Live casino games have never been more popular. It’,s no surprise really, with real dealers you get about as close to a real life casino experience as you possibly can from the comfort of your own home. In this article, you’,ll find all the important details about the different operators, such as which games are available, how many tables they provide, betting limits and whether they are available to play on mobile devices. I’,ll also present interesting details about the game providers and the quality of their streaming. With all this info, you’,ll be able to see easily which are the best live casinos. Live casino online.
There are big differences in the live dealer games from operator to operator. I have taken all factors into consideration and ranked the top 10 available for UK players. In my opinion, William Hill is a clear winner. With games from 2 different providers, they are able to provide the widest choice of games, tables and betting limits, with top quality video streaming.
What Makes Live Casino Games so Appealing?
Clearly, there are many advantages of playing at online casinos compared to land based casinos, but the main draw back has to be the limited atmosphere. Yet with live dealer games, the thrill and excitement of playing in a real casino is realised. Forget travelling, when you can see the games come alive from your own home. You can play your favourite games and get an authentic casino experience any time day or night.
Choosing to play a live dealer game is very different than opting for a regular online casino game. You are made to feel welcome the second you join a table, even being greeted by name in the majority of casinos. Plus that element of communication continues as you play. You can type away to the dealer and have them reply to you in person. Forget random number generators, these games have no need for them. Instead you can see the ball spin round the roulette wheel and land on a number, or see the cards physically shuffled and dealt. Although casino RNG’,s are thoroughly tested to prove their fairness, nothing is more reassuring than seeing the results play out in real time right before your very eyes.
All Available Games and their Characteristics
These casino games have come a long way in recent years. You can expect to find roulette, blackjack and baccarat at all live casinos, but some operators offer much more. Be this special variations of these games, or other exciting choices, such as Casino Hold’,em, Three Card Poker or Sic Bo. Let’,s take a closer look at the games on offer with real dealers, their characteristics, and which operators are the best for each choice.
Roulette – Many Special Versions and High Limits
As one of the most popular casino games, it comes as no surprise that this game is well represented at live casinos. Not only are there plenty of tables, you can also find some really interesting variations of the game. Take for example Evolution Gaming’,s Immersive Roulette. This unique and high quality game brings players up close and personal with the action. Using multiple camera angles, you can watch the ball as it spins and see a slow motion close up of the ball as it comes to rest on a number. Add to this the numerous angles of the pretty croupier, and you have a top notch experience. So much so that it won the prestigious title of “Game of the Year” at the 2014 EGR awards.
There are plenty of other exciting variations available. These include Auto/Slingshot Roulette, where the games play in high speed, without a dealer present. There’,s also Sports Roulette, where the knowledgable dealers talk about current sporting news and events whilst the games play out. You can also find unique variants which include side bets on symbols from classic slots machines, such as Ra Roulette and Lucky Lady Roulette, which feature at InterCasino. Roulette has by far the highest possible table limits of any live dealer game, and also the limits are much higher than in regular online casino games. Take for instance William Hill, where table limits reach a staggering £500K. At the other end of the spectrum though, bets can be placed on the smaller side, with minimum stakes of just 10p possible.
Blackjack – Plenty of Choice with the Much Loved Card Game
This is another very popular game, which makes up a large part of an operator’,s live game selection. Blackjack fans will know that many online casinos provide interesting versions like Blackjack Switch, Surrender and Pontoon. However, live versions of these games are not available. Instead, it is the classic version of the game which is played with real dealers. Yet there are side bets available at some casinos, offering an extra something to the game. For instance, at 888 Casino, extra bets can be placed on perfect pairs and 21+3, and, as with most other casinos, an insurance bet can also be made. Many operators also allow players to bet behind. Given that a maximum of 7 players can join a blackjack table at any time, this feature allows other players to place bets on another player’,s hand, meaning virtually any number of players can take part at any given time.
As with roulette, limits on live blackjack tables stretch much higher than in regular versions of the game. The highest I have found during my research is up to £10000 at both William Hill and 888 Casino. The minimum bet varies from operator to operator. Generally, this is around £1, but there are exceptions, with some accepting a minimum bet of £10, and others providing a low stakes bet of just 50p. One of the few blackjack variants is Blackjack Party, from Evolution Gaming. As well as providing a low stakes option, this variant features a party style atmosphere, thanks to the music and the entertaining dealer and hostess combination, who keep the fun happening.
