Live From the Studio: A New Trend in Gaming

Gaming is the entertainment industry’s latest focus. Around the world, eSports have taken center stage. From mobile games or PC stand-outs, millions around the world regularly tune in to watch major events and tournaments. The same is true for famous Twitch and YouTube gaming streamers.

But the modern video game zeitgeist is only one component of a healthy and robust gaming industry. Behind the scenes, the iGaming sector has long been one of the most active and lucrative in the world. Gaming statistics from 2017 found that nearly 1.6 billion people in the world wagered at least once a year. During that same period, estimates placed the total number of gamers at 760 million.

Since then, trends have shifted. In 2023, video gamers numbered around 3.22 billion; bettors, by contrast, numbered only 1.6 billion. At least, in terms of casual players. In 2023, 4.2 billion bettors hit the tables (virtual or physical) at least once that year. Clearly, both industries remain on par in terms of popularity—a fact that might surprise those who have been following the video game zeitgeist.

How is it that casino gaming is able to match such meteoric gaming numbers? Does it fall back to the longstanding presence of casino gaming?

There are a myriad of factors that inform the shifting tides between iGaming and video gaming. But one of them is most certainly the rise of live dealer games, which is one of the most immersive and innovative new experiences for remote iGaming players.

Budding Interest in Live Dealer Titles

The vast majority of bettors stick to virtual platforms. That’s because they provide more accessible ways to play roulette, slots, and more. Plus, online casinos tend to offer steeper deals and better loyalty programs. One critical way that they appeal to new players is to offer the latest table games—and, as of the last few years, live dealer variations.

Live dealer or live casino games connect remote players to real-life dealers via a live video link. Dealers work in studios or, in certain cases, are live-streamed straight from an active casino floor. These studios and live streams are run by iGaming developers. Established casino brands then pay to host these live dealer titles.

For example, PokerStars Casino is one of the longest-standing brands in iGaming. Players who sign up with the company expect to see the latest and most cutting-edge titles—live dealer games included. To cater to these interests, PokerStars works with Evolution Gaming, a legacy iGaming developer that produces live dealer titles which are hosted on its site.


The New Dealer

So, what’s the big deal behind streaming real-life dealers to remote players? There are three key reasons this experience has revolutionized the industry. First and foremost, live dealer games transport players into a highly realistic simulation of their favorite games. In other words, they offer an unprecedented and immersive experience that many players crave.

Second, players usually prefer to game with certain dealers. This might come down to superstition; if a player wins big with a certain dealer, they’re apt to target them again. If you’ve seen Clive Owens’ Croupier, you know just how deep these relationships can run. Depending on the studio, players might be able to select certain dealers.

Third, there’s a social element involved, as players can interact with real-life dealers. Once again, the appeal falls back to realism. Players are transported to the casino floor—a place they probably don’t have access to every day.

Live Dealer Studios & Setups in the US

In the US, four iGaming companies run live dealer studios. These are Evolution Gaming, Authentic Gaming, Playtech, and Ezugi. As mentioned above, popular casino brands like PokerStars host live dealer games from these companies—but they don’t run the studios.

The first live dealer studio came from Evolution Gaming back in 2018. It continues to run in Atlantic City today. New Jersey is home to three different studios, while Michigan and Connecticut are home to two. Pennsylvania has only one studio that operates in Philadelphia.

New Jersey is the capital of the live dealer movement and is home to multiple live-streaming locations from inside casinos. Evolution runs live streams at Resorts Casino, Ocean Resort Casino, and HardRock Casino, while Ezugi has a location at the Golden Nugget Casino. Connecticut is home to one casino live-stream location at its Foxwoods Resort and Casino, which is run by Authentic Gaming.

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