✬ 1994/2003 – THE BIRTH OF A NEW KIND OF CASINO
The online casino world would never have been this fair and transparent without regulatory bodies. These strictly monitor the activities of the various online casinos. Rules are in place to ensure the ethical treatment of players, fair gaming conditions, responsible gaming and customer protection. But how and when did these regulatory authorities (supervisors) actually arise?
✬ 1994 – ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA ISSUE THE FIRST ONLINE CASINO LICENSES
In 1994, the first major event that makes online gambling possible in principle takes place. The small and relatively unknown Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda is the first jurisdiction in which online casinos have a license could apply after local government signed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act.
This piece of legislation led to the formation of the Directorate of Offshore Gaming. A division of the local Financial Services Regulatory Commission, with various licensing and regulatory responsibilities.
A major game developer was also founded this year, namely Microgaming and. This was the first provider of online casino software. A logical consequence was that it was also the first company to set up an official online casino from scratch. The company launched the first online casino, the Gaming Club. And it also became one of the largest suppliers of gambling software in the world.
✬ 1996 – THE KAHNAWAKE GAMING COMMISSION IN NORTH AMERICA
Two years after online gambling became possible, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission founded in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, Canada. Three years later, this Commission issued its first licenses after passing the Kahnawake Gaming Law, which introduced its Interactive Gaming Regulations in July 1999.
The regulator initially licensed casinos hosted in their own Mohawk Internet Technology data center. This included many casinos that served US customers despite online gambling being banned altogether in America at the time.
This changed in November 2017 when the Commission changed its policy after reaching an agreement with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Control. The regulator withdrew all licenses from casinos targeting the American market. The Kahnawake regulator is currently one of the foremost regulatory bodies in the online casino world. It has numerous live casino licensees.
In 1996, the Interactive Gaming Council was also formed. Of which Microgaming was one of the founding members. This entity provides a unified voice in the online casino world and ensures that its members adhere to a strict code of conduct for fairness.
✬ 2000 – ALDERNEY GAMING COMMISSION AS THE FIRST EUROPEAN SUPERVISORY AUDITOR
De Alderney Gambling Control Commission was founded in the year 2000 with the mandate to enforce Alderney's recently introduced online gambling legislation. The Alderney Gambling Law was passed a year earlier. The Gambling Control Commission became one of the leading regulators for online casinos not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world.
Some of the most reputable licensees include Grosvenor Casinos, Genting Casino, Paddy Power, NetBet and Super Casino. These are all impressive casinos that all live casino games to offer. One of the most recent additions to Alderney's list of licensees is Evolution, the world-renowned game developer of live games. a received its Alderney license in August 2017.
✬ 2003 – ECOGRA IS ESTABLISHED
The year 2003 was marked by the arrival of the non-profit organization eCOGRA, which most players are familiar with. Software studio Microgaming was also involved in the creation of this body. The aim of the organization is to provide a unified framework for ethical practices in the interactive gambling world.
In addition to handling player complaints and assisting in resolving them, eCOGRA is also a globally acclaimed testing agency. It checks the software of various online casinos to ensure that the games get their expected theoretical returns and the games are fair. A casino with eCOGRA's stamp of approval is always a good choice for those who insist on having peace of mind when it comes to fair play.
✬ 2003/2008 – FROM ONLINE GAMES TO LIVE CASINOS
Then online gambling was first introduced, interactive casinos had no choice but to limit themselves to RNG-based games. The technology had not yet improved to the extent that live casino games were possible. This is because the internet speed was simply not fast enough for this.
This all changed in the early 2000s when the first live dealer casinos appeared on the scene. Changing the way online slots were played overnight.
✬ 2003 – CWC GAMING PIONEERS WITH THE FIRST LIVE CASINO
The first live casino was developed by developer CWC Gaming. This happened after the company launched a live stream from its dedicated live dealer studio in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. The company was founded in 2003.
The casino offered live baccarat, roulette, Sic Bo and blackjack variants. But one could also use a variety slots play. One of its most prominent clients was Ladbrokes.
However, this British operator signed a contract with Evolution in 2009. CWC's offerings were soon stifled by this competitor's games. The CWC games received less traffic and the company's revenues fell. CWC Gaming closed shop in December 2012, but nevertheless went down in history as the first supplier to launch live casino games.
