The Past, Present, and Future of Live Dealer Games

Life, Live Dealer

The Past, Present, and Future of Live Dealer Games

Life, Live Dealer

A deck of cards and gambling chips on a black and purple background with neon effects

The Past, Present, and Future of Live Dealer Games

Life, Live Dealer

While online casinos offer plenty of popular casino games to play from the comfort of your home, there are some aspects of brick-and-mortar casino gaming that many players miss. In response to this, various online gambling sites now offer live dealer casino games to bridge the gap between the offline and online gambling experiences. But what are live dealer games? How can you play online live dealer casino games? And what is known about the past, present, and future of these games?

Read on to explore the answers to these questions and more.

What Are Live Dealer Games?

Live dealer games are games hosted by a live dealer (that’s right, a real human) for an online casino. These casino games are broadcast online from specially equipped studios, which often have professional lighting, multiple cameras, high-quality microphones, and sometimes even green screens. While some studios show other live dealer games taking place in the background, others choose to keep it to one game per studio room — it all depends on the online game casino you’re playing at.

You can interact with the dealer and the game in real-time via text, voice, and video chat (depending on the platform), giving you a more social gaming experience than playing online against a machine-run game. Live dealer games also provide an additional layer of trust for those who prefer not to play against random number generators (RNGs) in digital games.

Some of the most common live dealer games are blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and three-card poker, but you also get other games like the lottery, bingo, and wheel games. These games use the traditional equipment you’d expect from the live version of the game, but bets are made and tracked digitally, so chips are often absent from the table.

The Past

The first online casino launched in 1994, just months after the internet became accessible to the public, and over a decade before live dealer games really took off. The introduction of these online game casinos was only possible thanks to several developments.

The first of these was the passing of the Free Trade and Processing Act in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994. This law allowed organizations to apply for a license to operate online gambling sites. The second was the development of online casino software, with renowned developer Microgaming claiming to have developed the first true casino online betting software in the same year the Free Trade and Processing Act was passed.

However, it wasn’t until Cryptologic developed and launched secure, encrypted communications for financial transactions in 1995 that the first real-money gambling sites got off the ground. The first real-money online wager took place not long after, in 1996.

The online gambling sites that appeared during the mid-1990s were basic. Computers were not the multimedia powerhouses they’ve become and would’ve struggled to load just the operating systems used on modern computers, let alone software like internet browsers, apps, or games.

Internet connectivity was also incredibly limited. The first internet-enabled devices most regular people had access to offered speeds measured in kilobits per second. Many users owned internet dial-up modems (remember them?), which could only provide speeds between 28.8Kbps and 56.6Kbps — a far cry from the zippy speeds most people have access to today.

These computers and internet connections were just about fast enough to load short, low-quality, and low-resolution video clips — and even then, the connection would take some time to buffer the video before it played. But it wouldn’t be too long before technology would reach the point where live dealer games would be not only possible but also a great way to play.

Trailblazing the Live Format

In 1998, a poker website called Planet Poker became the first to bring live dealer games to players on its platform. The implementation was inferior by today’s standards, which was unsurprising considering broadband internet would really only start to take off a year later. Still, it demonstrated that the idea could work.

In 2006, after broadband internet had truly become mainstream, two companies decided to launch live dealer gaming services. One of these was Microgaming, the online gambling pioneer that launched a live baccarat service before expanding its offering to include other games like blackjack, roulette, and poker. The second was a company that only offered live dealer games: Evolution Gaming. This specialist service quickly became a popular way for many casinos to provide live dealer games to their players, with the “live casino” offering many games, including blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker.

Casinos and entrepreneurs saw the potential and demand for playing live dealer games, and the industry grew. New providers appeared, existing game developers began to offer their services, and others offered live dealer games directly from their brick-and-mortar casinos. Live dealer games also got mobile support as smartphones and tablets became popular ways for people to play at online casinos. Playboy even got in on the action, with “bunny” live dealers running games for players worldwide.

