What Goes Into the Best Live Dealer Casinos?
The live dealer casino market is growing larger and more competitive every year; as such, there are dozens of live dealer casino sites in Canada nowadays that are all vying for players’ attention and money. And we at Inside Casino have done the legwork to clear the air and help you find the best live casino sites to play at.
Being a combination of what land-based and online casino platforms have to offer, the best online casinos in Canada are expected to provide their players with gaming experiences that make them feel like they are playing the real thing. And as one of the leading providers of live dealer casino reviews, we at Inside Casino carefully assess and scrutinize every casino operator based on the following criteria:
Live Casino Games
When it comes to the top live dealer casinos in Canada, there are few things that are more significant than the live dealer games that are offered by the casinos. When it comes to choosing which live casinos games to play, players want a great deal of freedom of choice, and as a result, they expect a great deal of variety in both the types of games available and the types of dealers available to them. The latter is particularly essential because Canadian players, particularly those from Quebec, have French as their primary language and will prefer to play live dealer games where they can converse and interact with dealers who are familiar with their native language.
Of course, the best live casino game providers are on top of the game in this respect and many ensure that their live games are carried at a high standard of quality for people to actually want to play them. The fact that the live dealers themselves are responsible for the majority, if not all, of their games’ activities, such as shuffled decks, dealing, and placing stake markers, means that live dealers must possess a high level of expertise and discipline in order to maintain the game’s seamless flow.
Live Casino On Your Mobile Device
Because of the continued growth of the mobile casino website market in the past decade or so, the best live dealer casinos should also have the ability to cater to this new and massive wave of online gamblers who can play from just about anywhere through their mobile devices. While they have no control over the actual internet connections that ultimately dictate the quality of the gaming experience, live casino game providers and casino operators are expected to at least provide Canadian players with live dealer mobile games, so you can sit at the same casino tables as other players who are playing from their desktop computer.
Live Casino Bonuses
A live casino bonus is now a standard feature of the best live casinos nowadays, and no Canadian player will ever turn down a generous bonus offer. In the same manner that traditional online casinos do, the finest live dealer casinos should offer appealing welcome bonuses and other valuable perks to lure players away from their competition.
Live Casino Player Security
But of course, security in any live casino should never stop at the financial aspect. Live dealer casinos are both legally and morally expected to comply with regulations and requirements on the handling of their players’ real money casino accounts. All transactions between the live casino and the player must be done with utmost transparency, honesty, and fairness, especially considering the general level of mistrust that players do and should hold against an establishment that is designed from the ground up to profit off of the players’ losses.
Live Casino Support
A growing priority among live dealer casino players recently is the availability of a solid customer support network that is able to answer queries and resolve issues about their casino account quickly and effectively. Players expect the live casino’s support to be available as often as that of their games, which is one of the reasons why 24/7 customer support is now an essential expectation. Online casino customer support must also be ready and able to respond through a wide range of communication channels besides simply email and phone, especially as the rise of mobile players are making chat apps and social media platforms more and more popular.
Should you Play Live Dealer Casino Games?
Live dealer casinos, which combine the greatest features of both land-based casinos and internet casinos into a single easy online platform, are the near-ideal middle ground for players who desire the live casino experience without the hassles of having to travel to a physical location.
But like many things in life, there is something to be said about having choices, and live dealer casino sites in particular are not the end-all, be-all of the online casino experience. As such, we’ve compiled a few of the benefits and drawbacks of playing at live dealer casinos in the list below to help you decide whether or not live dealer games are really the best option for you.
Benefits of Live Dealer Casinos
Unmatched convenience: Thanks to advancements in live dealer casino platforms over the years, many new online casino players can now take part in their favorite table and slot games any time, anywhere. These live casino games, which are available on a variety of live casino websites, have provided players with the opportunity to feel the true thrill of gambling from the comfort of their own homes, which is incredibly convenient for gamblers who just don’t have the time to travel to a land-based casino.
In addition to this, numerous online gambling websites have branched out into the development of mobile-friendly applications. This means that you no longer have to worry about travelling because you can have the real live casino experience right at your fingertips. Many users appreciate the fact that they may play these table games whenever they choose, which is a huge draw for them.