Baccarat – A Timeless Classic with lots of Side Bets Available
As one of the classic three, you will find baccarat at pretty much all live casinos. However, with the game not being as popular as roulette and blackjack, generally you will find a smaller number of tables compared to the other 2 games. The only variant of baccarat which is played online is Punto Banco. In this variation, players play against the bank, rather than against other players. Many casinos provide a choice of side bets, including wagers on pairs, and big and small cards.
Unlike roulette and blackjack, the lowest bets that can be placed on baccarat are £1, with some casinos setting the minimum bet as high at £10. For those who like to play with high stakes, then there are plenty of options to place big wagers, with up to £10000 possible.
Casino Hold’,em – the Popular Poker Game Joins the Live Game Selection
As already mentioned, the three classic games, roulette, blackjack and baccarat are found at pretty much every live casino. Yet in recent years, the popular poker game, Casino Hold’,em has become a regular feature at more and more online casinos. This version of the game is a variant of Texas Hold’,em, with players competing against the dealer rather than each other. The live version does not differ from the regular version of the game, and an unlimited number of players can take part. Play starts by placing an ante bet, after which, 2 cards are each dealt to the player and the dealer (with the dealer’,s cards faced down) plus three community cards are placed on the table. At this point, you can call to continue playing or fold. To call, you need to place another bet, which is twice the ante bet. By folding, you will lose any money already bet. The dealer then continues to deal two more community cards, called “turn” and “river”. At this point the dealer reveals their cards, and the winner is determined.
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In addition to the ante bet, players have the option to place an AA bonus bet. This pays out if a pair of aces, or higher is dealt in the first 5 cards. The minimum payout for a winning side bet is 7:1, and can reach as high as 100:1, depending on the cards that are revealed. It’,s also interesting to know that you will collect the bonus payout, regardless of whether or not you win the game itself. Betting limits on the game vary depending on the operator, with minimum stakes anywhere between 50p and £10. There are also high limits available at some casinos, with maximum bets of up to £7500 possible.
Three Card Poker – a Recent Addition to the Live Game Collection
3 Card Poker is a relatively new card game, having only been invented in 1994. Currently, the game can only be found in a selection of live casinos provided by Evolution Gaming, such as 888 Casino, William Hill, Leo Vegas and Mr Green. Unlike other poker variants, which are played with 5 cards, each poker hand is made up of just 3 cards. What’,s more, there are no community cards, your 3 cards compete entirely with the dealer’,s 3 card hand. With the smaller number of cards per hand, the probabilities of making certain combinations differ from other poker games. So for example, in this game, three of a kind will beat a straight. Also, a three card straight beats a flush.
To play the game, you must first place an ante bet. You will then receive 3 cards, with the dealer’,s three cards dealt face down. At this point, you can choose to play, by placing another bet equivalent to your ante bet, or you can fold, losing any money already bet. The dealer will then reveal their cards and the hands are compared. The dealer must have a queen or higher in their hand to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, then your play bet is returned and the ante bet will pay 1:1. If the hands tie, then the ante and play bets are returned. If you have the better hand, then both the play and ante bet pay 1:1.
An ante bonus is paid when you place a play bet and get a straight flush, three of a kind or a straight on your three cards. There are also 2 bonus bets that can be placed before cards are dealt. The Pair Plus bonus bet will pay from 1:1 up to 100:1 for a pair or better in your 3 cards. The 6 Card Bonus pays out if you make a 5 card poker hand of three of a kind or better with a combination of your own cards and those of the dealer. Both the Pair Plus and the 6 Card Bonus side bets will pay out, regardless of whether you fold and the dealer wins the round.
Sic Bo – The only Dice Game Available with Real Dealers
There are few dice games available at online casinos, and even fewer with live dealers. In fact, the only dice game that is offered with a live dealer is Sic Bo. This game is played with 3 dice, and a board, on which you can place your bets. The board has a similar feel to roulette, as you can place various different bets, with differing payouts. Two of the most popular bets are small and big. Here players bet on the total sum of the 3 dice being either small (4 to 10) or big (11 to 17), with payouts of 1:1. Bets are also possible on the total sum of the dice, combinations of particular numbers and many more.
In order for the game to work with a live dealer, the 3 dice are held under a large glass dome. The dealer presses a button, which causes the base to vibrate strongly, forcing the dice to jump and spin through the air. After a few seconds, the dice come to rest, and any winning combinations are paid back to the player. If you fancy playing live Sic Bo, the choice is pretty limited. Currently, it is only available at selected Playtech casinos, such as Ladbrokes.
