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You’ll find that we cover live casinos in every one of our online casinos reviews. That’s because this is a popular product at online casinos and most players are keen on knowing how good a particular live casino offer is. Here we will tell you everything you need to know about live casinos and how to choose one that suits you.
First of all we should answer the question what live casinos even are. After all, you’re at an online casino, not a brick-and-mortar old-fashioned kind of casino, which is most certainly the epitome of live. And you usually don’t expect anything to be truly ‘live’ here, do you?
In fact, the first online casinos were all exclusively steered by computers and programs. Nobody even thought of live dealers being an option back then. The divide between online and land-based casinos was clear. But in 2003 Playtech decided to try something new and so they offered the very first live games. Back then that was Blackjack, because it’s easy enough.
Considering that neither Internet speeds nor technologies were quite there yet, the venture didn’t take off. Players weren’t interested in live streaming just yet and the technology was still too expensive for live tables to be feasible.
But the idea caught on with Microgaming and Evolution Gaming, both of whom decided to keep pursuing the technology and as Internet speeds became faster and players were able to connect via broadband instead of dial-up, live casinos gained in popularity.
Now there’s hardly an online casino that doesn’t offer live tables with live dealers, even if sometimes you only find three different games. The player demand is there and if you want to know which live casinos are best, you’re in the right place.
Whilst live casinos don’t quite offer the same atmosphere that brick-and-mortar casinos have, you do get to face a real life dealer and will share the table with other real life players.
Usually online casinos reserve a separate section for live casino games. That means you won’t accidentally take a seat at a table without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Plus, live casino games can never be played just for fun like most other casino games. If you take a seat, you really should place a bet, but even that is not required right away.
Of course, your seat at the table is only virtual, but the table is quite real, located either in an actual land-based casino or in a dedicated studio – the latter is more common nowadays. There is a live dealer and you’ll be able to see him or her. They are highly trained, of course, because you are playing for real here and not against a computer.
The table is filmed, often from multiple angles (usually with Roulette), but you will also see a partially computer-generated overlay to give you a better view of the game and allow for easier interaction when choosing your moves and placing your bets.
Dealers will either deal the cards as they would in a normal casino, or spin the Roulette wheel. They can see your actions on a separate computer screen and react accordingly, determining wins and losses.
Whilst computers play still a big part in this interaction, you will have other players at the table and there is an actual person on the other end, guiding the game. Nowadays video streaming is so fast and advanced that the lag is less than a second and therefore negligible.
There are a number of different live casino providers you may encounter when perusing live games. Here are the ones you’ll most often find:
Evolution Gaming – Undeniably the market leader. Evolution Gaming has been around for just over a decade, having been founded in 2006. Their tables can be found at a huge number of online casinos and they’re certainly among the most popular providers. They’ve been receiving industry awards for years now for their products and operate the most advanced studios out there right now, offering all manner of live games.
NetEnt – NetEnt is one of the biggest and best online gambling software providers out there. They may mostly be known for their slots, but NetEnt also provides a good number of live games. They can certainly hold their own against the competition and can be found frequently at NetEnt casinos, though rarely exclusively.
Microgaming – If you have a Microgaming casino, especially one that offers only Microgaming games, you can be certain that the live casino also features Microgaming’s live tables. They were among the first to get really into the live gambling products, which can hardly be surprising, because so many early online casinos opted for Microgaming as their sole providers of casino games. You will not find them very much at casinos that are not exclusive to Microgaming.
Playtech – Whilst Playtech was the pioneering online gambling provider that first ventured into the live gambling business, their products make only for a small portion of the business now. You’ll find their live tables at Playtech-run casinos, of course. But often other providers will be available there too now.
Extreme Live Gaming – This is a Novomatic subsidiary and thus you’ll find Extreme Live Gaming tables at online casinos that offer Novomatic games. There aren’t that many around, though, but Extreme Live Gaming can also be found at other casinos, especially smaller ones with a limited live casino offer. They can be considered up and coming and have an excellent portfolio.
Live casino games are always and only table games. There’s no such thing as a live casino slot, just in case you were wondering.
