Malta-based slot game and scratchcard developer Hacksaw Gaming has its sights set on the US. This week, it announced that it has obtained its first provisional license in the country. Rather than the usual launchpad of New Jersey, it has chosen to get started in West Virginia.
Though small, the West Virginia online casino market is currently on a hot streak. West Virginia operators are collectively reporting a 77% year-over-year increase in revenue over the past 12 weeks. That’s about twice the growth rate of larger states with legal online casinos.
There are only six states in the US that allow online iGaming currently. They are West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Michigan.
Although new to the US, Hacksaw does have a North American presence. It succeeded in securing a license in Ontario, Canada, in May.
In a press release, the company said it doesn’t expect to go live until next year:
The strategy for North America is to go live in the US in Q1 of 2023 via our partnership with Light & Wonder.
Light & Wonder’s content platform OpenGaming aggregates content from several smaller developers like Hacksaw, in addition to the company’s own games.
Hacksaw CEO Marcus Cordes added:
This latest expansion comes after our license approvals in Romania and the Isle of Man earlier in 2022, so we’re finishing the year just as strongly as we started it.
Hacksaw’s website says it aims to “disrupt” the industry. It’s building its catalog to help with that goal.
In December 2021, the company had only 75 game titles. In less than a year, it has expanded to a lineup of over 100, including slots, fixed prize games, instant win games, and scratchcards. It currently serves almost 20 regulated markets.
Emphasis on High Volatility and Cluster Pays
Hacksaw’s marketing materials frequently boast about the “biggest prizes.” Indeed, most of the games Bonus tested feature very high volatility.
The catalog also contains an unusual concentration of cluster pay slots. Rather than the standard paylines used by most real money slots, these have the player trying collect clusters of matching symbols to win. Some of these titles also cascade, meaning winning combinations disappear and cause new symbols to drop into the grid, potentially causing a chain reaction.
Some of Hacksaw’s cluster pay slots include:
- Cash Compass
- Stack ‘Em
- Hop ‘n Pop
When Hacksaw does use paylines, it tends to shy away from the standard 5×3 reel set. Some Hacksaw games have 5×5, 5×6, or 7×7 grid screens. For those looking for less extreme swings, there’s even a low volatility 3×3 title, Fruit Duel.
Hacksaw Featured Slot – Cash Compass
Cash Compass is a non-cascading cluster pay slot with a desert island treasure hunt theme.
It has a 6×6 grid and requires a cluster of six or more matching symbols to win a prize.
The primary gimmick relates to the Compass symbol, as the name suggests. As well as being the highest-paying symbol, it also has the potential to trigger a special feature. Whenever six more Compass symbols land on the grid – in a cluster or not – a compass at the top of the screen spins, landing on one of the eight cardinal or ordinal directions (north, northeast, east, etc.).
Every Compass symbol in the grid then expands as far as it can in the indicated direction before scoring. This can produce huge clusters of Compasses, if the spin lands in a helpful direction.
There are also two types of Scatter symbols: Free Spins and Bonus. Three or more Free Spins symbols grant ten free spins with no additional features. Three or more Bonus symbols trigger a wheel spin bonus round. During this mini-game, the player spins a wheel repeatedly, racking up a multiplier with each spin until landing on the Skull symbol, which ends the bonus. The player then wins the accumulated multiplier times their original bet size.
It’s simultaneously original yet easy to understand, a coveted combination in slots design.