Live dealer online casinos
There are literally thousands of online casinos on the Web featuring live dealer games. It has been one of the biggest growth areas in online gambling – playing favorites such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat via a live video feed for real money.
We will make the assumption you have your wits about you enough to know the gambling laws in your country, and turn our attention to giving you a clear guide on what to look for when you are playing live dealer games.
Which games are available in live dealer?
The beauty of playing card games on the Internet, rather than at land-based venues, is the huge discrepancy in running costs. While it is hard to come up with a specific monetary value on how much it costs to run each, the difference between renting a venue in, for example, Scandinavia or Malaysia to run a live dealer set-up, in comparison with the heady casino properties in Las Vegas would be sizeable to say the least.
This means online casinos can give more back to the player, in terms of more favorable rules (lower house edges) and variety in both table limits and game selection. Everything from blackjack to live lottery games are available to people right round the globe.
The No.1 casino card game, played against the dealer, blackjack is readily available in live dealer at every live casino the World Gambling List has come across.
It is up to the casino and their live dealer provider to set the house edge, with several factors, including how many decks are used, and rule variations coming into play.
Minimum/Maximum bet limit $0.50 / $100,000
Variations available: Standard blackjack, Pontoon, Spanish 21
* NB: All bet limits are the lowest we have found, followed by the highest, and are subject to change from casino to casino. They are also shown in USD, with similar amounts available in EUR, GBP, AUD and many Asian currencies.
Roulette, like blackjack, is almost guaranteed to be among the offerings at casinos with live dealer games, as it is one of the most popular games played online.
Unlike when playing at a casino on the Vegas strip, you will find European roulette is the common variant, no matter how small your bankroll is. The bet limits will vary greatly from online casino to online casino and if you find yourself in a high-roller program you could stand to win millions off a single bet.
Minimum/Maximum bet limit: $0.50 / $250,000
Variations available: European, American, French and multi-wheel roulette.
The most popular game in Asia, baccarat converts well to a live dealer set-up. The gameplay is similar to playing at a land-based venue, although it is even easier as the software, in most cases, will prompt you.
It won’t be as commonly found as blackjack and roulette, but it’s almost a lock that you will find it at most casinos featuring live dealer.
Minimum/Maximum bet limit: $1 / $30,000
Variations available: Mini baccarat, Punto Banco, baccarat
A poker variant played against the dealer is growing in popularity as a live dealer game. You might struggle to find it at most casinos but rest assured it is available for real money live-dealer play.
Live Texas Hold’em is played against the other players at the table, however, in Casino Hold’em you are competing against the dealer and there are only two rounds of betting.
Minimum/Maximum bet limit: $1 / $1000
Variations available: Casino Hold’em High Limit, Low limit
Live dealer Sic Bo
Sic Bo is a Chinese game which translates in English to “dice pair” and is believed to be more than 2000 years old. It is often called Tai Sai (lucky dice) and Dai Siu (big small).
It is played with three dice, has drawn comparisons with Craps, and is largely played by Asian punters. Some say it is close to usurping Baccarat as the No.1 game in gambling mecca Macau.
Online Sic Bo won’t be found in live dealer format at every casino with live games. But if you dig deep enough you should be able to find a game. Often the stakes are very high, but the table limits online vary enough to suit every type of bankroll.
Some software platforms to look out for that have Sic Bo include Bodog88, Ho Gaming and Playtech.
Minimum/Maximum bet limit: $1 / $30,000
Variations available: Tai Sai, Dai Siu, Sic Bo
Live lottery and Keno
Imagine watching the lottery, over and over … and over. It’s possible these days with some online casinos hosting a live lottery game mirroring the one you would have seen on television.
Again most casinos won’t host live dealer lottery, but it is possible to find if it is your vice. It’s fast-paced and is similar to online Keno with the dealer presenting the winning numbers, usually from the blower, with a graphic of each number then appearing on your screen.
Minimum/Maximum bet limits: $0.50 / $100
Live dealer interface
Unlike when you play a random-number-generated game there are other players sitting at the table. When you choose a room to visit, you will see names on ‘seats’ that are taken, while others will give you the option to click on them and take a seat.
The betting options (all games have a similar interface) are usually below the live video stream. The chips, which determine how much you are betting, will be towards the bottom of your window and will go up in increments from left to right.
Some live dealer interfaces will also have a chat window available, which allows you to type and interact with the dealer and other players. A few will also have options to tile the window so you can play in multiple rooms at once, or even play a side game such as a slot in between hands.
Mobile live dealer
This relatively new technology is beginning to take off around the world, with most software companies either having it available for online casinos or are well into developing it.
The clear market leader on this front in 2016 is Evolution Gaming, with many of the biggest online casinos catering to Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom using this platform, simply because of the mobile capabilities.
We won’t go into extreme detail, we will leave that for another article, but it works much like live dealer on your PC, although the video stream and table alternate on your screen on smartphones. This means you place your bets on the table, before your dealer calls last bets, and it will switch back to the video feed as the dealer spins the wheel or draws more cards.
Payment methods at live dealer casinos
You can read plenty of tips about depositing money at online casinos. Basically it will come down to where you live. If you are in the USA it will be tougher than if you are in, for example, the UK, where online casino wagering is fully regulated.
The history of live dealer
You could never have imagined how far wagering on the Internet would advance in the 20 years since Microgaming dove into the unknown and launched the first online casino.
Even the biggest stargazers out there may have struggled to envisage a world where we can play casino favorites such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat via a live video stream.
The live dealer concept had been around for years, but the download and upload speeds had not been there to make it possible. Before the current live dealer boom, we heard yarns of high-stakes baccarat games played by wealthy Asian tycoons via a live stream over data lines predating online casinos, but it has really only been in the past five or so years that live dealer has taken over.
Again it was Isle of Man gaming company Playtech which pioneered the first live dealer casino, in 2003. It struggled to take off, mainly because of the aforementioned reasons, but as download speeds improved, the use of live dealer escalated.
Even though Playtech was struggling to make a splash with live dealer, it didn’t stop Microgaming and Evolution Gaming from developing their own platforms. This continued to evolve as internet speeds improved and led to other major iGaming companies getting on board.
One of the biggest moves for Microgaming was the launch of the raunchy Playboy Bunny Live Dealer concept. In today’s sensitive times, Playboy Bunny live dealers still exist, with the concept featuring scantily clad female beauties dishing out your cards.
Since then many more live dealer providers have emerged to challenge the pioneers and there is a healthy competition between upwards of 15 well-known software companies.
Other concepts are on the way, with 3D live dealer a distinct possibility in the not-too-distant future with products such as Oculus Rift and Google Glass already venturing into casino gaming.