Live Dealer Online Casinos

Published: 07/01/2013

Today almost all major online casinos offer a gaming section called “Live Dealer” or ‘Live Casino.” This is where classic table games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat can be played directly against a real human dealer representing the House. It is even possible to “chat” with the dealers and fellow players while making wagers, recreating the experience of participating at a true bricks and mortar gambling hall.

The studios for these live dealer tables belong to game developers such as Playtech, Microgaming and others. They stream the video of live table action to players’ computers through an intermediary—the online casinos that subscribe to their service. For that reason, the live dealer one sees spinning the roulette wheel at, say, bet365 may be identical to the one appearing at William Hill. They aren’t twins, clones or prerecorded images. They are employees of Playtech made visible through the online casinos’ own customer interfaces.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that all live dealer online casinos are the same. Their contracts with suppliers give them considerable latitude in providing games, from the ones they make available to the stakes allowed and the number of players who can participate at a time.

Ladbrokes, for one, uses Evolution Gaming’s platform with live dealers streamed from the EG studio in Latvia plus supplemental games supplied by CWC Gaming’s operations in Costa Rica. Available game options include baccarat, blackjack, roulette and sic bo, with play possible directly in a browser window without download. Blue Square, Betsson, Paddy Power and Unibet also have the EG feed, but because they lack the CWC component, they do not offer sic bo.

When comparing live dealer online casinos, game variety is not the only factor to consider. Some venues specialise in low limits, such as Euro Grand. Its roulette feed from Playtech’s Euro Studio in Latvia is the same as Betfair’s, but the minimum bets at €0.10 and €1.00, respectively. Meanwhile, William Hill uses both Playtech and Evolution Gaming as roulette providers, but with stakes of €0.10~€1,000 at the former and €2~€40,000 at the latter.

Quite a few live dealer online casinos have begun providing “free play” versions of their games to allow prospective customers to try the waters before diving in. They include Celtic Casino, Castle Casino and Fairway Casino using Visionary iGaming’s platform for roulette, blackjack and baccarat. Similarly, Dublinbet and Lucky Live Casino provide free sample play of those games with the Vuetec platform.

For Americans who wish to participate in live dealer table games, the choices are rather limited. Online casinos affiliated with Microgaming or Playtech are prohibited from signing on U.S. residents, owing to the restrictions set forth by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Two of the few U.S.-friendly live dealer online casinos are Bogarts and BetPhoenix. They use proprietary software and offer free play as well.

Most online casinos no longer require the downloading of applications to access their table games. Players simply register accounts and start playing directly from their browser windows. Also, because the live dealer sections of most online casinos are fully integrated with their traditional gaming software, only a single player account is needed to take advantage of the full array of games.

One other consideration to keep in mind is the availability of bonuses. Many casinos provide incentives to those who are new to live dealer games. It is certainly worth shopping around to find the best deals, which can run from €50 or €100 to €1,000, €3,000 or more in deposit matches and promotional play.

Published on: 07/01/2013

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