If you have ever thought that it would be a fun experience to work in a casino by trying your hand as a croupier, it might surprise you as to how the role has changed. If you were to look at a job site in Canada, for example, most of the croupier jobs these days are for companies like Playtech, Evolution, and NetEnt. These aren’t casino brands, of course: they are software developers, looking to recruit dealers and staff for their online live casino platforms.
It’s around seven or eight years now since the rollout of live dealer games at online casinos began in earnest, effectively creating a new online gaming sector. But that sector has had an interesting trajectory in terms of its popularity and influence. And, it’s only now, in 2021, that we really see the direction of that trajectory. In plain English, live dealer games are slowly transforming the online casino industry and could eventually make it unrecognizable from traditional casinos.
To illustrate what we mean, you have to go back to the early days of internet casinos. In the mid-90s, companies like Microgaming pioneered online casino games. The main goal, as you might expect, was to create an experience that replicated what you would find in a casino resort. Rudimentary games were developed at first, of course. But like the video game industry, things got more sophisticated. Looking at the selection of online casino games today compared to the mid-90s is like comparing Atari games with releases for the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
Live dealer games have surged in popularity
But the high point of this ambition of replicating what you find in a real casino was realized in the mid-2010s when live dealer games became a reality. If you visit the live dealer platform at Casino.com in Canada, you can see the end result. Live games – blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat – played with real dealers, with all the action streamed in an HD feed. Everything is the same as the casino – cards, tables, roulette wheels – the only difference is that the dealer is in a studio, and you are wherever your smartphone or laptop is.
And yet, at Casino.com and other sites, there is a sense of what comes next. If the goal to replicate what was found in Las Vegas had been realized, perhaps then the next step is to offer live games that are not found in the casino resorts. You can see that now. Games like Playtech’s Quantum Roulette Live fuse the old-world charm of roulette with technology, supercharging winning potential and making, perhaps, a more exciting game. Playtech is also experimenting with Live Slots, meaning you play the games as a community with a live host calling the action.
New games resemble television shows
Other developers, like Evolution, have decided to develop games – Monopoly Live, Deal or No Deal Live – that resemble television game shows. As you might expect, this gives the games a communal atmosphere. There is talk of the next step being linked to VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) gaming. That’s still at the development stage, but it does not seem to be far away.
But, above all, the sense of community is probably key here. If we go back to what we said earlier – how software developers tried to replicate what you would find in a real casino resort. One thing that the resorts could always count on was the social element. An online casino might offer the perfect replica of a casino game, but it was difficult to mimic the social side. It’s one reason why the traditional casinos haven’t been judged to be digitally disrupted like other industries.
But that digital disruption feels like it is coming. Now you can log on to a live casino, chat with friends and make new ones. VR/AR will eventually ensure that you are ‘in the room’, at least virtually. Most online casino platforms have changed dramatically over the years, but with live dealer technology, it seems the pace of that change is picking up again.