Live casinos in the US
Since its inception in the mid-1990s, the online gambling industry has gone through many evolutions. Everything started as a mere representation of the physical classic slots. Over the years, providers have adapted to changes and blessed us with video slots, Megaways slots, table games, and whatnot!
One of the most important additions to the iGaming industry was the live casinos. It was the only missing piece of the puzzle that was stopping online casinos to become a viable alternative to land-based casinos.
The purpose of our guide today is to pay homage to the invention of live casinos. We’re also going to learn about its history, how it works, and what games you can play in the US in a live setting.
Top Online Casinos with Best Live casinos in the US
If you already know what live casinos are and how they work, you may want to get started with the gaming right away. For you, we’ve listed the best live casino online in the US. Even if you don’t know what a live casino is, you can read our guide from top to bottom and come back to this list.
What is a Live Casino?
It’s right in the name. It’s a casino that’s live. Now, many of you may disagree because the land-based casinos across the US are also “live”. But in the iGaming niche, we refer to them as land-based casinos.
A live casino is usually a dedicated section at an online casino website. In some cases, the operators feature online live games in the same library as the other games. Every operator may be slightly different but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to identify the live games.
All you have to look for is the title and the thumbnail on the game. If it’s a live title, you’re very much likely to see a croupier on the thumbnail. Also, the title often contains the term “live”.
Upon entering the game, you’ll come across a land-based casino-like atmosphere where the croupier or the dealer is waiting for you with a proper setup. If it’s live casino poker you’re playing, you’ll see an oval-shaped poker table.
Unless otherwise stated, the rules of live dealer casino games are exactly like their physical counterparts. Some operators may have variable house edges for different titles but the skeleton is always going to be the same.
The bottom line is, a live casino is designed to give you the thrill of a casino floor through your screen. You get to interact with the dealer and the players, plus you can see everything unfold before your eyes.
History of Live Casinos
Although we know live casinos as a relatively new addition to the online casinos, the concept was conceived right after the first true online casino came out in 1996. The early attempts of launching a live casino date back to 3 years after the inception of the first casino.
The only reason it didn’t get picked up by the entire world is the hardware limitations. Consumers didn’t have powerful enough computers to run the live games smoothly. Also, the internet was terrible back then. It was just not feasible at that time for live games to be a mainstream offering at online casinos.
The next significant attempt was made during 2006 and 2007, just when the first iPhone was about to launch. Now we know that it was a history-altering event for the smartphone culture.
During that time, the live games required the use of RFID. It’s the same technology used in your credit cards, a Radio Frequency Identification chip. Casino operators had to get special cards and tables to operate the games.
It may have been a good solution for that time but it limited the scope for operators by a lot. At the same time, there was no way for players to determine whether the games are fair or not because everything is controlled by the studio.
It all changed when OCR came into the picture and that’s when live casinos started to make some buzz for real.
How Do Live Casinos Work?: A Hands-on Approach to OCR
The change ultimately came through the hands of Evolution Gaming. To this date, Evolution is the forerunner in the live casino industry. The company figured out the formula to success before anyone else. It resulted in a series of international awards for Evolution by 2010.
Since then, it started an adventure to expand the business by buying out the competition. As of now, it even owns NetEnt. If you’re familiar, NetEnt is one of the biggest names in the RNG gaming sector. By 2017, Evolution launched the first-ever live game slow for online casinos, Dream Catcher.
It has all been possible thanks to OCR. It stands for Optical Character Recognition. Sounds complicated? Because It is! Let’s see how it works.
How Does the OCR Work?
If you’ve played any live casino game before, you may know what’s going on. When you launch the game, you join a lobby where a human dealer greets you. You get the game control unit or the console on your screen. This is where you give your inputs depending on what it is.
The dealer has a screen in front of him/her where they can see your input and act accordingly. There are also 1 or more cameras pointed at the dealer and the table to live stream the entire event.
Now, there is a misconception that live casino games are simply streaming from a game studio. That’s not true. Combining the camera feed and your inputs on the game control unit requires OCR.
The primary job of OCR is to translate the details of the game into data and feed it to the game controller. The card values or the ball position or anything else relevant to the games is picked up by the OCR while the game controller calculates the results and the payouts.
That’s how you can instantly see on your screen whether you’ve won or not. You also see how much you’ve won while the funds are credited to your real money account right away. It’s a seamless process that takes less than 1 second to complete!
The incorporation of OCR has been the biggest innovation in the online casino industry since the video slots. It surely increased the complexity of the operations and associated costs. But there’s no way to deny that OCR is what made live casinos feasible for the world.
RNG casino vs Live Casino – The Differences
The majority of games in an online casino US are RNG-based. RNG simply stands for Random Number Generator. It’s an algorithm that generates an infinite string of numbers completely randomly. Depending on what game it is, the numbers are translated into game outcomes.
All slot games and software-driven table games have RNGs in the backend. If it’s incorporated and regulated properly, there’s no way even for the developers to predict the game outcome.
Live casino games, on the other hand, don’t use RNG. Why? Because they don’t need to. The dealer is right there to do everything.
Let’s take a holistic approach to the differences between RNG games and live casino games.
|RNG Games||Live Casino Games|
|The RNG acts as the dealer for a game. It shuffles everything in the backend.||A human is in charge of the dealings.|
|Both slots and table games utilize RNG in the backend.||Live dealer games don’t need RNG but need OCR.|
|RNG is unpredictable. It’s a mathematical algorithm for random number generation.||Human actions are always random. Shuffling the cards or spinning the roulette wheel is equivalent to the RNG.|
|RNG games are massive in number.||Live games are relatively limited.|
|Players can opt-in for RNG games any time they want.||To play live games, players need an active lobby with enough seats first.|
Advantages of Live Casino over RNG casino
The advantages of playing live casino games are many. The interesting thing is, different players will find different aspects fascinating regarding the games. What we can do is list the ones we think are the most feasible.