✬ 2003 – PLAYTECH INTRODUCES ITS LIVE CASINO PLATFORM
The potential of live casino games has not gone unnoticed. After CWC launched the live offering, the Isle of Man based company also kicked off Playtech offering live casino games. The company was founded in 1999. But it wasn't until 2003 that it added live casino games to its range of games.
The year 2017 was a turning point for the company. Because then Playtech moved its live dealers to a new facility in the Latvian capital Riga. It is considered the largest live casino facility in the world, with a floor space of 8.500 square meters.
The technology in the new facility is as impressive as its size. Hundreds of cameras are deployed to live stream the action in front of hundreds of custom casino tables. In addition, the company also has live studios in Romania, Spain, the Philippines and Belgium.
Playtech uses state-of-the-art streaming technology to bring its live casino offerings to players' screens. The company is currently distributing its live suite to many regulated markets, including Romania, UK, Italy and Spain. The company employs more than 500 native-speaking dealers on the live blackjack, roulette, baccarat and poker tables.
✬ 2006 – INTRODUCING MICROGAMING AND EVOLUTION LIVE CASINO GAMES
With the increase in the popularity of live casinos, the number of companies that started to specialize in them also increased. Many followed Playtech's lead by adding live dealer platforms to their game offerings. Microgaming and Evolution made a big splash in 2006.
Microgaming entered the live casino world with the launch of an advanced live platform that offers in-home replicas of classic casino games such as baccarat, roulette, blackjack, poker and Sic Bo.
The company delivers a premium gaming experience from its Philippine and Canadian studios. In 2010, Microgaming introduced several upgrades to its live dealer product. The blue background it previously used for a stylish casino floor was omitted. This created a more authentic gaming environment for players.
The year 2006 was also marked by the arrival of Evolution. The company would become one of the leading providers of live casino software in the world. A year later, the company signed its first deals with major operators such as William Hill, Expekt, Party Gaming and Gala Coral.
Launched in 2009, Evolution's live studio in Riga occupies over 2.000 square meters of performance space. And it offers special environments for various blackjack, roulette, baccarat, casino-banked poker and dice games.
By 2016, the company had already won seven consecutive EGR awards for Live Casino Supplier of the Year. It also has studios in Belgium, Romania, Malta, Georgia, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, US and Canada.
✬ 2007 – SKY TV LIVE CASINO BROADCASTS START
In 2007, the interactive gambling company and operator of major gambling sites such as Super Casino, Smart Live Casino and Jackpot247 NetPlay TV was licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. As a result, Super Casino and Smart Live Casino started offering live roulette games through the dedicated TV channels Freesat and Sky TV.
In fact, Super Casino was the first game provider to broadcast live casino games on British television. Sky TV viewers now had the opportunity to place bets via the casino website, over the phone and via their smartphones.
The broadcasts ran every weeknight. That said, Super Casino was removed from the Freesat channel in the summer of 2010. Sky TV stopped broadcasting live games in March 2016.
✬ 2008/2020 – THE GROWTH OF THE LIVE CASINO WORLD
By 2008, live casinos had become a factor to be reckoned with. Every self-respecting online casino now has an offer of live casino games. The world of live casino games continued to grow in the years that followed and that growth does not seem to have come to an end for the time being.
✬ 2008/2010 – MORE CASINOS ADD LIVE CASINO GAMES TO THEIR LISTING
The number of game providers including live dealer games in their portfolio continued to grow steadily in the years after 2007. In 2008, operators such as Blue Square, Unibet en BetVictor all live casinos powered by the Evolution Gaming platform.
In the same year, William Hill Online was founded, a joint venture between software supplier Playtech and William Hill Plc. This led to the launch of the William Hill Casino Club featuring live casino games from none other than Playtech. Several years later, William Hill bought out the 29% share of Playtech, giving him full control of William Hill Online.
Sea live casinos went online in 2009 when operators Paddy Power, 888, Ladbrokes and PartyCasino all added Evolution Gaming live dealer offers to their websites. Meanwhile, Evolution Gaming expanded its Latvian studio by the impressive 400% and added more live tables.
New Evolution casinos continued to mushroom the following year, so much so that the company was named Live Casino Supplier of the Year at the 2010 EGR Awards.
