It would be wrong to say that live dealer casino games have merely become popular over the last several years. This sector has skyrocketed worldwide.
Because live games bring in billions in revenue to online gambling venues, industry analysts consider this sector one of the most significant drivers of online gambling. Not only that, but this niche offers the perfect blend of the online and land-based gambling experience.
Live gaming is quite an achievement, both in popularity and technological sophistication. To convey the latter point, here’s a more in-depth look at the tech behind live dealer games.
The Tech Behind Live Dealer Games: Crucial Components
Since live games rely on a combination of software and hardware, understanding the tech’s inner workings requires a detailed look into both. Let’s begin by exploring the software side before moving on to the physical requirements for live casino gaming.
There are several conditions that a live gaming operator must incorporate into its platform to ensure a top-end product. These conditions include:
- Sufficient connectivity
- Video compression
- Cloud computing
- IM software
Online gambling is a numbers game in more ways than one. A fast and reliable connection is essential because it allows more players to use the platform simultaneously. A higher number of players translates to higher revenue, which is a fundamental requirement. In other words, live dealer casino games wouldn’t exist without being financially sustainable.
Luckily, more than a billion individuals currently have access to broadband internet due to continuous upgrades and investment in networking infrastructure. Among the most significant breakthroughs for the tech behind live dealer games is 5G. The rise from tens to hundreds of megabits per second breaks players free from the confines of fixed-line connections and gain access to sites such as TheVipCasinos.com
Accessing live dealer casino games requires a significant amount of bandwidth (often well over 2mbps), but increasingly more people can cope with these requirements thanks to constantly increasing internet speeds.
Casino operators tend to know their audience well. Regardless of connection speed (which is fundamental), it makes no sense to expect punters to continuously cope with non-stop, high-quality video streaming. At least some video compression is a must. In such cases, not even “unlimited” internet packages are of much use. Most of them typically include some form of cap on the maximum usable data.
The tech behind live dealer games has made it possible to solve this problem by incorporating video compression. This process is complex, but it basically involves transforming a data-intensive source video into a more palpable, lightweight form. However, much of the original image quality is still present.
Regardless, achieving this goal effectively is almost impossible without sacrifices. If performed well, though, video compression makes all the difference for both the video providers and the end-user.
The benefit for the player also includes cheaper service. Higher-quality video includes more data, which means it consumes more bandwidth. Such videos are costlier for providers to get to customers. So, if you’ve ever wondered why Netflix charges more for 4K movies, that’s why.
Higher video quality is less problematic for overhead in a live dealer casino context. But despite the relatively modest investment, video compression pays off tremendously for operators looking to target mobile users. Providing a consistently excellent experience is where video compression comes in, though it still requires proper optimization. A streaming service may lack the quality users expect even with a somewhat flaky Wi-Fi connection.
Cloud technology is the pièce de résistance of the tech behind live dealer games.
The reason for celebrating this technological advancement is straightforward. Back in the day, providers usually had no choice but to run their own hardware in-house for numerous reasons. Examples included site hosting, accommodating user info, protecting accounts, processing payments, and delivering infrastructure that high-bandwidth streaming required.
Then came the popularization of cloud computing, which made it possible to offload nearly all of these responsibilities. The cloud market today features several large tech companies competing for dominance. These companies run comprehensive data centers, which countless clients of all shapes and sizes leverage for their varying needs.
Cloud computing has one advantage that sets it apart from all analogous technologies: scalability. Providers can choose to offer as much or as little bandwidth and power to users in real-time, quickly adapting to shifting demand. Consequently, casinos can offer the convenience of playing from home and the thrill of live gaming with no hiccups thanks to this flexible technology.
On the flip side, thanks to this technology, casino operators benefit from instant global reach. Because there is no need for significant upfront costs, operators can more efficiently host and distribute live dealer streaming in different regions. In fact, one of the most important contributors to the online gambling industry’s dizzying growth are technologies like cloud computing.
IM (Instant Message) Software
Although it may not look as essential to the inexperienced eye, an IM system is a vital piece of the tech behind live dealer games. This system is the quintessential communication channel between players and dealers.
If you’ve ever played a live casino game, you’re familiar with the built-in Live Chat feature. This feature lets you casually chat with other players or communicate game-related questions to the dealer. Without IM, quick communication would be far less feasible.
Integrated game consoles also add to live dealer game functionality. The console enables players to take advantage of touch and digital technology to communicate with the game.
Nowadays, you’ll struggle to find a live dealer casino game that doesn’t offer an IM system—such is the importance of this feature.
There’s plenty to be said about a setup that successfully brings classics like poker and roulette to players’ homes. When they first appeared, live dealer games had the difficult task of conveying the prestigious atmosphere of brick-and-mortar casinos to an online setting. However, operators overcame that challenge with the help of clever technology. Here’s an overview of live dealer casino game hardware:
- Premium web cameras
- GCU (Game Control Unit)
- Lighting equipment
- OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology.
