Live casino is one of the newest and most exciting ways to play online casino games. It’s been around for a few years now, but technological advances mean that it is constantly reinventing itself. What started as a couple of games with live casino dealers has grown to become an entirely new way to play. There are now hundreds of titles to choose from amongst different software developers, all creating their own take on live dealer games.
On this page, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about live casino, how it started and where it is today. Then, we will look into exactly how the technology works, and what goes on behind the scene. Finally, we will demonstrate our stringent assessment criteria and outline the very best live casinos in Ireland. Keep reading to find out more!
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The History of Live Casinos
One of the first live casinos was actually launched in the late 90s, so it’s not exactly a new concept. The issue back then, though, was dial-up internet and sub-standard operating systems. It’s hard to imagine playing your favourite live casino games without broadband and on Windows 98, right? It was slow, frustrating, and far from a great casino experience.
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With the launch of broadband in the early 2000s, there was an opportunity for live casinos to become what they were designed to be. By this point, the entire concept of an online casino had been around for over five years, so the industry had found its feet. Established brands used what they’d learned so far and combined it with new technology to develop top live casinos as we know them today.
Fast-forward to 2022, and live casino games online dominate the market. You can’t visit your favourite casino site without being offered its selection of live dealer games, and they are drawing in higher player numbers than ever before. As player numbers increase, the live casino platform continues to be a priority for casino brands and software developers. This means that we can expect even bigger and better developments in the near future.
What is Live Casino and How it Works
When you launch a live casino game, it loads in a split second, and you can begin playing. This makes it easy to forget all of the work going on in the background to make live dealer games a reality. To us, it’s the click of a button. To the software companies, it is a complex operation that involves people and technology to work together and make it look effortless.
In a nutshell, a live casino, or live dealer casino, involves playing with real dealers. This looks and feels almost identical to the experience of actually visiting a casino and sitting at a table. It’s not just the dealer that is real, but the table, the cards, the roulette wheel, and all other equipment. The only thing ‘virtual’ about it is that you’re not actually there. There is a lot of clever technology involved, including:
- Game Control Unit
- Optical Camera Recognition
- Casino equipment
Check out what each component is and how it works below.
Live Casino Cameras
The cameras are what connect the player to the live dealer and the game environment. It’s usually placed directly in front of the dealer but angled to see the table. There are often multiple cameras, one used for the dealer when a round isn’t in play and another that zooms in on the outcomes in particular games.
For example, in Live Roulette, the camera angle will change to directly above the roulette wheel for better visibility. It will then pan back to the dealer while bets are being placed. This is the same for most live dealer games.
Game Control Unit (GCU)
The Game Control Unit is the heart and soul of live casinos, and without it, the entire platform wouldn’t be possible. A small but powerful GCU device is attached to each table, discreetly placed so that players can’t see it. It is the direct link from the dealer to the player and vice versa.
The GCU has sensors that decode the video broadcast and relay the information back to the software provider and, ultimately, the player. It knows which cards have been dealt and which is the winning roulette number in a split second. This is then processed through the gaming platform, and the result is displayed to the player on the other end.
The technology is also a great help to the dealer. They have a screen to look at as a visual aid. It outlines player numbers, bets placed and gaming decisions like hitting or standing in live Blackjack. This little box makes the whole thing happen.
Optical Camera Recognition (OCR)
Optical Camera Recognition works hand-in-hand with the GCU. It is technology that brings everything together. The OCR reads the cards and transmits the information back to players in a digital format, displaying the outcome of each hand or spin in real-time. It also recognises the size of your stake and calculates your winnings. Everything that is happening on the table is displayed for the player only with the help of OCR technology.
The casino equipment has to meet the standards of that in land-based casinos. Properly weighted roulette wheels and professional packs of cards are just some examples. This equipment is the same as what you will see at any casino but with a few hidden pieces of tech. For example, the GCU is attached to the table, and the playing cards often have chips in them for the OCR to calculate outcomes quicker.
Servers and Streams
All of the previous components make the live dealer casino function, but it wouldn’t leave the room without the help of a powerful server. Streaming a high definition feed with so much data isn’t easy work, and it needs to be done reliably and safely. These servers and streams are how the feed reaches the end-user and are usually powered by the gaming provider.