Full player control: One of the secondary perks of being able to play live dealer games because you have complete control over all parts of your gambling activity. When you play games at a land-based casino, you are only limited by your wallet and your own personal self-control. However, you can have betting limits set up for your casino account to automatically curb your spending if you ever feel that you are not confident in your ability to stick to your bankroll.
Ease of use: Many table games like poker, baccarat, and roulette tend to have long lists of etiquette that all players are expected to already know when they pull up to play live games at a land-based casino. Things like hand signals, callouts, avoiding speaking at the poker table, and many other unspoken rules are part of the casino table game culture, which can be very unforgiving to players who are not yet very good at these games.
When you play games at live casinos, though, all of this is thrown out the window, as everything the players need to actually interact with the game is all laid out in buttons that are accessible and easy to understand. In fact, most if not all of these titles will even come with instructions right inside the app when you play live dealer games, letting new players learn these timeless casino games at a much more relaxed pace.
Social Interaction: One of the main turnoffs for Canadian online casino players is the generally heavy restrictions on, if not the outright lack of social interaction on a typical digital casino game. Even if they are participating in a game with other actual individuals, such as poker or baccarat, the game software typically does not provide many opportunities for them to interact with the other people who are participating in the game with them.
Live dealer games overcome this problem by allowing all players to effectively sit in a virtual room with a real dealer, as opposed to traditional casino games. A significant advantage of this live dealer configuration is that it provides players with a far more authentic gaming experience because it allows and even encourages them to communicate with the dealer and other players in the virtual room through text or voice chat.
Realistic visuals: It’s pretty safe to say that live dealer casino games have the most realistic visuals of any online casino game on the market right now. After all, not even the most advanced graphical rendering techniques in a video game can perfectly capture the details of real dealers manipulating real chips, cards, and dice on real tables.
Bonuses and perks: One of the most interesting perks of live dealer games is that, even though there is a physical dealer in the actual game, players are still playing at an online casino. And unlike their land-based counterparts, live dealer casino sites offer a variety of casino bonuses and perks that you can’t get from any physical venue. We will go into these bonuses in more detail later in this article.
Wide betting range: Live dealer casino games are typically offered at highly variable betting ranges, with some providers letting you play live games for less than a dollar per wager. On the other side of the spectrum, though, high roller types can take part in certain live dealer blackjack games like the Exclusive Blackjack title from Evolution that lets you wager up to 20,000 Canadian dollars on a single hand.
Drawbacks of Live Dealer Casinos
Internet bandwidth requirements: Because of the large amount of data transfer required to interact with a live video feed of a casino game being played on a physical table, live dealer online casino games necessitate a much more reliable internet connection in order for players to have the best possible experience while participating. This is unfortunately not viable for many Canadian players who may not have access to an internet or mobile data connection with the bandwidth and stability required to participate in live casino games, which can be a significant barrier. By contrast, while online slot games and other traditional online casino games require players’ devices to download game data once, they require only a minimal amount of data to sync their gaming interactions with the online casino servers that handle wins and losses.
Glitches and slowdowns: One of the consequences when you play live casino games on an insufficient internet connection is the possibility of experiencing glitches and slowdowns as you play. This can be especially frustrating as live dealer games tend to move at a pace similar to their real-world counterparts at land-based casinos; getting connection problems can cause chaos at live casinos and can completely sabotage your online gambling experience. You might end up losing your spot in the game or be unable to place a bet if your internet connection is experiencing buffering issues at the wrong time.
No physical perks: The fact that live dealer casino games are restricted to only online play means that Canadian players will not be able to take advantage of the same perks that they would enjoy in a traditional land-based casino setting. As an example, physical casino sites in Canada will typically include hotels, pubs, and restaurants where players can relax at the end of a gaming session.
Ambience and environment: At the end of the day, we should never forget that, even with the most high-definition streaming tech and full social interaction features, no live casino game will ever truly recreate the visceral feeling of actually playing the table game at a land-based casino. The lights, sounds, textures, and smells of playing at a physical venue is something that not even our most advanced technology can replicate yet. This is arguably the biggest sacrifice a player needs to make when choosing between playing live dealer games or actually going to a physical casino—the choice between convenience and authenticity.
