A Live Dealer offering is an absolute must in Asia and its popularity with online gamblers continues to grow around the globe. As we become technologically smarter, Live Dealer software continues to innovate and improve in offering players as close to aphysical casino experience as possible, remotely.
The secret sauce of the best Live Dealer offering is something any operator would like to master and Live Dealer enthusiast David of LiveDealer.org has made it his job to evaluatethe landscape.
David founded, owns and manages livedealer.org, a five year old affiliate site dedicated to educating Live Dealer lovers like himself on what offerings are available to them.I had the opportunity to talk with David and hear about his vast knowledge in the Live Dealer space, a vertical that is becoming more and more important for online gambling industry operators today.
Becky Liggero: Thank you David for this opportunity to share with us your expertise on Live Dealer offerings. Can you start by telling us the story behind livedealer.org?
David:I started playing live games, loved them and being inquisitive by nature wanted to know more about them…who operated the games, where the studios were located etc. Back then (early 2009) there wasn’t much reliable info around so livedealer.org was born!
BL: Can you tell me why Live Dealer is exploding in popularity around the world at present?
D:I remember playing my first live dealer game online and thinking, wow…this is a pretty compelling offering. It combines the trust factor associated with real/traditional casino equipment (as opposed to assurances that the computer will generate a random outcome for RNG) with the ability to play remotely. Throw in a very engaging dealer and user friendly, intuitive interface and I was hooked. And that was when the live video was a small, low resolution stream capturing a pretty ordinary looking studio (if you call a blue screen background a studio).
Product delivery has improved markedly since then; full screen video, HD stream, attractive studios, private rooms, mobile capability etc, which only enhances the gaming experience, but I think the fundamental reason for this product’s appeal remains the same…real games and therefore real random outcomes, playable online.
BL: Its true that the product delivery has improved so much since Live Dealer came on to the scene- what would you say are the latest innovations in Live Dealer offerings?
D: Its probably worth dividing ‘innovation’ into 2 categories here. The first is significant, one-off developments (eg availability for mobile play). The second is incremental but constant change in delivery quality. You may not notice the second if you play at a given casino/platform over a few of months. But if you have played consistently over a number of years, or better still, have video recordings of games from that casino/platform from a number of years ago the comparison of then versus now is remarkable. It’s quite obvious that the bigger platforms devote considerable resource to continual improvement in delivery technology, studio ambience etc.
As for the immediately noticeable innovations, the biggest trend in the last few months has been multi-table play capability, allowing players to have for example a live blackjack, roulette and baccarat table all open at once on a single screen. Continuing roll-out of mobile capability, localisation (dealer language and local in-casino streams), and expansion in private casino-branded areas (and innovative promotions run in private table areas) is also noticeable.
BL: Live Dealer really is going to be an interesting space to watch as the technology continues to develop. Can you describe the state of mobile and tablet offerings in the Live Dealer market today?
D: Seems everyone wants to be able to do everything on their mobile device today, and developers all feel they have to be mobile capable. Live dealer software providers are no exception and live games playable on iOS devices started appearing in 2012.
I must admit, I never felt that mobile and live dealer was a good fit. One of the enjoyable aspects of these games is human element added by the dealer, some of whom can be particularly pleasant company! Shrinking them & the game they’re dealing onto a tiny device only detracts from the experience. Not to mention the fat-finger-fumbles that occur, particularly on phones. If more attention had been devoted to making live games more suitable for bigger devices than PC (live dealers on your 50 inch LCD!) mores the better I reckon.
Preferences aside, if you want to play live dealer games on our mobile, whether it be iPhone, iPad or Android device then you’ll be able to at many casinos now. Games may be accessed directly via casino mobile sites or in some cases via the App Store Apps (typically fro UK players only). Mobile offerings, particularly from the bigger developers are pretty extensive too, with most or all games offered via PC also playable on mobile. Don’t expect the video stream on mobile to be as smooth as play on your PC though, although no doubt this will change in time.
BL: Lets break it down by geographical regions. What characteristics of live dealer offerings are most important to the Asian gambler?
D: I don’t really feel qualified to answer this, but judging from the look/feel/functionality of the games offered by the major Asian market facing brands, important are:
1. Many baccarat dealers
2. Many baccarat variations
3. Many baccarat side bet options
4. Many different looking baccarat tables
5. Different baccarat deal speed options
6. Sexy baccarat UI features (big roadmaps, Player/Banker bet volume indicators etc)
7. Sexy, but not so interactive dealers. Dealer chat doesn’t seem to be a priority!
8. Background elevator music (thankfully they all let you turn it off as well)
9. Did I mention baccarat?
BL: Ha ha! So true, the Asians do love Baccarat. So what characteristics are most important to the Western gambler?
D: Little more qualified to opine here, but again the look/feel/functionality of the games offered by the big brands tells the story:
1. Game variety (there are other games beside baccarat…and besides roulette/blackjack for that matter)
2. Table numbers. This is blackjack-centric concern as a given table caters to a maximum of 7 players. But blackjack is a popular Western game, and we don’t want to wait for a seat!
3. Dealer interaction. Players do enjoy engaging in conversation with the dealers, and the dealers typically are very engaging!
BL: We know that Live Dealer is huge in Asia, what other geographical regions are showing a lot of interest in Live Dealer offerings?
D: Educated guess here, but I reckon most of Europe’s hooked, Canadian players are fans, Brits love it and American gamblers are playing even though they only have access to some of the more questionable offerings out there. As for the Australians…they’d bet on 2 flies crawling up a wall so were never going to be able to resist a beautiful dealer sitting at a roulette table inside their living room! Seriously though, it’s fair to say interest outside Asia is significant.
BL: It sounds like Live Dealer has grown into a global demand. Taking into consideration the global market, if you had to choose the best Live Dealer software available today, what would it be and why?
D: At the moment it’d be hard to go past Evolution Gaming. They always seem to be leading the charge when it comes to new developments (mobile, private tables, localised dealers, game range) and they also do the standard stuff very well (fast loading games, great video stream tolerant to slower connection speed, simple but feature rich UI, seemingly unlimited studio space allowing operators to roll out many tables).
But the best software for player A will be very different to player B due to personal preferences. If you want to be able to peek/squeeze cards playing live baccarat Evolution won’t be your favourite. They do tick a lot of boxes however, and unsurprisingly have been adopted by many of the big UK/EU brands.
BL: Lastly, what kind of opportunities are there for affiliates when it comes to Live Dealer?
D: Not as many as there were 5 years ago!
What was once a pretty quiet niche where it was easy to stand out in the crowd, is now a major vertical with lots of competition.
BL: Well I guess that answers that- good on you for getting involved at the right time. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us David, its been a pleasure.