Criteria We Follow to Review Live Casinos
We use specific assessment criteria to review live casinos in Ireland. What makes a good casino or slot site isn’t necessarily the same as what makes a great live casino. A live casino online needs to tick several boxes before we recommend it to our readers. Here is an overview of some of that criteria:
- Safety and Licensing – The first and most important thing we look at is whether or not a live casino has a license. If it doesn’t, we go no further. We only recommend licensed casinos as it’s the only way to ensure player safety. These licenses can be issued in Malta, The UK, or Curacao. We check the license number and run it through a database to check that it’s still valid and there are no sanctions or suspensions. We also take a look at the onsite safety, such as payment encryption and SSL status. A live dealer casino should take every measure possible to protect its players.
- Live Online Casino Games – A brand needs a large selection of casino games to be given the best live casino title. Most casinos have a couple, but a dedicated live casino site should have hundreds, including the most popular titles. Of course, we all like to shake things up a little, so if you fancy trying something different, there are plenty of other options. Each casino will also have a great selection of slots, jackpots, instant wins and RNG casino games.
- Live Casino Bonuses – Many standard casino bonuses will exclude the live casino platform or place unfair wagering weighting on it. That’s why we look for bonuses that are specifically designed to be used on live casinos. For example, a deposit match is a great option, and we wouldn’t settle for less than 100% on a first deposit offer. A good example would be 100% up to €100 or above. You may also be given free live casino credits, a reload bonus or free spins on slots.
- Loyalty and Promotions – Welcome bonuses are a great way to get you through the door, but it’s good loyalty rewards that should encourage you to stay. Every live casino will do loyalty and VIP slightly different, but cashback on losses is an incredibly popular option with live players. This is a weekly sum of money calculated as a certain percentage of your losses back as cash; think of it as insurance. If not cashback, other rewards could include free spins or additional deposit bonuses.
- Deposits and Withdrawals – There should be plenty of payment methods available. This should include traditional ways to pay like Visa and Mastercard and more modern methods like e-wallets. Deposits should be instant, and withdrawals should be processed and paid out as quickly as possible. Even when we are satisfied that all of these boxes have been ticked, do we recommend a brand.
- Live Casino Experience – Players love live casino because it brings the thrills and spills of the casino straight to their screen. The gambling experience plays a massive part in whether or not a player enjoys themselves. Of course, wins and losses are essential, but if a player enjoys the entire website, platform and live casino experience, they’re more likely to return. We ensure that the whole experience from start to finish is as good as it could be, from fast-loading games to a well-designed website and friendly dealers.
- Customer Support – Technology doesn’t always work as it should, and sometimes you might need help. Whether this is to ask how something works, report an error, discuss your account, or anything else, a helpful team should always be available. We look at the opening hours and method of contact for customer support, and we test the helpfulness and professionalism of the agents.
How to Sign Up at a Live Casino
All you have to do is check out the brands on our list of the best live casinos and take your pick. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get started
- Choose your favourite casino from the list
- Click ‘visit’ to go to the casino website
- Click ‘create an account’ and register your details
- Choose memorable but secure login details
- Verify your email address by clicking the link in your inbox
- How to Sign Up at a Live Casino
How to Play Live Casino Games
The actual process of playing a live casino game works similarly to an RNG (Random Number Generator) game. First, begin by choosing the game you want to play. You will then select your stake. Then, if it’s roulette, you will choose your numbers within the timeframe before betting closes.
Finally, if it’s blackjack, you will watch the hand unfold and decide whether or not you want to hit or stand. The instructions differ depending on the game type, but an information button is available that will provide a step-by-step outline of how to play.
These live casino games can now be enjoyed on most platforms and operating systems and provide the same great experience across both.
The Best Live Dealer Games
We all have our personal preferences and definition of which game is the best. Below, we have taken a look at some of the most popular live dealer games. Here are just some of the options that attract the highest player numbers:
Roulette has always been a crowd-pleaser, so when live casino roulette was developed, it was no surprise that it quickly became one of the most popular games to play. The rules and gameplay are the same as standard roulette; there is a wheel, a ball, and a table to place your bets. You can choose between European, American and French Roulette, depending on your personal preference. Roulette appeals to players with all budget sizes as you can select smaller stakes and still win up to 37 times your bet.
You can choose between betting on individual numbers or go for other markets like the famous red or black, or numbers within a specific range. All of this happens in real-time with an actual wheel and a dealer to interact with. You will then get to enjoy the thrill of seeing the wheel spin live and waiting for the outcome.