In 2017, game developer Playtech launched the world’s largest live dealer studio in Riga, Latvia. It was equipped with the latest tools for broadcasting the games, as well as hundreds of custom-made items for the studio, dealers, and gaming areas, a state-of-the-art monitoring and control center, and even a training campus. The attention to detail and extensive facilities showed how much the company was investing in this growing part of the industry.

While it’s great to be able to look back at where the live dealer industry has come from, many readers might be wondering, “How popular does this type of game remain today?”

The Present

People who love to play live dealer casino games probably already know the good news, considering the number of games being launched. This casino game genre continues to thrive and, according to H2 Gambling Capital, is now estimated to be worth about $1.2 billion per year. This is undoubtedly a reassuring sign for fans of this type of casino game — not only will these games be around for a while, but many new titles and developers are likely to jump on the live-dealer bandwagon in the future, too.

While these estimates are undoubtedly positive, a report from the United States Online Gambling Market, “Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2020–2025),” shows live dealer games, already popular for a while in Europe, are still growing in popularity in the U.S. despite the country’s incredibly strict online gambling laws. These strict laws possibly explain why the U.S. is still seen as a fledgling market for live dealer games. While such games have been on the rise for many years, the Covid-19 pandemic also helped to escalate demand for a more “traditional,” “casino-like” experience for people to enjoy online.

Whatever the exact reason, casinos and companies like Evolution Gaming are investing heavily into growing this genre of games in the U.S. This means the market is expected to grow even further, particularly as more states consider changing their laws regarding online and offline gambling. 

In addition to these positive developments, various software developers will release new live dealer games in 2024. These include Playtech’s Sticky Bandits Roulette Live and Bet365 Super Mega Ultra Live, Evolution’s Stock Market Live, and Pragmatic’s Blackjack X, to name just a few.

Evolution’s Giant Leap Forward

Another major, if not the biggest, recent development in the live dealer gaming space is the acquisition of NetEnt by live dealer gaming studio Evolution Gaming. On June 24, 2020, Evolution Gaming announced it was making a public offer to the shareholders of NetEnt worth approximately $2.1 billion. NetEnt opened its doors as a casino game developer back in 1996 and became a key player in the industry. The company has released many online slot hits, including Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest, and Guns N’ Roses. The highly successful studio saw the potential of live dealer games and launched NetEnt Live in 2013 to compete with other live dealer game providers. By combining NetEnt’s massive library of successful gaming hits with Evolution Gaming’s incredible live dealer service, a new powerhouse in the iGaming space would emerge. 

On December 1, 2020, Evolution Gaming completed its acquisition of NetEnt, moving forward under the new name, Evolution. This merger would see the end of the NetEnt Live service, even though other products would still be published under the NetEnt brand.

The purchase of NetEnt by Evolution Gaming shows a significant shift in the online gambling industry: live dealer games now lead the online space. After all, it was a live dealer company that acquired a company better known for online slots, not the other way around. This also shows the levels of success the live dealer genre of games has achieved in such a short time, which is undoubtedly a great sign for the sector’s growth.

The Latest Advancements in Live Dealer Casino Games

Aside from the emergence of Evolution, the live dealer casino gaming sector has undergone various other changes and advancements. Here’s where it stands as of 2024:

  • Cloud-based live dealer platforms: These are gaining popularity due to their scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. This shift allows operators to easily integrate live dealer games into their existing infrastructure without significant investments in hardware and infrastructure.
  • AI-powered chatbots: Bots are becoming more sophisticated, enabling more personalized and engaging interactions between players and live dealers.
  • Expanding variety of live dealer games: With casino online betting sites regularly introducing new titles and variations, the selection of games is expanding rapidly. This includes niche games like live sic bo and live game shows like The Chase.
  • Live dealer casinos are exploring VR and AR technologies: This will further blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
  • Live dealer casinos are prioritizing security: These priorities include implementing advanced encryption, secure payment processing, and regular audits to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • The sector is emphasizing responsible gaming practices: Player limits, self-exclusion options, and educational resources promote responsible gambling habits.
  • An increased demand for live dealer games on mobile devices. Operators are optimizing their live dealer platforms for mobile devices, providing seamless, high-quality gaming experiences on the go.
  • The industry is seeing more partnerships and collaborations: Operators, software providers, and other stakeholders are increasingly working together. These partnerships drive innovation, improve the gaming experience, and expand the reach of live dealer games.
  • Increased investments in technology: These include advancements in camera systems, streaming quality, and game development.