Live casino gaming requires many technological components, but starting with monitors is the logical first step. The various involved components allow dealers to track players’ bets and their game decisions in real-time. Similarly, monitors also enable dealers to note which players have joined the action and at which point in time.
Keeping track of players’ activity facilitates game flow because the dealers can prompt playing decisions. For example, because of the way live games work, patrons typically have a limited amount of time to play out their hands or place bets. Monitors let dealers notice and react to anything slowing down the pace of a given round. As another example, monitors help dealers notice and react to players who break table rules or are rude.
Premium Web Cameras
Web cameras are kind of a mirror image of the abovementioned tech behind live dealer games, monitors. On the one hand, monitors allow dealers to keep track of and control game dynamics. On the other hand, high-end web cameras allow players to explore the live-action’s inner workings from various angles.
Having multiple cameras covering each live game is standard, mostly because of their utility. If a player joins a live roulette game, they can switch between different views. For instance, one camera shows the spinning wheel closeup, another provides a wide shot of the dealer hosting the game, and yet another offers more angles.
There are even examples of games incorporating more than a dozen cameras, such as Live Baccarat Squeeze by Evolution. This title features more than 15 different high-resolution cameras to provide an immersive experience for players. Consequently, you can see all of the subtle nuances in this game as if you were physically at the table.
GCU (Game Control Unit)
The Game Control Unit is an essential tech behind live dealer games. Developers use GCU technology to encode gaming-related information. Consequently, they provide adequate visual support to live dealers to ensure smooth and lag-free gameplay.
The encoding process involves using a special scanner or sensor. This sensor translates winning numbers on the roulette wheel and the dealt cards into a digital format. After translating this information, the software processes the data and reflects it in the UI (User Interface).
As a result, players can see the playing cards and winning numbers on their screens and receive automatic notifications from the software on whether their wagers have won or lost.
The primary reason lighting is a crucial component of the tech behind live dealer games is due to OCR technology (more about it in a bit). For now, keep in mind that this technology relies on having good enough lighting to accurately identify items and translate information about them.
Live dealer studios require special lighting on their floors, and Evolution Gaming’s studio in Latvia illustrates the perfect example of why. This developer (one of the leading names in the live dealer game industry) initially used halogen lighting for its Latvian live gaming studio. However, the studio worked 24/7, and the lighting simply couldn’t keep up.
The solution came in the form of replacing the existing approach with professional-level lighting equipment from Photon Beard. This supplier specializes in lighting equipment used on movie sets and in television studios. Evolution Gaming chose fluorescent lighting and installed Photon Beard Highlight 110 and Photon Beard Highlight 220 lamp heads after weeks of thorough research. This lighting helped Evolution Gaming gain recognition as a powerhouse and pioneer of live gaming platforms.
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Technology
The soul of every live dealer casino platform lies in optical character recognition. The origins of this tech behind live dealer games date back to the early 1990s and first found application in digitizing paper documents and newspapers. In the days before OCR, after weeks of thorough research, people needed to manually retype all textual information, which was time-consuming, inaccurate, and cumbersome.
OCR all but revolutionized this drudgery. It made quick work of converting analog information into a digital format. Digitizing everything from imagery to hand-written and printed text became effortless. However, the application of OCR in live casino gaming is fascinating.
This technology’s primary goal is to capture everything in a live gaming studio and stream it to players’ devices in real-time. In the past, live gaming had to rely on RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. Casinos incorporated special cards with miniature computer chips or barcodes. The system would scan each card that left the shoe or deck and translate its suit and denomination into digital data. Consequently, the information would then appear on players’ devices in real-time.
However, with the onset of OCR, the antiquated RFID systems were no longer necessary. Even though you might come across a live gaming studio still relying on RFID, most have transitioned to Optical Character Recognition tech. OCR offers numerous benefits, including higher efficiency, greater convenience, and overall better accuracy.
AR & VR: The Future Of Live Casino Gaming
The online gambling industry is among the most innovative sectors today. Just as live gaming is a step up from virtual gaming, AR/VR technologies represent another step forward into the future. Augmented and virtual reality maximize the immersion levels of live games. Thanks to these technologies, players can interact with live dealers in new ways and enjoy a fresh avenue for enjoying these games.
Thanks to AR and VR, punters can become an actual part of live games and talk live with other players. More and more casinos are also starting to adopt these options for both live and RNG-powered games. New table games, slot titles, and virtual sports are slowly but surely finding their way into the AR/VR realm, spearheaded by live casino titles. As all relevant trends suggest, the tech behind live dealer games will continue to evolve. The future for this industry will push what we ever thought was possible for gambling online.