At the same time, Microgaming has upgraded its live platform and added live blackjack to its roster.
✬ 2011 – THE FIRST LOCALIZED LIVE DEALER GAMES
Localized live dealer games started appearing around 2011. This is the year Betfair added a selection of live games from Playtech's European studio.
These were live tables localized in the language, designed to serve players from different markets. Players now had the chance to take advantage of multilingual user interfaces and live dealer services in their native language.
Evolution had a number of other significant achievements in 2011. The studio won its second consecutive EGR award for Live Casino Supplier of the Year. It was also licensed by the Italian regulator AAMS, allowing it to legally serve players from the local market. The company launched several localized tables complete with Italian-speaking dealers, including Venezia Live Roulette in 2011 and the release of Ventuno Blackjack in 2012.
✬ 2012 – FIRST SPECIAL LIVE GAME STUDIOS AND MOBILE GAMES
In 2012, many major game providers expanded their activities in the Italian market and launched “.it” domains under local licenses. Some of the most notable names that have entered this lucrative market are Party Casino, William Hill and Unibet, all of which use Evolution Gaming's localized live tables.
Unibet, in particular, became the first betting operator in history to receive a dedicated Evolution live dealer room in March 2012. The live part of the casino has been upgraded with five special tables, four for blackjack and one for live roulette. The tables have unique backgrounds, with the dealers wearing special brand uniforms with the Unibet logo. Contestant William Hill followed in May of the same year.
The first live dealer games for iPads were introduced a year earlier by Macau-based supplier EntwineTech. However, it took until 2012 before mobile live games gained popularity when major operators Grosvenor Casinos and Blue Square Evolution's added live roulette for iPads. The mobile gaming sector took off quickly.
✬ 2013 – MORE LIVE GAMES GO MOBILE, LANDBASED CASINO STREAMS START
In 2013, Playtech introduced live roulette for the iPad, while Evolution added live iOS blackjack to their game offerings. Live casino apps started appearing in Apple's UK App Store. The Swedish software supplier NetEnt joined the live gaming revolution in the same year.
Until 2013, live dealer games were largely hosted and broadcast from sophisticated studio environments. This changed when Playtech revealed its intentions to include live streams from a real land based casino (Spanish Casino Gran Madrid) in its constantly growing selection of live dealer games.
Evolution quickly saw the potential of this idea and soon followed Playtech's lead. The company launched live roulette streams from the floors of the Spanish casino Casino Rincon de Pepe and Italy's Casinò di Campione. Currently, Evolution also broadcasts live games from London's Hippodrome Casino and Maltese Dragonara Casino.
✬ 2015 – REGULATED LIVE GAMES IN US
In 2006, the administration of then US President George W. Bush enacted the so-called Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This piece of legislation made it illegal for financial institutions in the country to facilitate money transfers between US residents and offshore gambling operators without US licenses.
The problem was that very few states granted such licenses and the online operators had to work with US land-based casinos to legally serve players from the local market. This forced many live casinos, including Microgaming and Playtech, to withdraw their products and stop serving US players.
Things took a favorable turn for some American gambling fans in 2015 when the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City added a selection of live dealer tables to its online gaming site. The software was provided by supplier Ezugi, which was acquired by Evolution in January 2019.
✬ 2017/2020 – INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENTS
We already mentioned that Playtech spent most of 2017 migrating its live dealers to a new, bigger and better studio in Riga, which was a turning point in the company's history. Over the past few years, we've seen several improvements in the live dealer segment, with more and more providers introducing in-casino streams and gameplay.
Some of the most notable names in this regard are Evolution, Extreme Live Gaming (recently acquired by Pragmatic Play), and Authentic Gaming. The latter offers exclusive live roulette games, streamed from the floors of the Saint-Vincent Resort & Casino in Italy, the Hilton International Casino of Georgia in Batumi, the American Foxwoods Casino, the Aspers Casino in London, the Casino Bucharest in the Romanian capital and the German Casino Bad Homburg.
Numerous new features have been introduced to enhance players' live gaming experience, including behind betting, multiple camera angles, multi-tabling and multi-player tables. Fast play became a phenomenon, with most vendors adding speed deal and speed spin tables to their suites. The live casino industry will certainly continue to improve at a steady pace in the coming years.