Good Selection of Games for Mobile Apps
Many players enjoy casino games on mobile devices, and the great news is that many operators have made their live dealer games available on their mobile apps as well. Thanks to fast internet connections and the modern technology incorporated into smart phones and tablets, games can even be streamed in the same high quality definition as playing on a PC. However, not all operators offer their game selection for mobile users, and even with those that do, the game choice can be limited. Yet as you can see from this table, there are some operators that provide a huge amount of choice and variety when it comes to playing live dealer games on their app.
You can learn more about the apps from the various operators in our dedicated mobile page. You will see how the overall game collections compare, not just live games. On the page, you can find out about the compatibility of the apps with different devices and operating systems.
Are there any Special Bonus Offers for Live Games?
Yes there are, however, they are not offered by all operators. There are several different types of live game bonuses. Some offer a match deposit bonus on your first deposit, and take the place of the regular welcome bonus. This type of offer is available at Betfair. There are also offers that allow you to earn a bonus, once you have deposited a certain amount and turned it over a set number of times on live games. This type of welcome deal is available at Ladbrokes and William Hill. A very rare occurrence is a free, no deposit required bonus which can be used to play live dealer games. However, we have arranged a special offer for new players at Betway casino to get this deal, in addition to a first deposit bonus. All the details about the special bonuses, including any conditions linked to them, can be found in the individual reviews for each casino. You can also find out more about the different types of casino bonuses in our dedicated bonus page.
An Overview of the Different Providers
It’,s useful to know that the casino operators do not develop and provide games themselves. Instead, they use the services of companies who specialise in the provision of online games with real dealers. The casinos select the games they wish to include in their selection, and incorporate these into their collection. Players use their usual casino account to access and play these games. The majority of casinos will use just one supplier for their live games, however there are exceptions to this rule. For example, at William Hill Casino, there are games provided by both Evolution Gaming and Playtech. Likewise, Mr Green uses NetEnt and Evolution Gaming to supply their live dealer games. When you compare 2 different casinos that use the same provider, you may find few differences in the games that they offer and the table limits that are available.
Therefore, in this next section, I will provide a closer look at the individual live game providers. They can vary greatly in terms of the games they offer and the betting options they provide. Also, each provider has their own special games and features that differentiate them from other providers. What’,s more, differences can be seen in the quality of the video streaming and also in the audio quality.
Evolution Gaming – The Market Leader
Since its foundation in 2006, Evolution Gaming has revolutionised the live dealer platform, and rightfully earned its place as the market leader in live game provision. This has been recognised by the industry, having recently been awarded the EGR Best Live Casino Software Provider of the Year award, for the 6th year in a row. Their innovative and exciting games have not been overlooked either, with their unique Immersive Roulette receiving the title of Best Game of the Year at the 2014 EGR Awards.
As regards the game selection, they provide a huge choice. Of course, there are the classics, roulette, blackjack and baccarat, with numerous tables and various limits available. In addition, they also offer Casino Hold’,em and the relatively new Three Card Poker. English is of course the predominant language used in games, but they also provide games in German, Swedish, Italian and Russian. In addition to the award winning Immersive Roulette, other special variants include Sports Roulette, London Roulette and Auto Roulette. Unlike many other live game providers, they have also developed a unique blackjack variant in Blackjack Party. This game offers low stakes and a unique party atmosphere, with both a dealer and a co host keeping the atmosphere buzzing. With the option to bet behind, this enables an unlimited number of players to join in games.
The technical infrastructure used by the provider is also cutting edge. Significant investment has been made into equipment that provides the ultimate experience. Here you’,ll find the highest quality audio and video streaming, unmatched by any other providers. You can also see automatic shuffling machines supporting the dealer. This enables game play to continue quickly and seamlessly, with no waiting around between games for manual shuffling to take place. A scanner is used in all card games, so that all cards dealt are tracked and recorded in the system. What’,s more, the provider has developed games to work seamlessly across multiple platforms, so whether games are played on a PC or mobile device, the experience will still be top class.
