An introduction to live online casino gambling (Part 3)
In the last decade or so as the online gambling industry has
developed and matured, a number of organizations have been formed with
the aim of providing a best practice operating framework and code of conduct for
operators to adhere to...and audit certifications to this end. Of course
many have been identified as either fraudulent or totally meaningless, but a
couple have emerged as universally recognized and respected organizations/certifications.
One of the better known certifications is eCOGRA's. All gambling sites
bearing the eCOGRA seal have satisfied their operating guidelines including
consideration of account security, prompt payouts, return to player rate audits
and advertising methods. Sites that have sought and received eCOGRA
certification are noted on this site by the eCOGRA tick (
) on their
Live casino games require a live video feed to be streamed
reasonably seamlessly to be effectively and enjoyably played. This means
that when playing these games you will be downloading quite large bundles of
data in quick time, which raises the issue of what type of internet connection speed you
require in order to play the games.
A more complete discussion of this issue is set out at our
live casino gambling
connection speed requirements page, but in summary, at anything below 500
Kbps you are going to struggle. Ideally you want speeds above 1 Mbps for
nice smooth vision and limited buffering and freeze frames.
In order to test your actual connection speed (ie not the ISP
advertised speed of your service), try a service like
speedtest.net, which will
test and display your actual connection speed at any given time for free and
immediately. You might be surprised to find your 12Mbps service runs
closer to 1.5 Mbps most of the time!
There are a number of jurisdictions around the world that
offer licenses for online gambling operators. Of course the rigor of
regulatory controls and associated compliance audits vary significantly from one
jurisdiction to the next.
Many Caribbean, Central American and Pacific Island nations
opened their doors to online gambling operators during the 1990's with limited
(if any) regulation of licensees. Not surprisingly operators, both
legitimate and unscrupulous, flocked to these jurisdictions and enjoyed both
favorable or non existent gaming tax rates and an unfettered operating environment.
To this day, jurisdictions like Vanuatu, Curacao and Costa Rica remain prolific
licensors of online gambling operators.
More recently, EEA Member governments have started
introducing more meaningful licensing and regulatory regimes. The UK
passed the The
Gambling Act 2005 ('the Act') which came into effect in 2007 and offered a
rigorous regulatory environment for licensees to adhere to and a newly
established authority to oversee its operation. It also provided an
assessment of other licensing jurisdictions and afforded 'White List' status to
those deemed suitable. Included in the white list are Gibraltar,
Antigua Barbuda, and all EEA Members.
A full list of licensing
jurisdictions relevant to live casinos listed on this site is set out
Compared with the broader online gambling industry, live
casino gambling is still in its relative infancy. While online casinos
offering computer generated or RNG games were taking bets as early as the mid
1990s, the first live casinos of note weren't operating until 2003.
Obviously the success of the platform has been reliant to a
large extent on a reasonable penetration of broadband networks around the world,
allowing for a critical mass of players armed with adequate connection speeds.
I would imagine the next stage in live gaming's progression,
now that there is reasonable player traction, is an expansion in game range.
Presently most live casinos offer only blackjack, baccarat and roulette (and
some variations thereof). Clearly there is scope for addition of many
other casino games in the future.
A more detailed, chronological, view of the industry's
development is set out at our live
casino timeline page.
This is a Pandora's box in all but a handful of
jurisdictions. Many countries don't have legislation dealing specifically
with online gambling, and those that do haven't necessarily made the situation
any clearer. In the US for example, interpretation and effective application of
the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ("UIGEA") has proven confusing
and problematic even for the authorities charged with its enforcement - leaving
little chance for operators and players to come to grips with the law.
From a player's perspective it is worth noting that most
legislative attempts to either permit and regulate online gambling on the one
hand, or ban it on the other, are generally aimed at online gambling operators, or payment facilitators and/or ISP's where attempts to
restrict access are made. UIGEA for example imposes restrictions on US
banks and payment processors' ability to facilitate online gambling
transactions. As noted by online gambling legal expert Professor I. Nelson Rose,
“no United States federal statute or regulation explicitly prohibits online
gambling, either domestically or abroad.”
The UK is one of the few countries that has unequivocally
opened its market to local and licensed offshore online gambling operators and
provided a clear regulatory framework including considerations for player
protection. Other EEA Members are taking a very mixed approach - some
announcing plans to follow the UK's lead and others looking to restrict local
access to foreign operators - albeit at the risk of
being subject to European Commission infringement proceedings for restrictive trade
For a more detailed discussion
of legal considerations by jurisdiction, visit our online
gambling legal issues page.
Randomness of online casino games has been a major concern
for players since the industry's inception. How do you know you're not being
cheated by the game when outcomes are computer generated? Of course this
is not as much of consideration for live games where the outcomes aren't
dictated by computer random numbers generators but rather an actual deal/spin.
To alleviate player concerns with regard to game fairness a
number of the larger casino software developers, lead by Microgaming, engaged
the services of independent third parties to audit and publish historical return
to player rates of licensee casinos to prove returns consistent with game
mathematics outcomes (ie fair). PriceWaterhouseCoopers performed this service
for Microgaming for a number of years. Since 2007 eCOGRA have been
engaged. Playtech engage Technical Systems Testing Inc. to audit and
report historical returns of their licensee casinos.
While RNG randomness isn't relevant to live games, from a
player assurance point of view third party audit of historical game payouts
certainly doesn't hurt. To this end, live games have been included in
payout reviews by both eCOGRA and TST.
Example payout percentage certifications from eCOGRA and TST
with respect to Riverbelle and Bet365 respectively are set out below.
For more percentage payout certifications of casinos listed
on this site, visit our certified payouts
All reputable casinos use industry standard 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
encryption technologies for all secure (ie post login) pages provided by well
known service providers like Thawte or Verisign. This is the same level of
encryption used by your bank for its online account services. Online
casinos should offer details of the security technology they employ
at their website.