How Live Casinos Work
When you look at it at face value, live casino games really aren’t all that different from the land-based casino games that they are supposed to emulate. But like a lot of things involving live broadcasts, there is a lot more complex work going on behind the scenes to bring these live dealer online casino games to your desktop or mobile device.
Much of the spotlight on live casino games is focused on the dealers that work the tables that you play on—and in fact, they are the main selling point of live dealer casino games in the first place. The reason for is that many online casino players believe that having a real dealer gives the game its unmistakable feeling of being in a local casino, in addition to making the game feel more fair and trustworthy since a real person is holding the cards instead of a random number generator that the players can’t see.
(For the record, a vast majority of online casino games at the best online casinos are designed to be perfectly fair as well, so this is more a matter of personal preference than anything else.)
So to clear the air on this topic, yes, all of the dealers and croupiers running all the games when you play live casino games are all real dealers—in fact, most of the time the dealer at the table is actually a professional live dealer from a real land-based casino.
More recently, though, live casino operators have taken to hiring attractive male and female models to give live games a bit more visual interest for the players. However, don’t let their looks fool you, as they are every bit as skilled as land-based croupiers at handling live casino games at full speed thanks to stringent training and years of experience.
Cameras & Studios
Owing to the players at live dealer casino games being located from just about anywhere in the world, the dealers and equipment needed to run live dealer games are all housed in studios. If you are already familiar with how studios in news and TV shows work, the setup used to stream live dealer games isn’t all that different.
The live casino game table is set up in front of a series of cameras that point at specific areas of the table. Using a standard live blackjack game as an example, the live casino studio will usually have at least two cameras—one for a general front view and another for a top-down view of the table—but studios often add extra cameras to give players more viewing options as they play.
A more recent trend in the live dealer casino space is setting up studios inside real land-based casinos. This was done as a way to provide more of the immersion that players constantly look for in their live dealer games. And based on the implementations of this setup that we have seen and reviewed, we can say that the brick-and-mortar studio has been quite successful.
However, that’s not to say that live dealer games are strictly restricted to pursuing the goal of maximum realism. With the use of green screens and other TV and movie tech, live dealer games can be taken to locales that are entirely beyond the limits of traditional casino table games. These green screen live dealer casino games could let Canadian punters play on a pirate ship, a medieval castle, or even a futuristic alien bar in the middle of outer space—the possibilities are effectively endless.
So where are these live dealer studios located? This decision is mostly up to the discretion of the software provider (more on this later), but generally speaking, live casino studios are typically found in Malta, Latvia, the UK, and the Philippines.
Of course, cameras only serve as the eyes of the gamblers that play live dealer games; behind all of the things that players see through their live dealer game apps are the myriad of equipment that translate the actions of the real dealer on a physical table to the data that is sent to the players to inform them of all the changes that happen throughout the game.
Arguably the most important of these are the sensors that are littered throughout the table in all live dealer games. In the case of card games such as poker, baccarat, and blackjack, there are typically two approaches that are used to detect what cards are coming into and out of play. The first and more popular method is the use of an OCR, or optical character recognition system. This uses a set of cameras located underneath the table that look at the numbers or letters of the cards as they pass through designated windows set on the table surface. The dealer drags these cards over the windows, allowing the OCR system to read the character and automatically update the system with the new information.
Alternatively, some live casino software developers have looked into the use of an RFID tracker system for the cards. This system embeds the cards with RFID chips that contain data about the cards. All the croupiers need to do is to pass the cards over a scanner to automatically register this data into the live dealer game system.
In the case of live roulette games, sensors are embedded directly into each of the spaces of the roulette wheel, which automatically detects when and where the roulette ball lands. This allows the system to automatically detect and process winnings, freeing up the dealer’s tasks to focus on placing bet markers and spinning the roulette wheel.
The last piece of the puzzle for live dealer games is the casino software that transfers data back and forth between the players and the studio that is hosting the game. All of this data is processed by a device called a GCU, or Game Control Unit. The GECU is essentially a computer that runs a digital version of the live game being played, tracking all of the bets and actions placed by players as well as all of the card, dice, or roulette wheel data collected from the table. By processing all of this data in the GCU’s virtual copy of the live dealer game, it is able to send out the appropriate data to the players in near-real-time.