Among the most popular choices are Roulette, Blackjack and Baccarat. We have separate articles on all three games and their live versions for you. You’re welcome to read in-depths about these games there.
Since Casino Poker is also quite popular and in lieu of having an actual Poker network, you will find Texas Hold’em, 3 Card Poker and Casino Hold’em quite often as part of the live casino offer as well.
More extensive live casinos may also include Sic Bo and Craps, but those are usually quite rare and not even often found among the table game section of online casinos.
Part of the fun and appeal of playing at live casinos online are the interactions not just with the dealers, but often with other players as well.
You’ll find that dealers are always young, attractive women and, less frequently, men, who are engaging, polite and certainly charming. You’re not simply playing against a computer as with most online casino games and the action feels closer to visiting a land-based casino.
Additionally, dealers won’t just state the facts of the game back to you, but will welcome you to a table and congratulate you on your wins.
The most advanced live casinos have proper chat features that allow you to talk to the dealer and to other players as well, making the social experience part of the fun of playing here. Whilst the overall pace is a lot slower than when you play normal casino games, the atmosphere is definitely very different and players usually don’t mind a more relaxed gambling environment.
By the way, abusing dealers in any way, shape or form is not tolerated at any live casinos. Dealers are just doing their jobs and they are always friendly and professional. It behoves players to behave accordingly. If abuse is detected on a player’s part, they will not only be kicked off the table (regardless of the stage in the game, perhaps forfeiting winnings), but in severe cases their IP addresses will be blocked from accessing this or perhaps all other live casinos of that provider.
If you were abusive towards a dealer in a brick-and-mortar casino, you’d be kicked out as well. So be polite and enjoy the game.
Given the increasing popularity of live casinos, many online casinos have now added special live casino promotions to their offers. Indeed, quite a few of the big online casinos such as bet365 or 888, among others, even include special sign-up promotions for live casino players.
In such cases the bonus you receive is meant to be used on live tables and wagering requirements are quite different to your normal casino bonus. We’ve seen live casino bonuses where gambling at live tables counts 100% towards completing wagering requirements.
Normal casino bonuses can often be used for live games as well, but sometimes they don’t count towards playthrough requirements at all or only 5 to 10%.
Such welcome bonuses aside, many online casinos have dedicated promotions for live casino players. Those can be regularly recurring promotions or simply a new offer valid for a limited time. You’ll find such promotions at Mr. Green, Leo Vegas, Guts, Betsson and many other casinos. In our reviews we will make sure to mention such bonuses and promotions as well.
Mobile gambling is becoming increasingly popular and there are very few online casinos that don’t have a mobile optimised platform available. Functionality differs between casinos, though, and not all of them will also offer live gambling via their mobile sites.
Yet you will find that more often than not you will get a few live tables even via mobile, especially with the bigger and better online casinos. For some it is simply a matter of pride to include as many games for mobile players as possible.
As it stands, mobile gambling and live gambling are the two areas where casinos can expect the best growth, so it seems only natural that it should be possible to play live games on the go as well.
Quality will vary as well, of course, not just the availability of different tables. And you will still need a stable Internet connection and a good smartphone or tablet. Considering the screen size of some mobile devices, however, the experience of playing a live casino mobile may not be superb.
We will make sure to list all our preferred online casinos for you and as it is, almost all of them also feature at least some live games, only very few don’t have a live casino section yet. In our reviews we’ll always mention just how many live games are available and what kind they are.
We will also mention whether special live casino promotions are available, which is not always the case.
So, when it comes to choosing the best live casino for yourself, we will try to make recommendations, but here are a few things to consider:
You may or may not have a preference for a particular live casino provider, so we’ll let you know what to expect with a given casino. That also includes which games are available and how many tables you might be able to join. A casino with only three tables may not have room for you when you like to play, so one that offers more tables might be the better option.
It always matters how reputable a casino is, no matter what product you’re looking for. So that’s something to keep in mind. And it is certainly an advantage, if a casino has live casino offers and bonuses available, because they do mean more fun for you.
Last but not least, when using such a bonus, you’ll want to keep wagering requirements in mind and how much live casino games may or may not contribute.
If you have any questions or thoughts on the matter, you’re welcome to share them with us.