It’s hard to deny that few things can compare to the thrill of entering the hall of an actual land-based casino, just as it is still fun to go to the movies. And yet, Netflix and other online streaming platforms are the core of today’s popular culture, and the same goes for online casinos and live casinos in the iGaming industry. Sure, sometimes, we want to show off our poker skills and a new outfit in Vegas. Oftentimes, though, we just want something different. Cue live casinos, a new gambling development that combines the excitement of land-based casinos with the comfort of online ones.
Live casinos have been on the rise for half a decade. With an annual growth rate of 38%, they are now the fastest growing online casino segment. However, perhaps the best thing that has ever happened to live casino operators is the COVID-19 lockdown. From being an alternative to land-based casinos, they have turned into gamblers’ only option—no wonder the choice of reliable live casino platforms is wider than ever.
When Did Live Casinos First Emerge?
Although live casinos were not popular until about five years ago, the idea dates back to as early as 1998. The first prototype of what we know today as a live casino was Randy Blumer’s Planet Poker, an online cardroom. The technology was nowhere near as advanced as it currently is (which was the top reason for Planet Poker players’ complaints back in the day), but gamblers could still interact and win real money despite being hundreds of miles away from one another. The company remained one of the leaders of the North American gambling market until the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that banned real-money online gambling.
How Do Live Casinos Work?
Optical Character Recognition Technology and Game Control Unit. Contemporary live casinos have little in common with Planet Poker and other online cardrooms from the early 2000s. Everyone knows that the last ten to fifteen years have been the time of unprecedented technological boom. iGaming operators have made the most out of it. The heart of today’s live casinos are the technologies called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Game Control Unit (GCU). Basically, OCR and GCU recognize images or text, process the data, and translate them into the needed format; they are used in a variety of fields. In live casinos, OCR and GCU make it possible for the player to affect the outcomes of the game: what you do with, say, roulette (using the console on your computer) immediately turns into the on-screen results for your co-players and the live dealer to follow. By now, the process has become seamless; the sense of being there is complete.
Video Streaming. This one’s easier to comprehend. Think of a simple Zoom meeting, except the only person who has the camera and mic on is the one who holds it. All participants are muted and invisible. Live casinos operate similarly, but the quality of video streaming is outstanding, nothing like a dim, grainy webcam. Normally, the live dealer (an actual, trained croupier who guides players through the game) is filmed in an actual casino or studio by several professional cameras. Unless you have serious connection issues, it’s as if you’re sitting across the table, within arm’s reach from the dealer.
Can the Live Dealer See Players?
No, they can’t. All participants see the dealer, hear them, and place bets. However, the dealer can’t see you, so don’t worry about that ketchup-stained tee. Instead, all players can communicate with one another and the dealer using a live chat, an essential part of all live casinos. The live chat is especially important for those who are not well-familiar with the game rules or have never tried live casinos before. Still, even if you’re not a newbie to either, the live chat is an awesome opportunity to socialize and recreate the experience of a land-based casino visit.
What Games Are Available in Live Casinos?
The top three are obviously roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Choose an established, trusted casino operator and browse through the options it offers. Whatever your piece of cake is, you’ll definitely find something to play.
Are There Any Downsides?
The only thing that can make live casinos a little less exciting compared to land-based ones is the time given to every player to place a bet. Operators are aware that no one is immune to connection issues, not to mention the additional time newcomers need to adjust. As a result, the pace of a live casino game is somewhat slower than that of its real-life alternative. Don’t be discouraged by this, though. After a couple of games, you’ll get used to a more relaxed pace; chances are you will even learn to enjoy it.
Otherwise, live casinos are in no way inferior to their land-based counterparts, and the RTP (Return to Player) percentage is comparable.