Blackjack is one of the oldest casino games out there and was one of the first to be adapted for live casino. The rules are simple; try to get to 21 or get closer than the dealer. There is some thought involved, and there are many different live online Blackjack strategies, but there’s no denying that a lot of it comes down to luck.
First, you will be dealt two cards, and then you will see one of the dealer’s cards. After that, you have to decide whether to hit or stand, depending on your cards and what cards you think the dealer could have.
Blackjack is a double or nothing game and so appeals to those with bigger pockets. Small stakes players would have to play live casino for hours and get very lucky to see their balance increase. Some side games are usually involved with live blackjack games and even new variations of the old classic like Speed Blackjack.
Players love Baccarat because it offers something different. There are three possible outcomes; the player wins, the banker wins, or a tie. Every player must decide whether to bet on the player or the banker’s hand; you win if you bet on the right one.
When all cards are revealed, the point totals of both hands are calculated. It’s one of the few games where aces and face cards are essentially worthless, each scoring 0.
Similarly to Blackjack and other card games, there are plenty of strategies for Baccarat. But it’s easy to play, and as long as you have luck on your side, you can win sizeable sums, but this will require sizeable stakes.
Live Poker is the ultimate way to play poker online. It’s a game that requires luck, skill, and a little bit of gut. Poker tournaments are aired on TV and attract millions of viewers, and the card game continues to grow in popularity. Live poker is no exception, with more players making the switch from RNG to the live platform.
Live Poker works the same as a real poker game, and you can watch the events unfold as they happen. Variations include the popular Texas Hold’em and full tournament modes with big prizes.
A lottery sometimes referred to as a lotto, is one of the easiest ways to gamble online. There are many different online lottery game variations available, but the two most popular in Ireland is the Irish Lotto and the 49ers, both of which are drawn live.
All you have to do is choose your numbers and try to match them with the drawn numbers. A dealer will pull numbers out one by one, so it’s thrilling to watch. Lottery appeals to smaller stakes players as it only costs a couple of euros to get involved, but winnings can be huge. The more numbers you match, the higher the payout will be. You don’t have to spend a lot to win a lot.
Online craps game is a dice game and is often the most crowded and rowdiest table at any land-based casino. That’s because it can accommodate up to 20 players. The game is so fast-paced, with players betting on the outcome of a dice throw. It’s popular with players because it has the lowest house edge of any table game, meaning, in theory, it should be easier to win.
There are many different possible dice combinations, all of which payout differently. Each Live Craps game will have a different minimum stake, and a player can win up to 35x their money if they win.
Many other live casino games are growing in popularity, perhaps none so much as Live Deal or No Deal. The Evolution-exclusive game is a live casino take on the long-running TV show. Players have to open 16 briefcases in a hunt for the top prize while being tempted by offers from the banker to cash out. There is a fun and exciting live host to make the thing that much more enjoyable.
Sic Bo is a straightforward game to play and is also available on the live casino platform. You are simply betting on the outcome of a dice roll, and you can opt from specific combinations, high or low and other markets. The live dealer then activates the dice shaker, and the outcome is determined.
Hi-Lo is another live casino game worth a mention. The live dealer will draw a card, and the player has to choose whether the next card will be higher or lower than the previous. Again, it’s quick, easy to play and enjoyable.
Best Live Gambling Software Providers
Many software providers have developed live casino games over the years. However, a couple of names stand out as being the very best at live casinos. Check them out:
- Evolution Gaming – Evolution Gaming is a company from Stockholm, Sweden, that launched in 2006. Although their portfolio of games spreads across all categories, their selection of live casino options is by far the most impressive on the market. Evolution was one of the first developers to create live casino games and continue to be the best. Some of the most popular live casino games from Evolution include; Live Roulette, Live Blackjack, Live Poker and Deal or No Deal Live.
- NetEnt – NetEnt is one of the biggest and oldest casino software developers. Launched in 1996, the brand has become famous for its huge selection of popular slots. But that’s not all; NetEnt has diversified and now offers some of the industry’s best live dealer casino games. It’s a newer venture for NetEnt than it is for the likes of Evolution, so the portfolio is smaller. Some of the top live casino games from NetEnt include Live Roulette, Live Craps and Live Bacarrat.
