We present the most popular live dealer casinos, compare the various software platforms, and answer the most common questions about playing live casino games.
The most absorbing way of playing casino games is at a real world casino with all the glitz and glamour, fun and excitement, and live table action. The latter is the one thing that is missing from the online gambling experience - all you're really doing is clicking buttons and watching game animations. But one way to spice things up is to play at live dealer casinos.
Here you get to see an actual roulette wheel being spun by a real croupier, or to see the blackjack table with real cards being dealt to you by a real dealer - all in real time. You can even chat to the dealer and to other players, usually in your choice of language.
Live Dealer Casinos - The Shortlist
Here are our most highly rated casinos for live action:
Live dealer technology and software
Today's sophisticated technology brings live dealer games to your screen via video streaming. Sometimes the action may be filmed in an actual casino, but more often it will be filmed in a purpose built studio. These are state of the art custom designed sets that have dedicated tables for live play. This gives you the sense of being an authentic part of the casino table, which adds immeasurably to the excitement of the games.
There are many technological aspects that must all come together to produce a successful live dealer experience. The studio lighting needs to be set up properly, the action has to be filmed and converted to a video feed, which then needs to be cleverly compressed to strike the right balance between high definition quality and bandwidth resource use. This has to then be combined with a graphical user interface to allow you to take game actions, which in turn need to be fed back to the studio so that your bets can be placed and your game actions taken on the live table. And all of this needs to be done in real time.
Fortunately live dealer casino technology has come a long way in recent years. Today it uses high definition video cameras to relay the live action to you, using the very latest in video streaming technology. High speed broadband connectivity means that you get virtually true to life graphical quality, with reliable and uninterrupted streaming.
The software is usually Flash based, which means that the live dealer casino opens in your browser window. It uses the Flash plug-in that is built into your browser to handle the streaming input and deliver the sound and visuals to you.
Live dealer casino software
Live dealer casinos usually use external third party software to deliver the action to you. There are some very established and experienced live dealer platform providers that provide the necessary software and other technology that is required. Two of the most prominent are Microgaming and Playtech. These developers offer a live dealer component as part of their overall gaming platforms, while other developers, like Evolution Gaming, are dedicated live casino platform providers.
Here's an overview of the main live dealer casino platform developers.
This company has a long history of providing one of the top online casino platforms, and it's deal with Playboy in 2014 took its live dealer product to another level. It has an excellent reputation and is a large development house that provides good support. Its platform is very secure and is certified by eCOGRA, with comprehensive auditing. The live dealer software allows you to play more than one game simultaneously, with fast play actions. You can adjust the quality of the video stream to suit your bandwidth connection and can select different view options.
Another of the online gambling giants, Playtech also has a long history and a very good reputation. It has a very reliable video feed from tables located in Europe, with a plush dealer room that really does provide an engaging playing experience. It is audited and certified by TST and has the latest in security technology. There is a large variety of tables for you to choose from and you can play at a number of different tables at the same time. It boasts real high definition, with a TV quality, full screen video feed.
VUE Tech runs a dedicated live dealer platform as an independent developer. Its hallmark is that it streams live games directly from a real casino, so you have a more immersive experience, with real casino sights and sounds in the background. It gives you the ability to preview the games before signing up and playing, and also offers a high level of security. You can play at multiple tables at the same time.
Another smaller, independent provider, Evolution Gaming has nonetheless managed to accumulate a very wide user base. It is also completely dedicated to offering live dealer casino environments, and offers more game variety than any other software provider. It offers a big screen size video feed in high definition, while at the same time providing an optimised stream that allows play at slower connection speeds. You can choose from a number of table view options and can play at several tables at once. They operate a hi-tech live studio in Malta.
A Note for Mac Users
Mac users may encounter problems with Playtech and Vuetec software. We suggest Microgaming and Evolution gaming casinos for live games if you are on a Mac.
Advantages of live dealer casinos
Of course the biggest advantage of playing at a live dealer casino is the increased realism compared to standard online gambling. The ability to actually see the dealer and interact in real time with the cards, chips and other actions on the table is quite a thrill.
Another advantage is that you are always kept alert. When just interacting with software it's easy to fall into a routine of clicking. Having a live dealer on your screen has the psychological effect of keeping you more alert and responsive.
Being able to chat to the live dealer in real time is also an advantage - you're having an interaction with a real person while you're playing, and are able to have any queries answered immediately.
And of course there's the added attraction that most of the live dealers are very easy on the eye!
Live dealer games on iPad
The question a lot of people will be asking is whether or not it's possible to play at a live dealer casino using an iPad. The answer is almost invariably that you can. The reason for this is that the live dealer casino doesn't use software that is downloaded and installed - it opens in a browser window, and runs using Flash technology. So as long as the browser on your iPad (usually Safari) has the Flash plug-in installed, you're good to go.
Live dealer casino FAQs
Most live dealer casinos offer the most popular table and card games, with an emphasis on roulette and blackjack. It's also not unusual to find live dealer baccarat. Less common are some of the other casino games, like the card poker games such as 3 card poker and speciality games like sic bo, but you can still find them if you look around enough.
Once you're at the casino website simply look for a tab or link indicating Live Games and click on it. A new window will open containing a registration form for you to open an account. Follow the steps and then follow the process of depositing funds. Once you have transferred money into your account, simply click on the game you want to play and it will open.
The best thing to do is to consult our list of the top live dealer casinos. Also look for casinos that offer the software that we discussed above. Make sure that the casino is properly licensed (a reputable casino will give its licensing information) and that it is certified with some sort of regulatory body like eCOGRA or GamCare. With those boxes ticked it becomes a matter of your personal taste in gaming interface, bonuses and other promotions.
Unfortunately you can usually only play live dealer games for real money. Which stands to reason if you think about it a little - there's not much sense in having a live dealer on standby just so players can have some fun on the tables; the casino needs to make money off live dealer games to justify them.
Yes, the game moves at a pace that allows all players plenty of time to decide what to do and communicate this to the dealer. You'll never have a problem with time.