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New Slots

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While every player has their favourite slots game, games that have gained a well-deserved place in the pantheon of slots royalty - like Starburst, Cleopatra II, Thunderstruck II, Immortal Romance or Gonzo’s Quest - variety is the spice of life and there can be no doubt that everyone loves the opportunity to try something new and engage with novelty that new slots games offer.

Recent years have seen online casinos expanding their portfolios in a shift from operators running on a single casino software platform to operator offering an array of software providers with hundreds of games available in the one place.

This has blown the market wide open, allowing scores of new smaller companies, who perhaps don’t have the portfolio to offer a complete casino suite, to gain traction providing additional games as part of a package of softwares bought in by casino operators. This increase competition on the markets has fostered creativity and ingenuity as software providers strive to create new slots games providing users with an experience that they haven’t seen before.

Established industry leaders like NetEnt and Microgaming lead the pack, constantly pushing forward with new and creative slot bonus features. Net Entertainment in particular have really set a high bar in terms of innovation with bonus features and game structures from the old staple of free spins and pick and click bonus features. NetEnt’s creative approach had challenged other providers to match them in terms of player driven games intended to keep you engaged and entertained.

This is a challenge that has been gratefully accepted by many up and coming firms. Yggdrasil Gaming have really stepped up to the play with their Vikings series (most recently Vikings go to Hell) offering a spectacular visual feast while the bonus features draw the user in as you progress towards triggering the bonus feature. Releases from this provider are continuing to improve and we’ve little doubt that players will be excited to see what they’ve got in store.

Play N Go are another top slots game production house release games with superb graphics and a intuitive user interface. Their bonus features are getting consistently better and the slot RTP figures are certainly in the competitive zone.

WMS Gaming have redefined slots games by allowing players to buy multiple spins at once. When you buy groups of spins at higher stakes you get improved chances of triggering bonus feature and a increased RTP figure (meaning the game costs less to play in the long run).

There’s plenty new to see in the online slots sector, so keep an eye this section to find out about the latest releases!

International Day of Forests

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Every year since 2012 on March the 21st the UN asks its members to take time to celebrate and promote the importance of the world’s forests. Last year the focus was on ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ and this year the organisation is turning its attention to education.

The message is that none of us are too old and none of us are too young to learn more about the forests that we unconsciously rely on. The promotional video sees a young girl with an uncanny resemblance to Little Red Riding Hood enter a terrifying forest only to have her eyes and mind opened to the “beauty”, the “wonder” and the “treasures” that lie within.

If you need more than some persuasive language and an emotional video to convince you of the importance of forests, then perhaps some of these facts and statistics can do the job:

Over 80% of the entire planet’s land animals and plants live in forests and they cover roughly 31% of the world’s total land area. Around 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods and to support daily sustenance. Over 25% of the medicines that we rely on are derived from rainforest plants. This is already a big deal but it could be even bigger when you consider that we have only studied 1% of rainforest plants for medicinal properties, suggesting that the 25% reliance we currently have could increase.

Rainforests aren’t just a preventative or a cure to illnesses, they are our planet’s lungs, producing more than 40% of the earth’s oxygen. We need forests to protect us from natural disasters such as flooding and mudslides. And if all this wasn’t vital enough, forests and forest soil store more carbon than we have in our atmosphere, estimated at roughly 1 trillion tonnes.

Yet, despite all of this we continue to place profit over the sustainability of our forests, the animals that live in them and the long-term future of our own species. Every year it is estimated that 1000 orangutans die as a result of deforestation and the profits that can be made from the destruction of natural rainforest in exchange for acres of palm oil trees. There are only somewhere in the region of 6000 orangutans left living in the wild today, which if we continue to destroy their habitat at its current rate could mean their extinction within the next decade. The palm oil produced from these man-made jungles is a cheap alternative to other oils that turns up in a vast array of cheap household products, everything from soaps and shampoos, to chocolate and fizzy drinks.

Without significant changes our reliance on palm oil is only set to increase. It is estimated that by 2030 the world’s population will reach a staggering 8.5 billion. More people will mean that challenges such as world hunger and climate change will dominate our futures. Our reliance on rainforests for food, medicine and oxygen will be so profound that if we don’t start preparing now, there could be disastrous consequences for much of our planet within the next 10 years.

Whilst there are good news stories across the globe the facts of the matter are that every year we lose 130,000 square km of forests, that’s an amount equating to roughly the same size as England. We need to worry less about the use of wood and paper, as much of this is now harvested from sustainable sources and focus our concerns on our over-reliance on palm oil. The only way we can make a difference is to shop around and leave products containing palm oil on the shelves until the message begins to sink in, that we place our futures and the future of 80% of earth’s land animals above the profits of huge corporations.

