Live Dealer Betting Online

Published: 07/01/2013

Ever since casino table games were introduced to the Internet in the mid-1990s, efforts have been made to make the gaming experience more and more “lifelike” for players. This has led to ever-improved graphics and audio, higher speeds of connectivity, more intuitive interfaces and even avatars that can be customised to bet in “3-D casinos.”

But there will always be a class of players who do not trust the technology, from random number generators to the actual number of cards in a virtual deck or the ways in which payout ratios are calculated. For such skeptics, the only “lifelike” casino experience is found with flesh-and-blood dealers in bricks-and-mortar gambling halls, so gaming web sites have adopted “live dealer betting” to win over the hold-outs and provide a true human dimension to online wagering.

The concept of betting with live dealers online is as simple as simple can be. At a remote location, real dealers at real tables interact with players via streaming video feeds direct to the players’ computers. The casino personnel handle real cards, dice or roulette balls and players wager real money on the outcome.

Such simplicity, however, is not at all easy to attain. For one thing, offering live table games 24/7 requires have numerous shifts of trained dealers available, along with managers to oversee them. It also requires high-quality camera equipment and reliable, high-speed Internet connectivity. The costs of maintaining a live dealer studio are roughly on par with setting up a small casino, necessitating overheads that virtual gaming was supposed to have eliminated.

Other sticking points included a limited selection of games to play, the one-way-mirror aspect of the video (streaming from table-to-player, but not from player to table), lack of opportunities to socialise with other players and the relatively slow pace of play compared to games played one-on-one with casino software.

It is not surprising, then, that live dealer platforms were introduced only slowly. The very first were launched in 2003, and they did not truly begin gaining wide favour among both players and operators until the past three years or so.

Now that most of the kinks have been worked out, however, live dealer betting is on the rise. Competition has caused more games to be offered, including Casino Hold’em and Sic Bo as well as the standard Blackjack, Baccarat and Roulette. Shared studio facilities in live dealer hubs such as Riga, Latvia have helped bring the fixed costs of operation down. Higher connection speeds have made in-browser action possible, too, in lieu of downloading specialised applications.

An even more compelling aspect of live dealer betting is the ability to interact with other players via chat—a version of instant messaging. Of course, the chat between players is monitored so that no collusion is possible, and interaction with the dealers is limited, too, but chat add a social element that has long been missing from online casino table games, even though it has proven to be a major draw among online bingo players. People enjoy meeting and getting to know others from around the world.

To make the experience of live dealer betting as personal a possible, many online casinos publish details about the dealers, from their names, ages and hometowns to their star signs, hobbies, favourite foods and aspirations. Just as in land-based casinos, a popular dealer can develop a clientele of regulars that is worth far more than additional marketing efforts to attract fresh players.

About the only think missing from the live dealer betting experience now is the ability to order comped beverages while playing. No doubt there is some employee studying ways of working out that wrinkle, too, as the line between “virtual” and “real” gaming continues to blur.

Published on: 07/01/2013

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