Casino Atmosphere at Your Fingertips
This is undoubtedly the biggest advantage of live casinos. You get a similar feeling of a casino floor without setting foot outside your comfort zone. Most modern live casinos are fully equipped with HD cameras and full-system audio. If you can focus enough on the screen, you’ll certainly feel like you’re at a land-based casino.
Better Sense of Fairness
Fairness is always a concern with the gambling industry, both online and offline. At brick-and-mortar casinos, players get to see what the dealers are doing and even check the cards or chips if they want.
Before live casinos, there was no way for players to check the fairness of a game other than trusting the operator’s word for it. With the inception of live casinos, you can now see what’s going on with the game, see the dealer shuffling the cards before your eyes, and even see other croupiers coming in and reloading the deck.
It all results in a better sense of security and reliability on the casino’s part.
Games like Poker or Blackjack often require interaction with the dealer or with other players. For RNG titles, it’s impossible because there are no humans other than you in the game. Live casinos change that.
Thanks to the live chat feature incorporated in most game control units, you can interact with the dealer in real-time.
Higher Table Limits
Most RNG titles, whether slots or table games have a low table limit. It has been an ongoing complaint from the high rollers because they couldn’t play to their heart’s content. A live casino gives you the opportunity to bet big and win big, just like a real casino floor.
Moreover, some of the tables have no limits at all. You may have to be a VIP or show a massive bankroll to become eligible for those tables. Once you do, you can take your live gambling experience to a whole new level.
No Dress Code
Most land-based casinos impose a bare minimum in terms of dress code. It might include a wide variety of conditions such as no sandals and no shorts. Some high-end operators only allow format attire.
On the contrary, live dealer casinos are completely free of these restrictions. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. It doesn’t matter even if you’re wearing nothing. You can just join the lobby and start playing as long as your account has real money funds.
Mobile Live casino
You already know that the biggest innovation in the live casino space took place when the first smartphones were about to come out. In the last decade or so, smartphones have come a long way. As of now, there’s not a single thing that you can’t do on your smartphone that you can do on a desktop computer.
Obviously enough, live casinos have been optimized for smartphones during this time. Almost all modern operators allow the players to play from their mobile devices. HTML5 has played a major role in this transition. HMTL5 allows a website to adapt to any screen size dynamically.
Many operators also offer dedicated apps for download. They’re widely available for both Android and iOS devices. In the US, however, iOS has a higher market share when compared to Android. So, you’re more likely to come across iOS casinos than Android casinos.
The good thing about mobile live casinos is that you don’t have to compromise on any front. As long as you have a stable internet connection and a standard-spec smartphone, you can play any live dealer game you want without any hiccups.
Challenges of Live Casino Developers
The live casinos we know today seem flawless. It’s because they are. But the journey is not smooth by any means. There are several challenges live dealer studios have to deal with on the regular to keep things going.
In this section, let’s try to shed some light on behind the scenes of the live casino industry.
As there is no software to test in the backend, live casinos sometimes face problems from the regulatory authorities. In the US, all live casinos are licensed within the state. If the state government is not happy with the operators, they may invoke the license.
So, studios are always trying to come up with innovative ways to prove regulatory compliance.
This is a massive challenge for operators and game developers equally. When compared to the RNG games, the operational costs of a live casino are massive. It requires a physical space with state-of-the-art technology like high-end cameras, game controllers, OCR, API integration tools, and whatnot!
Apart from the technical costs, there are croupier salaries. To run a proper live casino, professional dealers are required. The whole recruitment and maintaining the standard is a big challenge.
The actual itinerary of games that can be adapted for a live setting is very limited. For example, you can’t create live dealer slot games even if you want to. The games just don’t work that way.
So, studios are always trying to come up with variations in an industry where versatility is a challenge. This is why you see many variations of roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker, craps, etc. games over and over.
Incorporating all the cutting-edge technology is only half the equation. The other half goes into maintaining things. It requires substantial resources to handle all of these advanced pieces of equipment.
Despite all the efforts, the operators and the studios face many technical issues on a daily. Needless to say, it’s still a massive challenge for the live dealer industry.
The Best Games that are Available in Live Variant
It would be unfair if we discuss so much about live casinos and not discuss a few live dealer games. As you already know, the actual library of games is not very broad. So, let’s try to cover as many as we can in this section.
How to Choose the Right Live Casino Provider
When it comes to live casinos, you don’t have many options. You’ll mostly see Evolution Games, NetEnt, Luckystreak, Vivo Gaming, and Microgaming titles. These are all top names in the software provider space and they’re dominating the live casino industry.
Here are a few pointers you should be aware of when choosing a live dealer game.
Ensure that the operator you’re choosing is licensed in your state. Because playing at offshore gambling sites is strictly illegal across the US. You also need to ensure that the game provider is licensed to operate in the US.
Just like any other industry, you’ll find good-quality games and bad-quality games. Always try to stick to name-brand providers such as Evolution Gaming, NetEnt, or Luckystreak. These providers have proved their capability in terms of live streaming and the technical soundness of the games.
Most mainstream operators are aware of compatibility. As long as you stick to the live casino online brands we’ve recommended on this page, you shouldn’t face any compatibility issues.
To be on the safe side, you should always check the device compatibility for the games. You should find the information on the casino website or on the software provider’s website.
Last but not least, it’s the dealers who can ultimately make or break your live casino experience. You’re more likely to come across incompetent dealers if you opt for lesser-known providers or operators.