The online gaming world used to just feature virtual casino games. If you wanted to play blackjack, your only option was to use a software-generated table with an AI dealer.
Such table games are still available in great abundance. But you can now look forward to live dealer gaming as well.
Live casino games differ from standard virtual table games in the following ways:
- Action is streamed from either a land-based studio or casino.
- A human dealer works the table.
- You can communicate with the dealer via a chat box.
- Real tables are used.
- Real cards and other equipment (e.g. roulette wheel) are used.
Some elements of live casinos are the same as virtual gaming. For example, the betting interface is roughly the same between both versions.
For the most part, though, live dealer gaming is very different from regular online casino gambling. Its differences have helped it become more popular among players.
However, the situation regarding live casinos wasn’t always so great. In fact, few people played these games in the beginning.
I’m going to further discuss the slow start for this form of gambling. I’ll also cover what elements have helped it attain a high level of popularity today.
Slow Beginnings for Live Dealer Gaming
Live dealer casinos are nothing new. They’ve been around since the mid-2000s.
These casinos were filling an obvious void in online gambling. But they failed to take off right away for a couple of reasons.
- Consumer internet connections weren’t that great in the mid-2000s. Live tables would sometimes freeze up in the middle of a round.
- The studios and game play options didn’t make for a fun experience.
As with many new ideas, live casinos struggled mightily due to these setbacks. It took years before they improved to the point where they were accepted on a wide scale basis.
Factors that Have Boosted the Popularity of Live Casinos
Many internet casinos now license live gaming software from various providers (e.g. Evolution). This is a stark contrast from 10 years again, when live casinos were poorly functioning sites with few users.
What sparked this turnaround? The following reasons have all contributed to the rise of live dealer gambling.
Quality Live Casino Studios
The earliest live casinos were rather rudimentary. They featured single cameras at tables and poor virtual interfaces for the betting options.
The studios themselves also look better than in the past. Rather than blank rooms with casino tables, these studios are fashioned to look like real casinos.
Speaking of which, some providers even operate in brick-and-mortar casinos. For example, Actual Gaming (formerly Vuetec) and MTM Corp both operate from the classy Fitzwilliam Casino in Dublin.
When live dealer sites first came out, they were originally only available on PCs and Macs. This made sense at the time when considering that mobile phones were still built like small bricks.
However, the advent of smart phones changed everything. Smartphone tech allows for better graphics and streaming quality — two crucial elements to the live gaming experience.
Better Internet & PC/Mobile Technology
As mentioned before, internet connections weren’t the greatest when live casinos first launched. But high-speed internet is now available across most of the world.
Players no longer have to worry about games freezing up on them in the middle of a session. Instead, they can enjoy smooth game play at live dealer sites.
PC and mobile technology have also helped to improve this process. Computers, smart phones, and tablets are now able to stream live gambling action without much incident.
Improved Chat Function
One aspect that truly sets live table games apart from their virtual counterparts is communication. You can interact with a real dealer via the chat box.
This process works as follows:
- You type a question to the dealer.
- It appears on a large screen in front of the dealer.
- They respond to you when they get a free second.
Maybe this isn’t as personable as sitting and chatting with the dealer at an actual casino table. However, it’s the most-interactive experience that online gaming currently offers.
Again, live dealer tables weren’t exactly technological marvels when they were first introduced. Software providers have done a good job at upgrading the features over the years, though.
Here are some of the features that are available at live tables:
- Bet behind — Sometimes live dealer tables are full. Bet behind allows you to wager on the outcome of a seated player’s results.
- Card overlays — Virtual card overlays make it easier to see the real card values that are dealt.
- Fullscreen — Increase the screen size to take up the entire table.
- Stop/go lights — Green, yellow, and red lights show how much time you have to place bets.
- Tips — Give your favorite dealer a tip.
- Virtual chips — Like card overlays, virtual chips enable to you to better see the chip denominations.
Nothing beats the land-based gambling experience. However, brick-and-mortar casinos require high minimum bets. Plenty of establishments require you to wager at least $25 per hand.
Others may call for $5 minimum wagers, especially regarding blackjack. But this amount is still cheaper than the average brick-and-mortar casino.
Find Your Favorite Dealers
The dealers are quite possibly the biggest draws to live casinos. Not only do they communicate with you, but many of them are also quite attractive.
You can play at different croupiers’ tables and develop a bond with them. Over time, you may find that you prefer one dealer over the others.
In this case, you can check out their schedule to see what shift they’ll be working. Many online casinos provide this information somewhere on their website.
Most live dealer sites also feature dealers who speak a variety of languages. English, French German, Spanish, and Swedish are among the most-popular languages spoken at these casinos.
Baccarat, blackjack, and roulette have been the staples of live dealer gambling sites. However, this selection has been expanded in recent years.
Here are some of the many games that you can find across the industry:
- Caribbean stud
- Casino hold’em
- Dragon Tiger
- Dream Catcher
- Texas hold’em bonus poker
- Three-card poker
- Ultimate Texas hold’em
Beyond the large game variety, certain live games have multiple variations. Blackjack, for example, features a party version, where a host/hostess works with the dealer to keep gamblers entertained.
How Can You Get in on the Live Dealer Gaming Action?
You don’t have to look far to find live dealer casino games these days. Many casinos and providers now feature these options.
It’s important to note that not every gaming site and provider have live games. After all, these outfits are fairly expensive to run and license.
Therefore, the first matter is to find a site that runs live casino games. You can do so by looking for casinos that use software from one or more of the following providers:
- Actual Gaming
- Evolution Gaming
- Global Gaming Labs
- Media Live
- Net Entertainment (NetEnt)
- Opus Gaming
- Portomaso Gaming
- Visionary iGaming
- Vivo Gaming
This list doesn’t even cover every live operator. Therefore, you can see all of the different options that are available.
Once you choose a casino with live gaming software, the rest of the process is easy. You just deposit and sign up like you normally would at any casino.
From here, you proceed to a casino’s games section. They should have live dealer gaming clearly categorized and separate from their slots and virtual table games.
Therefore, a deposit is required before you can play live dealer games. The good news, though, is that live casinos have lower minimum bets than the average land-based establishment.
Live gambling sites may not have started off with a bang. But they’re definitely a major part of the online gaming industry now.
Several factors have contributed to the success of live casinos. Here’s a recap of the main aspects that have helped this style of gambling grow:
- Better studios; some outfits even operate from brick-and-mortar casinos
- Live casinos available on smart phones and tablets.
- Stronger internet connections
- Improved PC/Mac and mobile phone technology
- Fun chat feature
- Added features, including the popular “bet behind”
- Lower stakes than brick-and-mortar casinos
- Attractive and entertaining dealers
- Lots of different games
You can’t perfectly replace the brick-and-mortar casino environment. With the latter, you can touch cards, sit at a real table, talk directly to the dealer, and chat with fellow players.
But live dealer gaming is a suitable alternative when you can’t get to the closest casino. While you may be seeing the action through a screen, the tables, dealers, and cards are real in this situation too.
What’s nice is that you won’t have to work hard to find a live casino either. Plenty of software providers feature their products across numerous gaming sites.
Some casinos even offer free bets that are exclusive to live gamblers. That said, you have extra incentive to try these types of casinos.