Brief History of Live Dealer Games & Casinos

When Evolution announced it was buying NetEnt, it shocked the iGaming world to its core. It was proof that the live casino model was lucrative enough to compete with existing gaming giants. Could anyone have predicted this happening when the first live dealer games hit the market? Probably not, given the humble beginnings of live casinos.

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The Very Beginning

Live dealer games were not a new idea. There were attempts as far back as 1998 to try something like this. However, technology was simply not on the required level at the time. Just to give you some perspective. Microgaming launched the first online casino in 1995. The first attempt at live casinos was three year after the first online casino launched.

These early games had their fair share of issues. Computers at the time were limited, and internet speeds were slow. Dial-up internet meant your round of poker could be interrupted by a phone call. Despite these limitations, the convenience of online casinos was impossible to ignore. More and more players were trying their luck online. Which meant the landscape was drastically improving.

Online casinos progressed well, but there was still plenty of scepticism regarding gambling online. With the rise of the smartphone, the entire world was starting to connect to the internet every day. Every year, tens of thousands of new players were trying their first casino games. Online casinos exploded in popularity. As technology improved, so did player expectations.

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The Rise of Live Casinos

However, live casinos appeared just before the first smartphones hit the market. We saw the first titles launch sometime around 2006 or 2007. They were very rare at the time. The conditions were not perfect for live casinos, but they were improving. Better internet speeds allowed video streaming of real dealers handling actual cards and roulette wheels.

Live dealer games did benefit from smartphones launching. As more people had phones, internet speeds had to be increased as more devices demanded bandwidth. When smartphones went from cool gadget to must-have device, live casinos were ready. Around 2012, all major software providers started shifting towards HTML5. A move made to allow mobile players to enjoy casino games without need for a PC.

Evolution’s Dominance

Evolution had the formula figured out before anyone else had the opportunity. Other developers tried their hand at the concept, but nobody could match them. They expanded rapidly and signed agreements with big online casinos. By 2010, the team picked up their first international awards.

Expansion would not stop there. From 2013 to 2017, Evolution opened a new studio every year. 2017 was also the year the developer debuted Dream Catcher, their first live game show title. At that point, their dominance over the live casino industry was unparalleled. They would launch numerous Lightning variations of popular casino games. The company also expanded in Canada, the US, and is currently conquering the Latin American market.

Everyone Else

Mind you, Evolution was not the only software provider offering live casino games. They were the most successful. Most of the company’s biggest developers were late to the party. Playtech lagged behind with their own implementation. Pragmatic Play entered the fray by acquiring Extreme Live Gaming. NetEnt also tried to enter the live casino space, but that project was scrapped after Evolution bought them.

That leaves us with the situation we have today. Evolution leads the pack, and everyone else is lagging behind them. It shows just how far live dealer games and casinos have come. What started as a novelty quickly became the primary way people played. You no longer had to deal with substandard visuals and playing by yourself. Now, you could get the real casino experience from your home.

With the past behind us, we can now look forward to what comes next. We have seen quite a few interesting announcements from all software providers. Will Evolution continue to be dominant? Will another software provider take the throne? Will VR casinos eventually overtake live dealer games? Stick with us, and we will make sure you do not miss the next big thing.