The solution sounds easy enough but the whole point of palm oil is that it is cheap and it is easy to grow. Hence, we get cheap affordable products that helps to keep the weekly shop down. And it wouldn’t just be our pockets that would suffer. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry that employs thousands of people living in some of the poorest parts of the world. If we take away their livelihood then how do they pay their bills and feed their families? In other words, if this really is easy then surely we’d already be doing it? Ending our reliance on palm oil would involve sacrifice but nothing like the sacrifices that we could be facing in over a decade when the full force of our current levels of deforestation, coupled with a huge increase in population, are brought home to roost.

The point of International Day of Forests in 2019 is to begin at home. The UN want us to explore the woodlands ands forests on our doorsteps so that we can begin to appreciate the life within them. They want to ensure that “there are scientists, policy makers, foresters and local communities working to halt deforestation and restore degraded landscapes.”

Last year Secretary General of the UN António Guterres finished his key-note speech on International Day of Forests with the following statement :

“Leaves, and trees, and all plants, are a vital accompaniment to human life. As we celebrate spring, let us celebrate them. I have a particular personal reason to do so. When I was born, my grandfather, the father of my mother, whose name is a family name, that I still keep, that is Oliveira, that is in Portuguese “olive tree”, the day I was born he planted an olive tree. And the olive tree is still there, probably in better health than myself. And I believe it will still be there many years after I no longer [will be] around.

But there is one thing in trees that I find particularly important: it is how they are a symbol of dignity. It is not by chance that trees die standing. And so let us, with this symbolic gesture of today, remind ourselves that we need to do everything we can, not only for a healthy planet but [also] for human dignity to be safeguarded in an healthy planet.”

This year’s message might change, with a focus on the importance of education, but the over-arching message will not and cannot change: That we need to look after the world’s forests today so that we can enjoy the future.

Slots

As always, I’ll be using this world event to bring to you a list of slots games that reflect the theme in question. As it is International Day of Forests I am going to be looking at games that are set in jungles, forests or woods. I will only showcase what I believe are the very best games that this theme has to offer, which means that nothing on the list will have scored less than 7 out of 10 on initial review.

This list will contain 5 games in total. It was a list that was difficult to narrow down, but would have involved a lot of repetition of very similar types of games if we had spun it out to a list of 10. This means that the list might be shorter but the 5 games on it are offering plenty of variety for anyone who wants to go and check them out.

Given this year’s theme, and the promotional video that has been created to help sell the occasion, we will have 2 games that are based on the Little Red Riding Hood stories, whilst the other three games on our list will be nestling in front of or within the most incredible looking woods, forests or jungles.

Fairy Tale Legends - Red Riding Hood

Part of the Fairy Tale Legends series, this game was an instant hit with us when Net Entertainment released back in 2016. The game looked fantastic back then and, to be completely honest, it still does 3 years down the line. What made this game such a hit with us was the number of bonus features that it had to offer. This is one of those games that feels as if there is never a dull moment. Just take a look at the paytable and see the number of pages that make it up. I counted 8 features in total, making this the perfect game for anyone with some sort of attention deficit disorder. As for the woods? Well, they make up the game’s background but you really get to grips with them when you trigger the “Beware the Wolf” bonus feature that sees you deep in the heart of whatever woods the story was originally set in.

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Gnome Wood

MicroGaming really brought the “beauty”, the “wonder” and the “treasures” of the forest to life when they made Gnome Wood. They came up with of the sort of woods that might exist in an Irish or Scottish myth and then what they did was they added more colour, more light, more toadstools, more creatures and, as the title wood suggest, they added some Gnomes. Again, this game is heavy on the features, not quite as heavy as our previous entry but there are still a lot on this list and very little chance of you getting board as you play.

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Jungle Books

Yggdrasil know how to make their games look good. They also know how to get their titles onto more than one of our lists. Already featuring on our International Soil Day article, Jungle Books makes it onto this list for almost the same reasons. The game is incredible to look at, partly down to the superbly drawn characters (most of whom you will recognise from a famous Rudyard Kipling novel, turned Disney movie, with a very similar title) but also because the Jungle itself is so well designed. It might only be a drawing, it might only be a slot game, but the life that emanates from that jungle typifies everything that we should cherish in our rainforests.

