What is the future of Live Casino gambling online?
Can internet casino ever replace Las Vegas? We analyse what the new Live Dealer developments in 2018 could mean for the real thing.
Live Dealer games have come such a long way from their modest beginnings in a corner of a Dublin casino that it's hard to believe they've only been around for a decade or so.
As well as over 400 online casino games, Betway has dozens of live casino games available to real-money players including baccarat, roulette, and blackjack.
But where is the format heading, and what might you expect to find online in the coming months?
How Live Casino works
Essentially, Live Dealer games bring a land-based casino experience onto your PC. With a good internet connection and a reasonable graphics card, gamblers can take on human croupiers stationed thousands of miles away.
The action is handled by a human croupier using specialised cards that are scanned as they are dealt from the shoe.
In Live Roulette, a real-life roulette wheel is used, with a real-life ball. Bets are placed in the usual way by the player, who drags and drops virtual chips onto the relevant areas of the table. The dealer then follows the betting action on their monitors and gives prompts via a microphone. The computer does the rest.
Benefits of Live Casino games
The beauty of live casino games is that you never have to set foot in an offline casino. A graphics card and live stream are all you need to get your fill of Vegas-style roulette and blackjack.
In some variants, like Betway Casino's own Immersive Roulette, you can pick from a range of camera angles, too. Depending on the number of tables available you can even pick your own dealer, all of whom are trained to a professional standard.
The main concept of Live Dealer games has remained the same since their inception, but what does the future hold?
Leading developers like Evolution Gaming are leading the way in improving the overall experience, so what could we expect to see in 2018?
Top 5 future developments
1. Custom Live Dealer
A more customisable gambling experience is important to operators. Casino lobbies can already be filtered to only display favourites on-screen, for instance, but developers are beginning to look at ways that slots can be personalised, too.
Live Dealer games could be customised to feature a choice of decks or a more personal gambling experience to one specific player.
2. First Person Gaming
First Person Gaming (FPG) was unveiled by Evolution Gaming at ICE, the industry expo, in 2018.
Starting off with an immersive 3D roulette game, the player can opt to switch to "Go LIVE" and continue their games on a Live Dealer table. It's the first move into traditional RNG (random number generator) online casino games for the leading Live Casino developer.
3. Lucky numbers
Also unveiled at ICE 2018, Evolution Gaming's Lightning Roulette game is a natural extension of traditional Live Roulette. In addition to the regular inside and outside bets, numbers from one to five are drawn at random on each game round. These add potential extra wins to the player's pot.
The Lightning Roulette RNG comes up with 'lucky payouts' worth 50-1 to 500-1 on Straight Up bets placed on the lucky numbers.
4. Virtual Reality
VR casinos have been a reality for a few years now, but a fully-stocked, fully-immersive VR online casino is still some way away.
NetEnt have adapted several of their big slots for VR headsets, but they are very much in the trial phase. Similarly, Microgaming have experimented with VR roulette, complete with flying asteroids and all manner of background additions to keep players amused.
VR and Live Casino are a perfect marriage, however. The idea of Live Dealer is to immerse yourself in the offline casino setting. So why not put on a headset and put yourself right in the heart of a casino, up close with the dealer as the cards are dealt?
Headsets like the Samsung Gear and Google Daydream are now cheap enough to make a VR Live Casino offering a real prospect. All it takes is a casino software developer to get on board.
5. Dual play (Vic)
The appeal of Live Casino is that it puts the player in the heart of a real-life casino without having to step away from their laptop, though you never see any other players at the table or join in with their momentous wins. But that's a thing of the past.
Trialled at London's iconic Grosvenor Victoria casino, 'Dual Play Roulette' will let players on the casino premises play alongside online players sitting at home. These special Vic tables will be set up with multiple cameras to give online users different options for viewing the action.
Goodbye to online casino?
Live Casino is very much still in its infancy. It requires semi-decent equipment on the part of the player, there are limited languages available, and free-play isn't always an option.
But in terms of game usability, there have been plenty of leaps forward. VR, Dual Play, and better HD streams will all help improve the players' overall experience. And if the stakes and prizes become more inclusive, then more people will enjoy the Live Casino games.
The world's first Live Texas Hold'em progressive jackpot (worth €50,000) was announced in January by Evolution Gaming. It's the first step towards side bets and bonus bets for players gambling on their laptops and tablets.
Progressives have been around for years in online slots and table games, so it's a natural step for Live Casino to join in the fun.
And, best of all, you don't even have to fight for a seat at the table.