- Playtech – Playtech was founded in 1999 in Estonia. It is one of the most recognisable names in the online casino world, as it is the brand behind many classic slots and table games. Playtech’s cutting-edge live platform results in professional and user-friendly live casino games, including its very own flagship game, Grand Royal. Other live options include Hi-Lo, Sic Bo and of course, Blackjack and Roulette.
How to Play Live Casino on Mobile
Live casinos initially launched on desktop devices only, as the best mobile casinos were not launched yet. However, thanks to time and developments, mobile live casinos are now a reality and preferred for most players. It’s gotten to the point now that live casino is as good on mobile as it is on any other device. There are a few ways to play mobile live casino, and they are:
Live Casino on Browser
Playing casino games live on a browser is simple; all you have to do is visit your chosen live casino site, log in and choose a game to play. These casinos are perfectly optimised for most mobile devices on Android and IOS and can adjust to all screen sizes. You can use a live casino site in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and most other browsers.
The drawback to using a browser is that the casino will not provide dedicated technical support if you have any errors. But the good thing is that you will not have to install any software on your phone or use up any extra space.
Live Casino Apps
Live Casino apps are great because they are a dedicated place to play. They have been developed by software providers and casino companies and often produce the best gaming experience. In addition, there will be technical support, help, and FAQs if any of the games aren’t working correctly.
Although a live casino app is probably the best way to play, it does require you to download and install the software directly on your phone. This can take up more space and possibly result in unwanted push notifications too.
Live Casino Bonuses
There are many different bonus types for live casino players. The best live casinos will offer a generous welcome bonus for new players and a great loyalty scheme for the existing ones. These bonuses live casino offers can come in many shapes and sizes, and no two are ever the same. Here’s a breakdown of what a live casino bonus can look like:
- Deposit Matches – Deposit matches are the most popular type of live casino bonus. They appeal to small stakes players and high-rollers as you can deposit the minimum or the maximum for a bonus. For example, a 100% up to €500 might have a minimum deposit of €10, which will earn you a €10 bonus. But you can also choose the deposit the complete €500 for a matched bonus. Some casinos also offer a reload, where a first deposit match will be 100%, and subsequent deposits can be 75% or 50%.
- Free Live Casino Bonus – There are some completely free no deposit bonuses too. This could be on sign up or perhaps as a loyalty reward. The amount can range anywhere from €5 to €20, and the bonus can only be used on selected live casino games. They are usually given for you to test out the live casino and get a taste of what’s available if you deposit and play.
- Free Spins – Free spins are given to players to use on slots. This is great fun, especially if you’re a live casino player that doesn’t often deviate from the live platform. They are given on popular slot games and are a great way of trying something different. Free spins can be rewarded as part of a welcome package or as part of a loyalty scheme.
- Cashback – Cashback is particularly popular amongst live casino players. The structure can differ by the casino, but an example would be 10% cashback on losses every week up to a certain amount. This will be paid out on the same day every week and guarantees that you will get at least a portion of your losses refunded. This is a great way to play with extra peace of mind.
Bonus Terms and Conditions
Every live casino bonus will have terms and conditions attached. Each casino operator chooses its terms, so it’s essential to understand them before accepting a bonus. Here are some of the specific bonus terms you should be looking out for:
- Wagering requirements – The lower, the better, and anything under 30x is quite generous, depending on the bonus size.
- Maximum wins – You will only be able to withdraw a maximum amount from a bonus, so check what this limit is.
- Maximum stakes – Exceeding the maximum stake condition can result in your bonus being forfeited. It’s usually around 10%. So a 5 euro spin on a 50 euro bonus.
- Expiry dates – Some bonuses have very short expiry dates and could disappear in a matter of days. Be sure to use it before you lose it.
- Game limitations – Your bonus might only be valid on a particular game, such as Live Roulette or Blackjack. Check this first to avoid any disappointment.
