SEGA’s best game might not be Sonic: Why a casino classic could be a hidden gem

When it comes to debating the best SEGA game, we could be here all night. The obvious choice for most fans of the Japanese gaming giant is everyone’s favourite hedgehog, Sonic. Since the original game hit the mainstream with its release for the Genesis 25 years ago, SEGA has shifted more than 140 million Sonic games worldwide. However, as we all know, recent incarnations of the super-quick creature haven’t been great. The Boom series has largely been considered a disappointment and even though the recently released Fire & Ice was the best yet, we could only give it an “average” rating on our review.

So, if Sonic has been looking more and more fragile in recent years, maybe there’s room for some other contenders? Well, without defining some parameters, it’s virtually impossible to name the “best” SEGA game ever. So, if we are going to run through some classics, it pays to at least look at a specific category. Now, for this rundown, we’ve decided to take a left-field approach and look at SEGA’s on-off love affair with casino games.

A virtual casino game with dual intentions

Despite being behind some of the most impressive arcade-style games in history, SEGA has dipped its toes into the world of betting a few times. Perhaps the most obvious example of the company’s crossover venture came in 2006 with SEGA Casino. Released on the Nintendo DS, the game featured a number of familiar table games, including poker, blackjack and keno. One of the most appealing aspects of the game was that it made use of the DS’s dual-screen set-up.

On the top screen, you’ll find information about the game in question as well as any special equipment such as a roulette wheel or shoe (where the cards are kept). The lower screen is where the main action takes place and the aim of the game is to take a $1,000 starting bankroll and win millions. By entering free play, casino or multiplayer mode, players can try their hand at 11 different games in a bid to become a high roller.

At the time, SEGA’s decision to offer a casino game was extremely clever. iGaming (online casino and poker) was just starting to reach its peak in 2006, and that meant a slew of new sites and, subsequently, players, were popping up online. Today, there are literally thousands of online casinos for players to choose from. In fact, the range of options is so great, players now use review sites to get a handle on the action. For example, if a Canadian was looking for a new place to play, they could find online casino games here. As well as offering insights into the sites’ top offers, provides star ratings so that players know where they should lay their money.

SEGA was ahead of its time and we didn’t even know it

Essentially, SEGA had its finger on the pulse back in 2006 and it was as if it knew online casino games would become big business. Evidence for this appeared in 2009 when the company was granted an online gaming licence by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. The intention at the time was to join the wave of new online casino sites popping up all over the world. Indeed, had things panned out differently, SEGA may have been one of the platforms featured on a major review site.  

Instead of players playing for virtual money chips via the old SEGA Casino DS games, they’d have been able to scroll through the list of keno online casino games at, follow a link and enjoy a real betting experience. Although the company bought the domain, it’s since been taken offline and the idea abandoned. However, had it stuck with the idea, players could easily see their favourites from SEGA Casino turned into something truly entertaining.

A look through the current options at shows that the top rated sites not only offer 500+ games but provide provisions for mobile gaming, secure payments and even guides for beginners. Whether or not SEGA would have pushed things this far is unclear, but there’s no doubt it had the opportunity to and it was all because of SEGA Casino. While it might have seemed like an innocuous offering at the time, it was actually a crafty little test to see if it could deliver an online casino experience.

Although it ultimately fell by the wayside, it’s a nice tribute to the foresight of team SEGA. Moreover, it’s a great reason why SEGA Casino is one of the company’s best games. Not because it was the most entertaining, but because it shows how pioneering SEGA has been over the years.

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