The Evolution of Live Dealer Games
The first online casino was launched in the mid-1990s, offering players a handful of classic casino games they could play over the internet. It was an evolutionary step in the world of gambling, bringing casino games within the reach of those who couldn’t access the ‘real thing’. But they were very different from what the experienced gamblers at the time were used to - they lacked the personal touch of a land-based casino.
Today, all these problems are solved thanks to providers like live dealer juggernaut Evolution or smaller studios like Sexy Gaming. But the road to here was long and hard.
The idea of live dealer casino games emerged even before online casinos became mainstream. Of course, technology at the time didn’t allow for live dealer games to be turned into reality: broadband internet was merely planned, and video streaming - the backbone of live casinos - was barely invented yet. But the idea stuck - and why wouldn’t it? Replicating the experience of a real-life casino through the internet had potential, as time showed us since then.
As the technology evolved, and broadband became ‘broader’, the time came for the first true live casino game to be launched sometime in the mid-2000s.
The first notable step forward in the evolution of live dealer games came from a company unironically named Evolution Gaming. Founded in 2006, its goal was to start a revolution in the European casino industry by offering a selection of live dealer games - classic casino games like roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, with the image of the dealers, streamed directly to the players’ computers. It took a while for the technology to take root but the results soon started to show: by 2010, Evolution pocketed the first industry awards in its history (that was soon followed by many others).
And then, a couple of years later, the first live dealer games were launched on smartphones, making the industry complete.
The service that was once considered little more than novelty has now become an integral part of the iGaming industry - and one that’s very lucrative as well. According to the statistics published by H2 Gaming Capital, live dealer games were responsible for about 10% of the online casino industry’s revenues in the early 2010s - but today, their market share has grown fast - by more than 750% (!) since 2012. And its market share has also grown fast - in the last eight years, it has become responsible for about a third of the entire industry’s revenues.
The popularity of live dealer games has, of course, led to the emergence of game providers as well. Most big names in the RNG gaming business have their own live dealer studios - Playtech, Pragmatic Play, Microgaming, and NetEnt, to name just a few - and there are independent providers like the above-mentioned Sexy Gaming and EA Casino that are focused on more restricted markets.