Live dealer casinos have become a popular feature of online casino sites in recent years. These provide games which are run by professional dealers and streamed to your computer or mobile device in real time. Betting options are overlaid onto your screen – giving you a hybrid live and online experience. You even interact with the dealers and other players if you wish through a text chat feature – dealers can reply verbally. While most live dealer casinos are operated by 3rd parties, they are integrated into the major casino brands so that you can access them without a separate account.
This article covers all you need to know about live dealer casinos. First you can discover the background of how these casinos operate and how betting works, followed by a look at the specific games which are spread. Then the key differences between live dealer casinos and regular online casinos are looked at, along with unique bonuses. Finally the positives and negatives of live dealer casinos are summed up you.
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How are Live Dealer Casinos Organized?
Live dealer casinos have previously been exclusively handled by third party companies, such as Evolution Gaming and EntwineTech, who have provided their services to the different sites. As the popularity of these games grown major casino platforms, such as MicroGaming and PlayTech are introducing their own live streaming games.
Games are broadcast from various places around the world, Visionary iGaming for example provides games from Costa Rica, MediaLive Casino stream out of Malta, and Bodog88 comes from the Philippines. Many of the European casino operators have studios in Latvia. This can lead to a different atmosphere in the rooms, and different ranges of games which appeal to players in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
You can also find certain sites have done deals to allow for their own casino branding in the studios. 888 Casino is such as case, where along with the standard Evolution Gaming games, you can find exclusive tables provided only for 888 customers. In addition to a giving their players a more personalized experience, such rooms give online casinos the opportunity to offer different promotions and bonuses.
Games Available On Live Casinos
You can find many of your favorite casino table games in live dealer casinos, with Roulette available plus card games such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Casino Holdem and 3-Card Poker. Stakes vary widely, usually between $1 per bet and $10,000 or more, depending on the game you are playing. Exclusive high-roller tables are normally separated from the regular tables.
Most live dealer casino games are played out one-to-many. Dealers play through a hand against a single opponent, while many players can bet on the outcome. Where there is a decision point (for example the Play or Fold in casino poker variants) the hand is played to the end by the dealer, allowing for players who wish to continue as well as those who folded.
Blackjack does not work so well in a one-to-many format (though it can be found like this). Instead most live dealer casinos operate 7 handed tables – where each player gets to make their own decisions on whether to hit, stand or double. This makes the games somewhat slower than their virtual equivalents, which necessitates slightly higher (typically $5) minimum bets.
There are several variations of Roulette which can be played via live dealer casinos. You’ll find the 3 standard game variants (US, European and French Roulette), and also a special-effects heavy ‘Immersive’ Roulette game at Evolution Gaming casinos. Some casinos also feature an automated wheel; this is a covered wheel that does not require a dealer – though it is still streamed to you in real time.
How Live Dealer Casinos Differ From RNG Casinos
The obvious difference between a live dealer casino and your standard online casinos, powered by random number generators, is that all the action is real and does not rely on any simulation.
As live dealer casinos provide online games with a software component, they have to be tested the same as an RNG casino. These are carried out by independent auditors, such as Technical Systems Testing and iTech Labs, who are respected in the industry. The live software companies are also licensed by the likes of Alderney, First Cagayan, Malta and UK Gambling Commission.
While live dealer casino games offer a superior and more social experience, compared to their digital counter-parts, there is a tradeoff. As nearly all games are multiplayer, you are restricted by the clock making the games a lot slower. This delay is even more when the action stops for dealer and deck changes – and in multi-hand games including Blackjack.
Stakes are also higher. While on a RNG table you can literally play for pennies, there are hardly any Live Games running for less than $1 per bet. For Blackjack games the minimum bet can be even higher, starting around $5, as the table can only take so many bets per hour.
Some live dealer games – for example Evolution Gaming’s Immersive Roulette – include digital special effects and slow motion replays. This would not be possible in any other casino gaming format, creating a unique experience.
Live Dealer Casino Bonuses
Often you can find casinos with live dealer games offering bonuses specifically for their live streamed casinos. These are designed to give players a bit of extra value for trying out the games, and you can reduce the house edge slightly by taking advantage of them. The casinos are betting that you’ll enjoy these games and come back long after your bonus has been completed.
In addition to reload bonuses and free credit tied in with these games, you may also get prizes when specific events occur. This may be a cash bonuses when a certain number comes in on the Roulette wheel, or when you are dealt a clubs suited Blackjack (for example). While these prizes tend to be small, they require no extra bets and you just need to be playing your regular game to take advantage of them.
Recommended Live Dealer Casinos
The live dealer casinos available to US players are different companies to the European and Asian studios available to the rest of the world. These are located in places like Costa Rica and the Caribbean. If you would like to enjoy live dealer games from the US then I recommend BetOnline who host Live Dealer games from Global Gaming Labs casino.
Non-US players have a far wider choice and can even shop around for special bonus offers that many casinos offer for their live dealer games. I recommend 888 Casino as a great starting point. This casino uses the Evolution Gaming studio from Latvia and have regular promotions encouraging players to check these tables out.