Live Dealer Casinos
Your Detailed Guide to Live Casino Gaming
While casino entertainment used to be a source of entertainment available only to those who had the opportunity to visit land-based gambling facilities, the inception of online gambling has changed the global gaming industry forever. Nowadays, virtual casinos are widely accessible, enabling players from different parts of the world to enjoy their favorite casino games without leaving the comfort of their homes.
With the iGaming sector evolving throughout the years, games have become more sophisticated, offering an experience that comes extremely close to the land-based one. In recent years, Live Casino games have taken over the industry, with almost any reputable casino adding a wide selection of live dealer games to its portfolio.
While the list of providers offering Live Casino solutions keeps growing, a few names have asserted their dominance in the sector, offering some of the best live dealer solutions a player can find. While Live Casino entertainment used to be strictly about table games, nowadays, live dealer options feature plenty of game shows, live slots, and combinations of classic table games and exciting bonus features.
Basics of Live Casinos
Live casinos are relatively unique when compared with other online casino genres. Whereas the vast majority of games featured at online casinos are virtual titles, live dealer games are hosted by real people. Basically, a dealer or croupier is featured in the game and they operate as they would normally at a brick-and-mortar establishment. All of this is captured in a professional studio or land-based casino using high-tech cameras and the footage is streamed over the Internet to users’ devices and the whole action takes place in real time. On the player’s end of things, actions can be taken just like in a virtual game.
However, there are some slight differences between virtual and live games, insofar as each player’s actions are concerned. For starters, there is a limited time to place bets, as it would be impractical for many players to wait on a single person for several minutes on end. Additionally, some games also limit the number of players that may sit at a particular table. This is not really something to take into consideration for roulette players, but blackjack and casino poker fans will be more than familiar with this. This is due to the fact that the dealer can only service a limited number of players at a time, whereas a roulette table can accommodate a potentially infinite number of users.
Overall, live casinos are able to provide players with a highly authentic casino gambling experience so far unmatched by other forms of online gambling. In addition to the immersive element, there is also a social aspect to take into consideration. Players are usually able to communicate with other users at the table by utilizing a live chat system, thereby allowing them to share the joy of hitting a large win.
History of Live Casinos
The online casino industry, in general, is relatively young, only gaining a foothold in the mid-90s with the development of the Internet. For the first decade or so, online casinos were only able to offer virtual titles, though there was the occasional attempt at live dealer games. The technology behind these was simply not advanced enough and the Internet available, at the time, was not able to support a consistent high-quality video output. Some software providers did experiment with multiplayer games, such as Playtech’s Multiplayer Roulette, but those were not received well and few users actually played them. Thus it came to be that users were to be stuck with virtual games for several years. All of this changed when Evolution Gaming arrived on the scene.
This software provider company was established in 2006 and by 2007 it had already formed partnerships with several of the largest names in the online casino business. Evolution Gaming brought some much-needed changes to the live dealer genre and almost single-handedly revived it from the mess that it had been to a legitimate and respectable way to gamble online. With improvements to the technology and high-speed Internet becoming more widespread, other software providers soon started to come out with their own takes on the live dealer genre and the industry settled into the normal state of healthy competition between the different development companies.
In 2020, Evolution Gaming acquired NetEnt for SEK19.60bn ($2.30bn), which led to NetEnt’s Live Casino division ceasing its operation. Meanwhile, the synergy between the two juggernauts has led to more innovations in the Live Casino sector, with Evolution Gaming introducing several live game shows, including Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt – a thrilling slot-like live game offered at any casino featuring the Evolution Live Casino lobby.
Nowadays, live casinos are featured at many different gambling websites and more games are on offer than ever before. With this in mind, we have to go over some of the most popular game types that you are likely to encounter when playing at a live casino. Usually, you will find several types of table games as those are the most easily adapted to a live dealer format.
Roulette is a major game genre in whatever form it is presented. It first appeared in land-based establishments centuries ago, quickly becoming a favorite of the player base. When online casinos began emerging, it was one of the first games to be adapted to a virtual format and now it has made its way onto the live dealer scene. You will most likely find several styles of roulette whenever you look up a live casino, with European and American being the dominant types. Roulette is highly valued by players and is one of the most accessible game types that you will find.