Evolution Gaming’,s main studio is based in Riga, Latvia. Here, there are over 100 live game tables, providing shared games and unique bespoke games to individual operators. The other studio in Portomaso, Malta was opened in 2014. It is home to the native speaking tables such as London, Venezia, Svensk and Deutches Roulette. The company also have offices based in London and Sweden. Communication between the dealers and players is always in English, with the exception of the specific tables provided in alternative languages. The dealers are very friendly and professional, creating a top quality casino experience. You will find games provided by Evolution Gaming at casinos such as 888 and Leo Vegas.
The iGaming Software Giant Playtech
Another major supplier of live casino games is Playtech. The company is one of the biggest providers of casino software, and they provide the games for many reputable casinos, such as Ladbrokes, Betfair and William Hill. Playtech live dealer games can be found exclusively at operators whose regular casino software is provided by the company.
Like Evolution Gaming, the game selection is extensive, with many tables for roulette, blackjack and baccarat. The supplier also provides Casino Hold’,em for the poker fans, and it is one of the few providers who offer the dice game Sic Bo. There are a wide variety of table limits to suit all types of players. In fact, many tables offer the option to select the limits you want to play with before you join the game. The number of special variants of games is rather limited, compared to Evolution Gaming. Where as their rival offers the innovative Immersive Roulette and Blackjack Party, these types of variants are sadly missing from the game selection. Yet they do provide London, Speed and Slingshot Auto roulette, offering some variety. As for Blackjack, they provide Unlimited tables, where players can bet behind, meaning that even when the 7 seats of the table are taken, players can still take part in the game by betting on the hand of another player.
Cutting edge technology is used to provide high quality video and audio, with HD streaming used to provide the best experience. Whilst it is true that the standard is not quite as high as that of Evolution Gaming, there are only marginal differences. You will see that automatic card shufflers are used, so that no time is wasted between games, particularly important in games such as Casino Hold’,em, where a new deck is used in each game. Card scanners are used to identify any cards that are dealt, enabling the casino to track results clearly and accurately. Table limits are clearly displayed on all tables, and there is even an option to tip the dealer, as you can in a land based casino.
The company streams their games from studios in Riga, Latvia and Manila, in the Philippines. As such, you will find a mix of European and Asian dealers across their games. English is the default language used, yet games are provided with native speaking dealers from Italy and Spain, exclusively available in those countries. Playtech have made a large number of their games available on mobile devices, so players can experience high quality streaming across multiple platforms. On our site, you can find dedicated reviews for Ladbrokes, William Hill, Sky Vegas and Betfair, who all have live games provided by Playtech.
Microgaming – Home of the Playboy Dealers
Another major player is Micrograming. They are the oldest iGaming Supplier, having been established way back in the 90’,s. They delved into live dealer games later, and have now been providing those games for 7 years. Like Playtech, they provide software to numerous well known companies, and their live games are found exclusively in casinos that use their software. What sets them apart from their rivals are their exclusive Playboy Bunny Dealers.
Unfortunately, despite this unique selling point, the game selection is somewhat limited. Of course, the classic games roulette, blackjack and baccarat are provided, but the only other addition to the collection is Casino Hold’,em at certain casinos. As for the number of tables available, these are also very limited. Rarely will you see a choice of more than 3 tables per game at any of the casinos. When it comes to table limits, these are also very restricted compared to those offered by Evolution Gaming and Playtech. Usually there are a choice of 3 betting limits to choose from per table, but these do not reach particularly high. You will not find any unique and interesting variants of the classic games either, with the only exception being those games where the dealers are dressed as Playboy Bunnies. As for betting options, whilst there are plenty to choose from in baccarat games, there is very little choice in blackjack. There are no side bets like 21+3 or Perfect Pairs, as you’,d find with other providers.
In terms of the technical infrastructure, the provider also falls short compared to the competition. The video streaming is not quite as high quality, but the major difference lies in the lighting. Unfortunately the tables and the dealers are usually quite poorly lit, and the over all picture is rather dark. Whilst the sound quality is very clear, there is an annoying beep every time a card is scanned. You can also hear this beeping constantly in the background from the other tables. Like the other providers, automatic shuffling machines are used to keep time needed between games to a minimum.
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Microgaming have studios in Canada, Argentina and the Philippines. Yet the only available language is English. A distinct difference to other live providers is the lack of the chat facility. Players are welcomed to the table by name, but there is no option to chat to the dealer during the games. So although the dealers are professional and friendly, this can lead to a rather dull experience compared to playing games with Playtech or Evolution Gaming. Overall, Microgaming falls behind the market leaders in several areas. However, the exclusive Playboy Bunny dealers are undoubtedly a huge selling point. You can find the Playboy dealers at Betway and 32 Red.