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Wicked Tales: Dark Red

Wicked Tales: Dark Red sees MicroGaming take their turn at reinventing the famous fairy tale. This time round things are a little bit more grown up. Little Red Riding Hood is a little less little and little bit more voluptuous, whilst the Wolf is a terrifyingly, gnarled ball of muscly fur, that you could never in a million years mistake for your gran. The reels are laid out in an interesting shape that actually shifts throughout the spins and the woods sit in the background, very much like the woods in the opening sequence of the International Day of Forests promotional video. You won’t find quite as many features in this game as some of the early entries on the list but you will find enough to keep you entertained throughout.

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Jumanji

This is another game to have made it onto a previous list, but this time it is not just the rhino we are interested in. You have a game within a game, which is absolutely prefect for an imaginative slots designer who wants to create an inventive, immersive slots experience. That is exactly what Net Entertainment did with this game, in what was one of their most anticipated releases of 2018. The jungle is brought to life around the boardgame shaped reels, with plants and animals sneaking their way across symbols as you look to try and win big. The game looks fantastic and contains a number of animals could face the same potentially tragic fate as that of the orangutan if we do not do something to reverse the current trend of deforestation.

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Conclusions

There were a number of excellent games that I would have loved to have included in a longer list but a lot of them are no longer available to play. Games like “Heart of the Jungle” and “Jungle 7s” that you won’t find stocked in any casinos. There was also one notable emission from our list, “Jungle Spirit – Call of the Wild”, a game that is as good as any on this list and if we had 6 spaces it would have been there, without a shadow of a doubt.

Hopefully if there is a chance to write up another list on the 21st of March 2030, many of the predictions that have been made now will not come to pass because of the differences we start making to preserve out planet’s forests now.

Classic Slots

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There are some online slot games that will forever be seen as classics by players. They are not always the games that critics (like us) think are the most impressive. They are the games that players vote for with their fingers. The games that get disproportionately high volumes of spins. The games that players come back to again and again and again.

Every software provider knows which games fall into these categories, many will try to copy the themes and styles of the most popular games offered by their competition, and gambling forums are full of players talking about wins on these big hitters of the slots world.

These games stand the test of time, appealing to something in the playing community that is hard to place a finger on, but once tapped into demands loyalty from slots lovers everywhere.

Take NetEnt’s Starburst. Deconstructed, this game would not appear to offer anything all that spectacular. But the game sums to far more than its parts. Something about the aesthetic combined with that spacy soundtrack, the ratio and size of wins and the free spins with expanding wild symbols has made this easily one of the most popular slots games of all time.

If creating a classic slot game was easy, everyone would be doing it. The combination however, is intangible. Hard to define and harder to recreate. Game after game has been put out by competing providers trying to capture that x-factor that Starburst captured, but all have fallen well short of their goal. Even Net Entertainment have not managed to re-create this success.

And NetEnt are far from alone in this experience. Look to Microgaming’s Immortal Romance and Thunderstruck II. Both games that could be considered old by current market standard, yet both games that consistently rank highly on many operators lists of ‘most played games’.

Whatever it is that lodges these games so firmly in the consciousness of slots players everywhere, these games have reached heady heights with their appeal and longevity amongst players.

Casino Complaints

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Here at ThePOGG, the busiest section of our site is definitely the casino complaints section. We deal with a large number of player complaints and the number of complaints being submitted to our mediation service is growing all the time. We believe that every player has a right to fair treatment and that casino support staff have the right to work in an abuse free environment – a rule that we enforce on our site too.

We have a vast amount of experience dealing with complaints management arising from a variety of the areas associated with online casinos. Casino bonuses generate a fair number of complaints at this portal – often such complaints arise as a result of player mistakenly not completing wagering requirements associated with the bonus, or breaches of the maximum bet term stipulated for a particular bonus. Reading bonus terms and conditions is of paramount importance when accepting a bonus.

Casino software also gives rise to a number of complaints for a variety of reasons ranging from genuine glitches to provably unfair games. Our complaints manager’s background in mathematics and statistics means a unique skillset is at our disposal in-house when we are investigating such issues: a definite advantage to our users.

More and more complaints are arising as a result of responsible gambling issues but luckily gambling regulators are becoming more and more adept at supporting players with problem gambling habits and at ThePOGG we have developed our own tool to support such players in the form of our app,BetBlocker, which allows users to restrict their device from accessing thousands of gambling websites quickly and easily.

Generally, operators holding licenses with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA) are of good standing and we work closely with these casino regulators to provide a fair and robust complaints management service. We have previously served as an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) for the UKGC which allows us a unique insight into how this regulator works and we still enjoy a close working relationship with this organization which we believe uniquely benefits our customers.

We strive to resolve every complaint that is logged at our site and players can rest assured that we will thoroughly investigate any issues brought to our attention. To date we have managed to negotiate the return of over two million dollars to players that have logged complaints with us over the course of managing over 2k complaints.