An introduction to live online casino gambling (Part 3)


Part 1 – Overview
Live casino gaming in a nutshell
Platform provider versus casino
What does the interface look like
About the video stream & dealers
Games offered in live format
Best Live Casino
Part 2 – Digging deeper
About live blackjack
About live baccarat
About live roulette
Playing for free
Banking, deposits & withdrawals
Some cool game features
Part 3 – Some more facts
Certifications worth knowing about
Connection speed requirements
Licensing and regulatory regimes
Industry development
Legal issues
Security and payout audits

Certifications worth knowing about

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 review page.

Connection speed requirements

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!

Licensing and regulatory regimes

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 here.

Industry development

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.

Legal issues

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 practices.

For a more detailed discussion of legal considerations by jurisdiction, visit our online gambling legal issues page.

Security and payout audits

Payout reviews:

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.

For more percentage payout certifications of casinos listed on this site, visit our certified payouts page.

Security:

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.