While fans will undoubtedly be pleased to hear about the continued growth of live dealer games, what specific developments can they look forward to?

The Future

While there might not be a crystal ball to help anyone see what is yet to come, experts expect live dealer providers to explore many paths and options in the future. Here are some possibilities to get excited about.

More Games

Game providers know that more variety will benefit the industry in the long run, which is why big companies have already begun introducing completely new experiences, as seen by Evolution Gaming’s 2020 release, Crazy Time. While the concept behind this new game show may not completely reinvent the wheel, it’s still something original, which definitely means it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to giving players more gaming choices.

Better Games on the Go With 5G

While you can happily enjoy live dealer gaming on a stable Wi-Fi or home internet connection, some mobile internet solutions like 4G are still not ideal for live games and may disconnect or cause your actions to lag when you play. This is why so many people are excited about the arrival of 5G, which not only increases the speed of your connection but offers far greater reliability and responsiveness. Not only will individual players be able to receive better service on the go, but the quality of live dealer games being produced for this medium should also improve.

More Mobile-Compatible Experiences

Many live casino providers now offer players the option to play games on mobile and have taken steps to improve the stability and performance of the games they make available. However, the range of games offered is smaller than the number of games on PC, which is understandable considering the screen size of many mobile devices.

Luckily, developers have found ways to provide access to games that hadn’t previously been playable on the go, and there’s hope that solutions may be found for other games that currently don’t have mobile support so that the full range of games can be accessed across mobile and desktop devices.

Higher Quality of Interaction

While live dealer games undoubtedly provide a more interactive and social experience than regular online casino games, it’s likely developers will look for even more ways for players to connect with the dealer and each other.

For example, while most platforms allow players to chat with the dealer, many don’t allow banter between them. By providing players with the option to engage more easily, many platforms could begin building stronger gaming communities. Allowing players to create clubs or private rooms for the friends they make on the platform is another way to push the social aspect of live gaming and keep them coming back.

In addition to this, providers could develop quality-of-life improvements, such as better notification systems, or simply cool, fun extras, such as custom emojis and bots that run mini-games or execute music requests. Augmented-reality-style gestures could even be on the cards as the technology progresses for providers who allow players to use their webcams. One thing’s for sure: this is an exciting space to watch.

Virtual Reality

VR live dealer games may begin with simple fixed-camera setups at tables, where the camera moves according to the player’s VR headset. Eventually, though, this idea may be taken further through robotic avatars or similar machines the player can use to view, navigate, and interact with their real environment. The experience looks set to become even smoother and more seamless. 

Even Better Video and Production Quality

People who’ve been playing live casino games will have seen how the video and production quality has improved over time. Where players once only had low-resolution video options due to internet and live casino budget constraints, they now have access to much higher-quality video streams and better-produced games. 

In addition, where the studios’ recording and game equipment were once of much lower quality, game providers can now afford to spend more money on better-quality sets, such as game tables and equipment, including professional cameras, lighting, and sound equipment. This helps to elevate the overall look and feel of live dealer games and further cement their place in the industry. 

All these upgrades have improved the player experience. As tools develop and game studios become more sophisticated, players will be able to have better quality experiences thanks to even higher production values.

Play Online Live Dealer Casino Games at Borgata Online

Now that you know all there is to know about the then, the now, and the future of live dealer casino games, it’s time to play some. Luckily, you’ll find some of the industry’s best titles at Borgata Online. There’s something for everyone on the growing menu, from classic live casino table games to live game shows. If you live or play in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, register to start exploring, placing bets, and discovering the future of casino online betting.