NetEntertainment – Quality over Quantity
Like Playtech and Micrograming, NetEntertainment, or NetEnt provide regular games and software to casinos, in addition to live dealer games. Their live games are usually found at casinos who have NetEnt games within their normal game portfolio, but there are also some exceptions, where other operators use the provider solely for their live dealer games. The emphasis is clearly placed on quality with this provider. The HD video streaming and audio quality are top class, and the overall presentation is neat, clear and appealing. Yet sacrifices are made when it comes to quantity. The provider has a very limited game selection, providing a small number of roulette and blackjack tables only. Whilst table limits are pretty low for blackjack, the opposite is true for roulette, with bets up to £75k available. You can play NetEnt live games at Mr Green.
An Overview of Other Live Casino Providers
So you now know about the 4 major players in this area, but there are other smaller and less well known operators. Most notably is Vuetec. They were the first provider of live casino games, having started to stream games directly from land based casinos back in 2002. However, back then, the technology was limited, and far from the high quality available nowadays. The games were streamed using just 1 video camera, which was mounted on the wall or ceiling, so’,s not to interfere with the games taking place. Therefore, the view was restricted, and certainly lacked the numerous camera angles that players can choose from in many online casinos currently. Of course, the 1 camera at a distance also meant that there was no interaction between the player and the dealer. Vuetec still provide live casino games streamed directly from land based casinos. As technology has improved, so has the quality of the video streaming. Yet there are still distinct drawbacks to this type of live gaming experience, compared to that you get from a purpose built live dealer studio. However, one advantage the company has is that due to their limited operating costs, free play mode is available. An option lacking in online live dealer games.
Other providers include Extreme Live Gaming (InterCasino), Ho Gaming, Smart Live Gaming, Xpro Gaming, Medialive Casino and Global Gaming Labs (GGL). However, I have found the quality and/or the game selection of these providers lacking, which explains why they are not found as often on the UK market as the 4 listed above.
More Details about the Video Streams
As we’,ve seen in this article, live dealer games have come a long way since they were first launched. Back then, games were filmed in land based casinos, using just one camera which meant unclear views of the games, no interaction with the dealer and difficulties seeing the cards. The introduction of purpose built gaming studios has helped to overcome these technical challenges. Now players have the option to chat with the dealers and there are multiple camera angles, offering clear views of the games in play. Yet as for the cards themselves, further steps have been taken to give players the best view possible. This includes measures such as increasing the size of the cards, or making the indices larger. There is never any doubt of the card value and suit with these actions in place.
Video quality is usually available in HD nowadays, but of course this depends on the speed of the internet connection. Most providers allow you the option to change the quality of the streaming in the settings option. So if you have a slow interconnection, and you find games are stuttering and jumping, you can adjust the video quality, to try and counteract the issue.
A final consideration regarding live game streaming is the volume of data used. This will be of little importance to many players, but it can have big implications for mobile users. If you do not have unlimited data allowance on your mobile plan, then you could run up big bills, given that the data consumption can exceed several hundred megabytes per hour. The best advice here would be to use a WIFI connection to play live games.
Conclusion: Some Major Differences to be Seen Between Providers
As we have seen, huge improvements have been made to live dealer games over the years. They are incredibly popular with players, and they are available at the majority of online casinos. However, there are some significant differences between different operators. This mostly depends on the provider of the games, with Evolution Gaming and Playtech leading the way in terms of the quality and quantity of games, and also with regards to the wide betting limits available across their tables. With this is mind, it comes as no surprise the best live dealer games are found at William Hill. The operator combines games from the 2 leading providers, enabling them to provide a massive variety of games, with interesting variants and the widest range of betting limits.
Hot on its heels is 888 Casino. With a massive choice of games from the market leader Evolution Gaming, I have no hesitation in highly recommending the operator. Leo Vegas also has a top live game selection from this provider. Mr Green is also definitely worth a look. Not only do they offer games from the multi award winning provider, they also include a selection of top quality NetEnt games. Playtech live casinos also deserve a mention, with Ladbrokes, Betfair and Sky Vegas boasting a great selection of games in high quality definition. As for casinos with Microgaming software, the game selection and the quality of streaming does fall behind the 2 leading suppliers somewhat. But thanks to the unique Playboy dealers, it’,s worth checking out Betway or 32Red at least once.