I should perhaps preface the following with the caveat that the only people really talking live casinos up to any great extent are platform developers and their licensee casinos. I don’t know that players are singing the praises of live casinos just yet. But it is fair to say that there is a certain degree of excitement in the online casino industry that this relatively recent development has taken online casino gambling a step closer to replicating the traditional terrestrial casino experience.
So what are live (online) casinos? Basically, they are casinos that you can play remotely, but rather than the games being computer generated, they are dealt by real dealers using actual gaming equipment. Typically, games are dealt from purpose built dealer studios somewhere, housing the dealers, tables, video cameras and related streaming technology. On occasion, the games are streamed from an actual bricks and mortar casino. The game deal, generally limited to either blackjack, roulette or baccarat is then streamed in real time as a live video feed that is embedded in a bet interface that players can access from their computers.
While theses games are played online, that’s where their similarity to traditional online casino games ends. Of course the major difference is that event outcomes are not dictated by a random number generator and represented by a computer graphic. Rather, you are seeing an actual card being dealt or the drop of a real roulette ball. But just as compelling, is the human element that these games introduce. Standing before you, albeit on the other side of the world somewhere, is a real person conducting the game. With audio turned up you can clearly hear the dealer talking players through the deal. You can even chat to the dealer on some platforms, although as they respond to chat in type, don’t expect a response mid deal.
There are still many imperfections and limitations with this platform though. Chief among these are the need for a fast connection speed to ensure a playable live video stream. Also a concern is the length of time it takes to complete a deal on multiplayer tables. A full 7 seat blackjack table for example, where players are given a minute to place their bets, and then a further 40 seconds between each bet decision when playing their hands can become a long winded affair by anyone’s measure.
But few could argue that if online casino software developers’ Holy Grail is replicating the bricks and mortar experience as closely as possible and serving it remotely, then this is a step in the right direction. It would be interesting to get statistics on player migration from RNG games to live casino games to get a better feel for just how players are responding. What is clear though is that most of the large brand name online casinos have added live games to their stable of offerings in the last couple of years. Whether this is in response to player demand or simply a need to keep up with the competition is difficult to know for sure.
By Milton Shaw
Milton Shaw writes for Livedealer.org, a portal dedicated to live casino gambling.