The thriving free-to-play online gaming market is paying off for Aristocrat. Australia’s largest poker machine manufacturer last week reported a 2.8 percent growth in net profit, fuelled largely by its digital revenue that has more than tripled in the first half of its fiscal year.

Aristocrat’s digital revenue soared 220 percent to nearly $533 million, while digital earnings grew more than $84 million.

Aristocrat’s core business has traditionally been supplying electronic gaming machines for casinos, pubs and clubs, but the $18 billion company has upped its gamble on the online gaming market with two recent acquisitions of digital gaming companies, the US-based Big Fish Games and Israel’s Plarium.

Aristocrat completed a $1.3 billion takeover of online gaming business Big Fish in January to become the world’s second-largest provider of online casino games.

Seattle based Big Fish Games is the creator of several hugely popular mobile and desktop games played by more than 12.4 million active users every month. Among its catalogue of gaming titles are Big Fish Casino, Gummy Drop! and Fairway Solitaire.

Trevor Croker, Aristocrat’s chief executive, partly attributed the company’s performance to growth in North America, and the strength of its digital gaming division, where online daily active users have increased almost sixfold to 8.3 million.

“Aristocrat will continue to push for growth by increasing our strategic investment in design and development in order to protect and extend market leading positions,” he said.

Sources: SMH, Calvyn Ayre