Deposits and Withdrawals Explained
Live casinos have the same deposit and withdrawal processes as any standard casino site. The exact procedure and timescales will differ depending on the payment method used. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to deposit and withdraw from live casinos:
How to deposit into a live online casino
- Choose a live casino from our list of recommendations
- Register your details and create an account
- Click on the ‘banking’ option in the main menu
- Select deposit and choose a payment method
- Enter how much you want to deposit
- Confirm your details and click deposit
How to withdrawal from a live casino
- Check that your balance meets the minimum withdrawal
- Visit the ‘banking’ section in the main menu
- Select withdrawal and your chosen payment method
- Enter how much you want to withdraw and click confirm
Which payment method you use will depend on a number of different factors, and the most important thing is to check that the live casino accepts your preferred way to pay. Here are the most common payment methods found at live dealer casinos:
- Debit and Credit Cards – You can use your Visa, Mastercard or Maestro just like when you shop anywhere online. All you have to do is enter your card details, and you can even store them for later. Although one of the most popular ways to deposit into a live casino, the withdrawal times can take up to 5 days.
- E-Wallets – E-Wallets include; PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, EcoPayz, Paysafecard, and others. They are available on almost every live casino, and it’s as easy as remembering a username and password. Withdrawals can be as quick as 24 hours.
- Bank Transfer – You can still opt for the traditional bank transfer method to your chosen casino. This is one of the only deposit methods that aren’t instant, as the transaction needs to appear at the casino end before being credited to your account.
- Cryptocurrency – Crypto is one of the newest ways to pay at live dealer casinos. It’s anonymous, safe, secure and kept completely separate from your bank transactions. But, unfortunately, it’s only available on a select number of casinos.
Popularity of Live Online Casinos in Ireland
Live online casinos are growing rapidly. As the technology improves and mobile optimisation is sharper, more Irish players opt to play in real-time. Of course, there will always be a market for a land-based casino and the experience it brings, but online player numbers in Ireland are at an all-time high.
There are more online live casinos than ever before opening their doors to players from Ireland, and we expect this trend to continue.
Which live casino games are best for low stakes?
- Roulette is a fantastic live casino game for low stakes players. The minimum bets tend to be a lot lower than other table games, and you can win up to 37x times your stake by landing a number. Live roulette attracts all player types, but if you’re starting small, we recommend that you begin here. Alternatively, a lotto is another great option. Stakes can begin as low as a euro and prizes can be in the thousands, but the odds are very difficult to beat.
Which live casino games are best for high rollers?
- Blackjack is the perfect live casino game for a high roller. You can double your money on every winning hand, which can be a substantial sum if your initial stake is big enough. Blackjack draws in the high roller crowd that love the thrill of double or nothing. Another great example is Hi-Lo, where you can also double your cash by just selecting whether the next card will be high or lower.
Are live casinos safe for Irish players?
- As long as the live casino is appropriately licensed and regulated in The UK, Malta, or Curacao, it is safe to play at. This means that players are protected in the event of a dispute and that the brand is regularly checked for compliance and fairness. Every live casino listed on this page is 100% safe, but if you find one elsewhere, be sure to do due diligence before you register any details.
Are real dealer casino games fair?
- Yes, as part of the regulation, all casino games have to be fair. There is a house edge and a return to player percentage (RTP), both of which are clear for the player to see before spending any money. The average RTP of a Blackjack game is around 99.5%, so the odds are in your favour. You just need a little bit of luck on your side, as with all gambling activities.
Which is the best live casino online?
- Each of the brands on this page has been recognised as one of the best live casinos, all with active licenses. Our strict assessment criteria and review processes separate the good from the bad. By the time a live casino appears on our top list, it has ticked every box and is guaranteed to be one of the best options for players.
Does every site have a mobile live casino?
- Many best live casino sites now have a mobile live casino, but they aren’t all created equal. Older brands are still catching up in places, whereas newer brands launch with a mobile-first mentality. Each of the casinos listed on this page has a fantastic mobile-friendly option where you can play your favourite real dealer games on the go.
Is a live casino better than an RNG casino?
- There are fans of RNG casinos, and there are fans of live casinos. Whether you think one is better than the other will depend on your playing habits. There are many pros to live casino, though, that you don’t get with an RNG casino. Lie casino has much less of a computerised feel for players and is the closest thing to being in the casino. It’s much more immersive than the standard casino experience, which is why it’s becoming so popular.
Can I get a bonus at an Irish live casino?
- Yes, most live casinos in Ireland will offer you a welcome bonus when registering and making your first deposit. This is likely to be a deposit match, to begin with, but can be a combination of two bonus types. The generosity will continue if you become a regular player, too, with additional casino bonuses live and cashback. Each of the casinos on this page accepts players in Ireland, and all have a great welcome bonus.