The technology behind live casinos
The gambling world is almost recognisable to what it was 20 or even 10 years ago thanks to several technological advances. Online gambling has completely revolutionised the gambling industry, helping the remote sector to significantly bolster its market share in recent years. In the UK, it brings in more than a third of all gambling revenue – making it the largest single gambling sector.
This is largely to do with the fact that online casinos provide gamblers with a way to play their favourite games from the comfort of their own home – or if they’re on the move – using any device. But it’s not just convenience that’s seen millions of players head online rather than visit their local casino – the games are better and faster than ever.
The pinnacle of casino technology right now is live casinos, which link players up with dealers in real-time, bringing that human element to the fore and injecting virtual operators with personality. As well as giving players that personal touch, live casinos also make it possible to employ game strategies that wouldn’t be possible with online games powered by a random number generator – such as card counting in blackjack, and judging the ball velocity in roulette.
Random number generators simulate the unpredictable nature of games in real life, and are used by the bulk of online animated software titles.
Here we take a look at how live casinos are able to offer the most immersive online casino experience through enhanced digital technology.
Online casino games: a history
Casinos have long been at the forefront of technological advances, pinpointing advances in technology as a way to reach a wider audience and make money. Video poker was perhaps the first proper technological advancement in the gambling world, but it wasn’t until 1996 when the industry took its first tentative steps into online gambling.
A developer named Microgaming created the first ever online gambling software in 1994, but it wasn’t until two years later that the first bet was accepted online. In 1996 InterCasino opened their metaphorical internet doors and offered customers the opportunity to play 18 casino games from the comfort of their own home.
Since then there has been an explosion in the online casino industry with literally thousands of companies developing their own software and offering their services to the market. Thanks to enhancements in digital technology that offer online casinos greater storage, better graphics and faster speeds, virtual operators can provide an almost-unlimited variety of games that are slicker than ever. And the global online gambling market is all the better for it – now forecast to be worth around $60 billion by 2023.
Online casinos and live streaming
The implementation of live streaming requires an enormous investment on the part of online providers. Not only are there the initial up-front costs of technology, but there are the expenses of employing new staff and paying people to maintain the software.
Funding on maintenance staff is a major area of concern for online providers, as they want to ensure that their service is smooth, uninterrupted and reliable.
Service is at the heart of live casinos. Dealers are not only highly trained, they’re very experienced – and embody all the glamour you’d expect from a croupier at a land-based casino. Plus, high rollers get treated as VIPs, because they’re given more specialised service – often in a smaller game room.
Choice is also important, and this is why you’ll find a variety of games on offer at a live casino, including the likes of roulette, blackjack and poker.
The technology behind live casinos
At the centre of live casino technology is a Game Control Unit, which powers the gameplay by encoding the video stream that allows the dealer to manage the game from studios across the world.
These studios are based across Europe and in Canada. Inside, three cameras film the action – ensuring that players get the best view possible of the game from different angles. The quality is incredibly good. It’s captured in HD at a rate of 200 frames per second, and features Optical Camera Recognition. Image rendering technology is used to cast images behind the dealer, who’s also able to communicate with the player through high-quality audio.
When playing live roulette, the quality of the video stream is particularly important, as players might want to see how the ball moves around the wheel before placing a bet. Every wheel is different, and being able to judge the ball velocity and trajectory gives players a massive advantage when they’re going after the jackpot.
Previously, the experience of playing roulette left a lot to be desired on a 2D screen, and it’s one online game that live casino technology has improved immeasurably. You can see this for yourself by playing live roulette with real dealers at one of the more premium live casino operators.
Live streaming in sports betting
Traditionally, if you wanted to see the results of the horse race you’d had a flutter on, you’d either have to go to the race itself or head down to the bookmakers. Once there, you’d sit huddled around a tiny TV with dozens of other punters cheering on their various horses.
Live streaming put the reins on that, with punters now being able to enjoy live racing streams on their TV, computer or mobile device. Most major sports betting firms offer customers live streaming not just on horse racing, but most other sports too. In football it can be tough to watch a game you cannot attend thanks to some pretty tough TV licensing laws.
You can go to the game itself, buy a sports TV subscription or trawl through a series of dodgy websites to find an illegal stream. Or you can place a small bet on a match with a bookmaker and watch the live stream on their website.
TV streaming also enables punter to make more informed sports bets. For seasoned sports gamblers it’s also helped influence their decisions when betting on some obscure Eastern European or South American football match. How can you be confident on picking the next goal scorer in the game between Stumbras and Trakai? Watching the live stream of the game gives you a much better choice of making an knowledgeable decision.
Live streaming has already had a massive impact on the gambling industry. Far from being an imitation of the real thing, live casinos are popular among players looking for an authentic experience in addition to something that’s merely just convenient.
What’s next for live casino? Well, experts are suggesting that it is the first step towards a virtual reality casino. Online operators are expected to set up their own actual casinos that allow punters to step in via a virtual reality headset. With such advances on the not-too-distant horizon, it’s no wonder land-based casinos are so anxious about what moves their online counterparts will make next.