Unlike other table games, there are no restrictions on the number of players that can take part, meaning that you can always enter a game and start wagering. As per the norm, there is a 20- to 30-second time window between spins, where you can place bets and you will be encouraged to do so by the croupier. A chat system is typically present, thereby allowing you to communicate with other gamblers on the table, and a graph may be found to the side, detailing the results of previous spins.
Blackjack is another popular game type with fans of the live dealer genre. Live blackjack differs somewhat from live roulette in the sense that there is a limited number of seats on any given table. Traditionally, between 6 and 8 players can be serviced at the same time, depending on the software provider.
Other aspects of the game remain mostly unchanged and as long as you are somewhat familiar with how to play, you will not have any major issues. While rules might change slightly between the different game providers, they will remain mostly the same.
Though lacking the popularity of blackjack or roulette, casino poker is just a fun to play and there are multiple live dealer games of this type out there. Casino poker is a table game where the player is placed against the dealer, trying to win by having the better hand.
There are multiple sub-genres of casino poker that you can indulge in, with the most popular types being Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud. Each is slightly different from the others, but all of them are exceptionally fun to play and any poker fan will be delighted to take part.
Baccarat was once considered the game of the rich and powerful, but nowadays just about anyone can play this all-time classic if that is their desire. This game is featured at many live casinos and it is more accessible than ever before.
There are almost no deviations from the traditional rules and users will be immediately familiar with how the game plays. Among the several baccarat types out there, we find several special ones such as No Commission Baccarat or Baccarat Controlled Squeeze.
Live Game Shows
As table games are far from the only casino genre online players enjoy, Live Casino studios have expanded their portfolios, offering different live game shows to casino players. Many of the games that fall under this sub-category include shows you have seen on TV or you have played with fmaily and friends for fun. The majority of live game shows you can find online are offered in the Live Casino lobbies of Evolution Gaming and Pragmatic Play. Some popular titles include Deal or No Deal, Live Monopoly, Sweet Bonanza Candyland, Dream Catcher, and many more.
Creating software for online casinos is a time-consuming and costly process, often not something that many companies want to indulge in. This why online casinos normally rely on software providers, companies dedicated specifically to the creation of online casino games and other software. This allows online casinos to simply purchase a license and focus their primary efforts on improving their service rather than wasting time creating games. The same is true for live casinos, though there is a smaller number of companies offering live games, as opposed to their virtual counterparts.
Without a doubt, the largest proprietor of live dealer games, Evolution Gaming has been the leader in the live dealer scene for as long as anyone can remember. Unlike other companies, Evolution Gaming focuses exclusively on live dealer games.
With multiple studios across many countries and streaming some games directly from land-based venues, Evolution Gaming is able to offer one of the largest selection of live dealer games in the world. It is no wonder that this company has been named ‘Live Casino Supplier of the Year’ multiple years in a row.
Pragmatic Play is another popular software provider that offers a realistic casino experience to online players, with dedicated studios from different parts of the world offering high-quality streams of classic table games and game shows. Professional dealers will make the overall gaming experience extremely authentic, providing players with different variations of roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and Sic Bo. With ranging bet limits, the tables at the Pragmatic Play Live Casino lobby cater to the preferences of different players, enabling both high-roller play and low-stakes betting.
In addition to traditional table games, Pragmatic Play also provides a number of Live Casino game shows that offer a different live dealer experience. Spinning wheels, hidden prizes, and fast-paced games await online players. Some of the thrilling live game shows in the Pragmatic Play lobby include Boom City, Sweet Bonanza Candyland, and Mega Wheel.
Few companies can boast of having a richer history than Playtech and that is for a good reason. Playtech has always been at the forefront of the online casino industry, introducing countless innovations to the benefit of their clientele.
With live dealer games, it is no different. Playtech currently has one of the largest selections of live dealer games in the industry. While live dealer games used to be streaming from three different studios in Romania, Latvia, and the Philippines, Playtech has expanded its reach, with studios being launched across the world, including in multiple states in the US. Playtech Live Casino lobby boasts numerous variations of roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, with some options allowing exciting side bet options and even the progressive jackpot linked to all Age of the Gods titles by Playtech. Live game shows and live slots are also some of the most exciting options you can find at Live Casino lobbies powered by Playtech.