On the players’ end of the live dealer game is the game app that has the interface that players use to place bets and make actions in response to the events in the game. This user interface displays the live video feed of the live casino game through one of the studio’s available camera angles. Settings in the game app give players the option to cycle through these camera views to fit their preferences.
The game app will also lay out all of the possible actions the players can do on their turn through a series of buttons or touch elements on the screen, which is then sent back to the GCU and displayed to the live dealer through a series of monitors. Depending on the software developer, the live casino game app may also have voice and text chat windows available to allow players to chat with the dealer and the other players, simulating the social aspect of land-based casinos.
Live Casino Software Providers
Much of what makes live dealer casinos work in the first place can be attributed to the developers who create, run, and maintain the underlying software of these live casino games. Contrary to what most people might assume at first glance, most live dealer games aren’t directly owned by the live dealer casino sites themselves; instead, they are hosted on these live casinos after the operators rent them out from the software providers. Below, we’ve made a short list of the most notable live dealer casino software providers in the industry today.
This Swedish casino software provider is arguably the most prolific and successful developer for live dealer casinos. With over 500 live dealer tables running 150 live games being hosted by dozens of live casino websites from studios in 8 separate locations around the world, Evolution Gaming casinos currently lead the pack with cutting-edge technology and innovative live games that take the poker and other casino games players love and giving them a new spin.
Microgaming casinos are widely considered to be the founding fathers of the online casino, with the company’s claim to fame being them releasing the world’s first online casino in the late 1990s. Since then, they are currently one of the industry’s titans with one of the largest portfolios of slot games and other casino titles. Their live casino division is not quite as prolific, but still stands up to much of the competition in the world of live dealer casinos thanks to their advanced combination of graphics and live streaming.
Playtech is a software provider based on the Isle of Man that is best known for their highly sophisticated software solutions for both regular and live dealer casinos. Playtech casinos have an array of live dealer games are especially popular in Canada and Asia thanks to their strategically-located live dealer games studios that specifically target these markets.
Extreme Live Gaming
This relatively recent entrant to the live casino industry broke out onto the scene with their unique approach of broadcasting live dealer games set in the backdrops of real-world luxury casinos as opposed to the usual setup of building out a new studio exclusively for this purpose. Although the Extreme Live Gaming portfolio of games is quite small compared to its competitors, Canadian players quickly latched on to the idea of playing live dealer games at a live-streamed version of an actual high-end casino.
Live Casino Games
Thanks to all of the technologies that work behind the scenes to make them possible, live dealer casino games are now the best way to get the authentic experience of playing a traditional casino table game over the Internet. With each passing year, software providers for live casino sites continue to innovate with new ways to experience these timeless table classics, as well as building new games from the ground up specifically to work well in the live casino paradigm. Below are just some of the many games you can take part in at Canada’s best live casinos.
Unlike the standard setup of poker that puts you and your bankroll up against other players, live online poker put each player against the dealer instead. Take a look below for basic overviews of some of the most popular variants of live dealer poker.
Live Casino Hold’Em
This is a fast-paced variation of the standard Texas Hold’Em Poker in which the player competes against the dealer to see who can put up the higher valued five-card hand possible. Unlike the traditional variant, the player only has one hand playing against the dealer that all participating players then separately bet on.
As with standard Hold’em, the pot is won by the player who has the best five-card poker hand. After putting an ante and a possible extra bet, players and the dealer each get two hole cards, with the dealer receiving three. The flop is followed by dealing out three community cards that are shared by all hands. The dealer then lays a wager on the outcome of the game.
At this point, players have the option to fold and forfeit any bets they have placed, or they can call the bet and view the last two community cards dealt to them. The winner is determined by the best hand. Even if the dealer does not have a qualifying hand, such as a pair of fours or greater, all players who remain in the game will win regardless of their own hands.
Live Caribbean Stud Poker
Live Caribbean Stud Poker takes many of the traits that make poker such a popular game and adds a few fascinating twists of its own to produce a live dealer casino classic.
