Online gambling is a cutting-edge business. Advances in technology provide new opportunities for online casino operators, and operators’ visions drive innovation in a field characterized by transformation. The latest, biggest trend in iGaming, live dealer games, uses advances in technology to double back to the social roots of gaming.
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The Biggest Thing in Gaming
By this point, platform operators who don’t offer live dealer services are essentially showing their players the door. The world of online casinos has been irrevocably changed by the advent of live dealer games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, poker, and sic bo, which provide players the excitement of the live casino experience from anywhere in the world.
According to data from H2 Gaming Capital, the live dealer sector alone is worth $1.2 billion annually, and some sources have indicated that as much as 25% of their online casino revenue could be coming from live dealer games. As we’ll see later in this article, there is every reason to believe these numbers will be increasing in the future.
The rise of live dealer games has been aided by improvements in technology. Increasing mobile penetration, particularly in Asia, where live dealers are preferred to RNG-based casino games, has heightened demand for the product. Improvements in streaming and video quality have been met by increasing screen sizes on mobile phones, making it easier than ever for players to bet on the go. Also, players can often access multiple live games at the same time.
Players who enjoy casino games have limitless options when it comes to RNG-based games like online slots if they prefer (or require) the convenience of gambling over the internet. But players can get tired of sitting alone and playing slots. The origins of gaming are social - whatever the earliest form of gambling was, no one played it alone - and the internet is the most advanced socialization tool that’s ever existed.
A study by GSMA Intelligence found that by 2030, 72% of the world’s population would use the internet to socialize, compared to 53% today. This increasing rate of internet socialization indicates that solitary casino games will be less likely to meet the desires of a market increasingly looking for human interaction.
With live dealer games, not only can players participate in live casino games with a real dealer, but they can also chat with the dealer and sometimes with the other players. Live dealer games are inherently a very social experience, especially when compared to other forms of online gambling.
Appeal and Target Audience
Live dealer games offer a bridge between online and offline gaming. Some operators even enable remote players to “sit” at the same table as players in a brick-and-mortar casino. This is a huge advantage when it comes to the demographics it can appeal to.
Live dealer games offer a convenient solution for older generations of players who grew up playing casino games in a live environment. For traditionalists, live dealer games have an edge over casino games based on a random number generator (RNG) because they allow easy access to a familiar casino experience.
For younger generations, live dealer games offer an opportunity to cross the bridge in the other direction. Millennials who have grown up in a screen-based world are far less likely than previous generations to have played at a brick-and-mortar casino, but a live casino experience that has been digitized offers an opportunity for them to try something new in a format they’re used to.
Live dealer games can also dispel players’ skepticism. Live dealer games took off in Asia because while players at first mistrusted RNG-based games, the transparency of the live dealer format is considered trustworthy. Live dealer providers have studios all over the world, and Asia, particularly the Philippines, is a popular location.
Two ways forward are advances in technology and increasing diversity of games. Improvements in streaming and graphics quality can allow providers to offer more vivid gaming experiences, so as those technologies progress, live dealer games will improve along with them.
Live dealer studios have higher overhead costs than online slots, so where a platform can offer dozens or hundreds of slots, live dealer providers usually offer around a dozen or fewer live dealer games. But limitation is the mother of creativity. The highest-performing providers create their own opportunities to innovate. For example, one company specializing in live dealer games, Evolution Gaming, has made a name for itself by creating entirely new gaming experiences.
A Case Study in Innovation
In fact, by this point, it’s impossible to discuss the live dealer market without looking at Evolution Gaming, the Swedish live dealer game provider that’s been leading the market since its inception. As shown in the chart below, the company’s revenues speak for themselves. In 2013, the company’s revenue was just under EUR 50 million. By 2018, that number had increased by nearly EUR 200 million.
Evolution Gaming benefitted from having something of a head start when it comes to the modern live dealer sector. Founded in 2006, the company got in on the ground floor of a fledgling sector and has since soared to tremendous heights. But getting a good start doesn’t always translate to leading the pack during a long race. Evolution Gaming’s commitment to quality and legal compliance is without equal, but the thing that truly sets them apart is the way they’ve innovated the gambling sphere in a way no one has done before, online or not.
In addition to popular live dealer games like blackjack and roulette, Evolution Gaming offers a series of games based on board games and game shows, opening up new possibilities in the realm of gaming that extend beyond online versions of classic games. Live dealer games offer an opportunity for providers to design the future of gaming. Smart ones will take advantage of the opportunity, and savvy operators will make room in their platform for the biggest innovation in the world of gambling since the invention of cards and dice.