Live casino experiences have exploded in popularity in recent years, with a whole host of online gambling operators expanding to include this type of service alongside the usual mix of all-digital slots and table games.
Unless you have participated in a live casino before, you might be baffled by the concept. So what is involved and how is any of this achieved?
As the name suggests, a live casino is the portion of an online gambling site where players can place wagers on games like roulette, poker and blackjack in real time, with a flesh-and-blood croupier in charge of proceedings.
The idea is to replicate what it feels like to play these games in a real casino, but without the need to actually visit a land-based location in person. While you may not need to doll yourself up in the best casino outfits you can imagine, the lack of a dress code and the convenience of being able to play at home or on the go are seen as major selling points by many players.
In fact, using a live casino service is a great way to familiarise yourself with what to expect when you do eventually go to a bricks and mortar venue, without having to feel intimidated or embarrassed because you are a newcomer. It delivers the best of both worlds, and also lets you chat and hang out with other players in much the same way.
There are a number of clever systems at work behind the scenes to bring live casinos to life, and while there are differences in these from operator to operator, it is safe to assume that a combination of cloud-powered hosting and streaming is at play at the back end.
Meanwhile the player-facing aspects of the experience will either be provided via browser-based interfaces, or through standalone mobile applications which can be downloaded for iOS and Android devices.
Of course because the games are carried out on the fly by the human croupiers who are being captured by camera and audio equipment, it is also worth noting that some more traditional casino technologies are also often involved. This can include automated card shuffling machines, which are designed to ensure complete randomness whenever new hands are played and new packs are opened.
As already mentioned, live casinos provide a plethora of gambling experiences, streamed direct to players and affording them the ability to interact directly so that they can place bets and ideally win big as a result of their decisions.
Because real croupiers and physical gaming surfaces and devices are in use, this gives an added level of authenticity to proceedings. Also, because everything happens in real time, it is not always as frenetic or synthetic as the purely digital representations of these classic casino games.
The other perk to playing with real hosts is that there is room for banter, direct engagement and a more personal feel that involves players rather than making it seem like they are just gambling against an indifferent random number generator.
Some operators have expanded their live casino offerings beyond standard table games to include live quiz shows, some of which replicate popular game shows pulled straight from the TV. It is this diversity of options that further bolsters the appeal of live casino games, although players are of course free to pick and choose from the games and experiences that online casino sites have to offer.
There are a few things to think about when deciding how to enjoy a live casino; do you fire up your PC or laptop to play, or do you settle down on the sofa with your smartphone instead? Do you stick with just one operator, or do you compare all of the sites and services available, taking advantage of the new player sign up bonuses that are offered?
Clearly you can fit your live casino play around your own lifestyle and preferences, and it is also sensible to set a budget and only wager what you can afford to lose so that you can keep having fun without this becoming a potentially problematic pastime.