Despite being smaller in comparison to the aforementioned providers, Ezugi has also learned its spot among the best Live Casino providers, catering to the needs of fans of classic table games. Not only does the provider offer high-quality streams from its purpose-built studios, but there are also games like OTT Roulette, OTT Baccarat, and OTT Andar Bahar, streamed straight from the floor of brick-and-mortar casinos. This shows the company’s dedication to offering an authentic gaming experience to virtual players, bringing casino entertainment straight to the comfort of their homes.
In 2018, Evolution Gaming acquired Ezugi after an $18 million deal was signed between the two entities. This further expanded the global Live Casino market, bringing online players a top-class casino experience. In addition to classic variations of roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and Casino Hold’em, Ezugi has also launched its Ultimate series, offering special multipliers to fans of roulette, Sic Bo, and Andar Bahar.
Pros and Cons
Having covered most of the basics, we can now move on to something more substantial, such as discussing the advantages and disadvantages of playing live dealer games. There are many good arguments on both sides and we will try to go over the more important ones.
Pros of Live Casinos
A major factor of live dealer games is their sheer immersive value that simply cannot be found in other forms of online gambling. Since they are set in a professional environment, be it a studio or a land-based venue, you get the feeling that you are truly located in the gaming hall of a casino. Everything you see is meant to evoke the feeling of a brick-and-mortar casino from the dealer to the table to the background music and ambiance .
All of it is of the highest quality and you can spend hours placing bets on your favorite games. Moreover, you will be able to communicate with other players by using the live chat system, celebrating big wins, or commiserating with other users about losses. The social aspect of live dealer games should not be underestimated as it can make or break the experience for you.
They are the closest you can get to playing at a brick-and-mortar venue without actually having to leave the comfort of your home. Virtual games are nice and mostly of good quality, but live dealer titles surpass them in many ways. Live casinos have come to represent the best that the online casino industry has to offer and users around the world are reaping the benefits.
Live casino options may often include VIP tables, exclusively available to high rollers who enjoy placing higher stakes and playing for bigger returns. Such tables can be joined by a single player at a time, making the whole experience extra exclusive and personal. Of course, as online casinos have different types of members, Live Casino lobbies tend to offer the same game with ranging betting limits, so low-stakes fans can also revel in a great live dealer experience.
With Live Casino providers introducing more innovations, the live dealer sector has expanded exponentially, offering great diveristy of games. Nowadays, live casinos offer so much mroe than simply table games, with game shows and live slots often being offered at different Live Casino lobbies.
Cons of Live Casinos
Of course, nothing in this world is perfect, and live casinos are not without their issues. For starters, we have to account for the higher barrier to entry when compared with virtual games. A live casino is a costly operation to run and maintain. The company responsible has to pay for the studio, hire dealers, a pit boss, and a team of IT specialists to maintain flawless video streams. As you can probably imagine, this means that expenses ramp up very high, very quickly. This has a direct result on the games and more will be asked of users in turn.
While many RNG games can be played for fun, meaning players can test their mechanics without risking real money, no live dealer game can be played without staking real funds on each betting round. In fact, some Live Casino lobbies will not allow players to load live dealer games before they have deposited substantial amounts into their accounts.
One very obvious effect of the higher cost of producing Live Casino games can be noticed in the higher minimum bets on any given game. Whereas virtual games often allow you to play with your spare change, live dealer titles feature a higher minimum. Most often this will be $1 (or your currency equivalent), but there are also games where this number goes up to $5 or more. Over time this may amount to a huge sum and if you are unlucky enough to go through a losing streak, you may find yourself strapped for cash rather quickly.
The high staff and maintenance costs also directly correlate to the number of games available at any given time. What is more, if you are playing blackjack, the number of seats available on a certain live table may be limited, meaning you will not be able to make betting decisions if there are no available seats on the table. Luckily, many variations have added the ‘bet behind’ option that allows you to play with the hands of other players who have joined the live dealer blackjack table. That said, this is never an issue with virtual games, where numerous players can enjoy the same virtual blackjack game at the same time.
We must also account for the possibility of human error when playing at a live casino. While this is mostly unheard of, it has happened from time to time to unfortunate players. Since each card has to be scanned when it is drawn from the shoe, there is the possibility that the dealer may not do this properly. If the card is not scanned, it could break the game for you and cause you to lose substantial sums. This is not so much a problem in roulette, where there are no cards to scan, but in blackjack or baccarat, it could be devastating. Granted, the likelihood of this happening is relatively low, but those who have experienced something like this will always remember how they lost a good hand because of a dealer’s mistake.