Each participant at the table, as well as the dealer, is given a hand of five playing cards. And since the dealer must have an ace and a king in order to qualify, players do not need to be poker experts in order to participate in the excitement at our tables.
Players are required to place an Ante wager, which is then played against the dealer. After that, all of the participants at the table, as well as the dealer, are given five cards apiece. The cards handed to the players are dealt face up, while the cards given to the dealer are dealt face down, with the exception of the dealer’s last card, which is dealt face up. The player has the option to fold or raise, and the greatest five-card poker hand possible for each player is utilized to decide the winner of the game.
Live Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker
Live Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker offers all of the thrills and spills of the popular card game to the Live Casino environment. With a Bonus bet as well as a Progressive Jackpot side bet, you may compete against our live dealers for the chance to become the next big winner.
The goal of this game, like its poker cousin, is to construct the highest value five-card hand possible utilizing a combination of your two hole cards and the five community cards dealt to you.
Both you and the dealer put an ante bet to get the game started, and you will have three more opportunities to place bets before the showdown takes place. You win if your hand is better than the dealer. If the result is a draw, the stakes are returned to the players. In addition, if the dealer beats your hand, you forfeit your ante as well as any additional bets (except bonus bets) you have made.
Before your hole cards are dealt in each game round, you have the option to put an extra Bonus wager to increase your chances of winning. Depending on the hole card combinations you get – for example, a pair – you will be paid out at odds ranging between 3:1 and 1,000:1. Bonus bets are paid out regardless of whether you win, tie, or lose the hand you are betting on.
Blackjack is a casino classic and an easy-to-learn card game where the right strategy can actually make players turn a profit with good enough execution. With Live Blackjack, you can experience the thrills and spills of casino gambling from the comfort of your own home by sitting opposite a live dealer and playing against them. Below are three of the most popular live blackjack variants you can find at live online casinos.
Live Classic Blackjack
Classic blackjack games, have actual dealers dealing in real time and up to seven boxes per table, may be found on the internet. Eight 52-card decks are utilized, which are kept together in a shoe and reshuffled on a regular basis (as opposed to our regular Blackjack tables, where cards are reshuffled after every hand).
You will be paid out at odds of 3:2 if you manage to get a blackjack with your first two cards, while ‘Insurance’ bets (available if the dealer presents an ace as an upcard) pay 2:1 if the dealer also manages to get a blackjack. You have the option to double down on any two-card hand and split pairings once for a total of two hands. Split aces are dealt just one card on each of their two hands.
Additional bets are also available, including the opportunity to ‘bet behind’ any seat on the table – either while you are waiting for an open seat or if you just want to get in on the action while you are waiting.
Live Free Bet Blackjack
This variant of blackjack expands the ruleset of the original game of blackjack, allowing players to place special bets in certain circumstances. As with normal Live Blackjack, the Live Dealer will mix eight 52-card decks together before dealing a pair of cards to the player face-up and a pair of cards to himself or herself, one face-up and one face-down, in the same manner as with regular Live Blackjack.
Afterwards, the game proceeds in the same manner as a standard Live Blackjack hand, with an added feature of the chance to put free Double Down or Split bets on chosen cards. The ‘Six Card Charlie’ rule is also applicable here, which immediately counts a win if your hand has six cards with a combined total of 21 or less.
Live Infinite Blackjack
When playing Live Infinite Blackjack, players may sit at a table with a limitless number of seats, enabling any number of people to sit down and play at the same time without having to wait for a seat to become available.
All players are handed the identical hand, and they each have the option to play that hand any way they see fit, just like they would in traditional Blackjack. With the use of both real-life, physical cards and computer-generated cards, various players may make distinct judgments at different stages of the hand.
The majority of the regulations for Live Infinite Blackjack are the same as those for conventional Live Blackjack games. First and foremost, participants must place their wagers and any optional Side Bets they choose to participate in. After dealing two face-up cards to each player, the dealer then deals one face-down card to their own hand, followed by two more cards face-up to the rest of the players. Players may choose whether to hit or stand on that hand, and any winnings are paid out in the same way as they would be in a traditional blackjack game.
