plans in November 2020:

“By seamlessly integrating High 5’s content into GAN’s GameSTACK platform, players at regulated online casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan will gain access to more than 150 in-demand High 5 titles, including Double Da Vinci Diamonds, Triple Double Da Vinci Diamonds, and Secrets of the Forest. As more states green-light regulated casino gaming, High 5 will be there via the GameSTACK platform.”

Part of a larger trend

High 5 isn’t the only social games company whose real money aspirations have been making headlines. On Aug. 16, Boom Entertainment made plain its plans of offering real-money online casino games. The company that made its name in the free-to-play space is most easily identified with its flagship product, NBC Sports Predictor.

However, after its August announcements of partnerships with Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) and Rush Street Interactive (RSI), Boom revealed its larger plans to OPR.

Boom CEO Steve Murphy told OPR about some of his company’s real-money online gaming product development forecast:

“Boom plans to launch up to 20 casino games by the end of Q1 2022.”

Like High 5 – where Murphy worked before co-founding Boom – Boom will first offer real-money slots.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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