Baccarat is one of the most renowned casino card games in the world, and it’s played in the VIP areas of genuine casinos throughout the globe, from Monte Carlo to London and Las Vegas, and it’s also featured in espionage thrillers and action movies, where secret agents and supervillains play it.
Live online baccarat is an easy game to learn and play, and it requires little skill. Players and the dealer each get a two-card hand, with the goal of the game being to get as near to 9 as possible. The Banker is the person who deals the cards. 10s and image cards are worth zero points, aces are for one point, and the rest of the cards are worth their respective amounts.
A third card may be chosen if the sum of the first two cards is higher than the total of the first two cards. Players may put wagers on either the Player or the Banker to win, or on a tie between the two teams. Additional side bets are offered, with the Player Pair and Banker Pair being the two options open to a player.
Roulette is one of the most appropriate games for which to make a live casino version because of the game’s very simple gameplay, which puts much of the focus on the visual and aesthetic feel. For this reason, live roulette game developers have quite a bit of leeway in coming up with new variations of the original game.
Lightning Roulette is played on a normal roulette wheel with 37 pockets numbered from 0 to 36, as opposed to the European wheel with 38 pockets. After all of the players’ bets have been put, the random number generator generates a number of ‘lucky numbers,’ with the value of each fortunate number being determined by the player who placed the wager.
Each game round contains one to five lucky numbers, with each fortunate number paying off from 50 times the stake to a maximum of 500 times the wager! Please keep in mind that those payments are for Straight Up bets on that particular number. Straight-up bets that are not multiplied will pay out at the regular rate of 29X. In addition to basic roulette bets such as Splits and Corners, Red/Black and Dozens, all additional bets are paid out at the same rate as normal roulette.
Live Quantum Roulette provides you all of the thrill and anticipation of Live Roulette, but with a fantastic twist: you have the chance to win up to 500x your wager on each and every spin. Live Quantum Roulette is played on a standard Live Roulette wheel, which contains 37 pockets, including a single zero, and is 36 inches in diameter.
Immediately after you have made your bets, Quantum Multipliers are produced at random and applied to the table. These are reward multipliers on Straight Up bet wins that increase the value of the payment above and above the standard 35:1 payout. There may be as many as five of these multipliers in a single gaming round.
Each will multiply Straight Up bet winnings on the corresponding number or numbers by a factor ranging from 50x to 500x your original bet amount. Aside from that, Quantum Boost and Quantum Leap events are possible, which may increase the multiplier value by 50 times (for example, from 100x to 150x), as well as doubling and tripling the multiplier.
Find the Best Live Dealer Casinos at InsideCasino
Live dealer casinos are the future of online gambling as we know it. As the culmination of decades of advancements in technology, the best live dealer casinos in Canada showcase gaming experiences that are as good, if not even better than that of your favourite local casino.
Be sure to stay tuned to InsideCasino, where we keep a growing list of casino reviews to help you find the best live dealer casinos and games in Canada.
Live Casino FAQ
What is a live dealer casino?
A live dealer casino is an online casino site that offers games that involve the use of real tables and dealers that are streamed to online players from around the world who interact with the game through an app on their desktop or mobile device.
Are live dealer games rigged?
As long as you stick to reputable operators and software providers, live dealer casinos are not rigged. The best live dealer casinos are typically licensed under an internationally-recognized gambling regulator like the MGA or the GBGA, which thoroughly assess and audit every live casino for fair play and good service.
Are live dealers real?
Yes, all live dealers at live dealer casinos are real people. Just as in a physical casino, live dealers are professionally-trained croupiers with years of experience managing the processes of their table games.
Are live dealer casinos legal in Canada?
Yes, playing at live dealer casinos, like most online casino sites, perfectly legal for players in Canada. However, players must always remember to maintain the typical precautions when playing on offshore sites and only stick to the best and most reputable operators.
Legally speaking, the only major restrictions when it comes to live dealer online casinos are only applied to the actual operators, as establishing an online casino within Canada often requires a lengthy and complicated application process that has resulted in most casino operators preferring to set up their headquarters offshore. The only exception to this is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, a gambling regulator in a specific region in Canada with relatively relaxed gambling laws.