Do online Live Casinos cheat?
The single biggest concern for any gambler, in real life or virtual gambling, is whether they are getting a fair deal. Winning or losing is all a part of the gambling experience and a big reason for the thrill that gamblers experience but finding out that the odds were stacked against you because of underhanded cheating leaves a very bitter taste in any gamblers mouth.
We are all just looking for a fair chance to overcome the odds and walk away a winner.
This is why legitimate casinos are such big business. Gamblers know that these establishments are set up and closely monitored to ensure fair play, and that regulators keep an eagle eye on everything that happens – from the games to the players to the operators to the financial transactions.
The rise of the online and mobile casino industry opened up the excitement of gambling to a far larger worldwide audience, but also opened new avenues for criminals and con artists to fleece the unsuspecting of their hard-earned cash. With the granting of government-approved online gambling licenses, players could start relaxing knowing that, if their gambling partners were licensed, they would have to offer fair and open play that could be tracked, monitored, and penalised if anything untoward was happening.
For South Africans in particular, this licensing was well-received. Now we could join the international online casino world without worrying too much about being scammed.
The newest innovation in online gambling – online Live casinos – has renewed concerns around cheating. These concerns can be put to rest easily – make sure you are playing at a legit and licensed online casino! But it goes beyond that. A lot of the doubt comes from players not understanding how an online Live Casino works, and what makes it so difficult for the casino to cheat players.
The Online Casino Review team did some undercover investigations (we played a butt-load of online Live Casino games at different online casinos), and this is what we found.
What is an online Live Casino?
Online Live Casinos are the latest, and possibly the greatest, things to happen to the online gambling world in ages. Where online casino games brought real money games of chance into our personal spaces, online Live Casinos bring the whole casino!
The idea for playing casino via video has been around since the 1990s but it was the advent of smartphones and the need for faster internet speeds that allowed this awesome innovation to thrive. The first proper online Live Casinos started appearing around 2007 and have now become a feature of premium, high-end online casinos – and even moved into the mobile casino world.
Through modern tech, you can now get the in real life casino experience – the dealers, the cards, the wheels, the thrills – from the comfort of your own home, in real time.
Picture sitting down at the blackjack table, talking to the dealer, seeing the cards being dealt – all while wearing your PJs on your very own couch in your very own house.
It’s all thanks to webcam technology and fast internet speeds and global access to the world wide web.
So, why are we so confident that the online Live Casinos at legit, licensed operators do not cheat? It’s all down to the set-up.
Building, operating, and hosting an online Live Casino is a costly exercise, one of the main barriers to scam artists looking to make a quick buck. Unlike basic video-based games, online Live Casinos need extensive software, hardware, and human operations to function.
This is easily seen in how an online Live casino is set up.
Online Live Casinos need dedicated and specialised hardware and software programmes, they need viable space (think movie studio type spaces) for the tables and equipment, they need cameras and camera operators, they need dealers and pit bosses, and they need control rooms.
The online Live Dealer studio
The studio is a space set up to look exactly like a real life, bricks-and-mortar casino floor. There are numerous tables and all the related equipment needed to run games like blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat, and sic bo, for example. Some studios are even dedicated to offering game show style games like Monopoly, Spin and Win, or Deal or No deal.
The beauty of these studios is in their adaptability – they can be designed to look like anything, just like a Hollywood movie set (although the majority are dressed to look like the very opulent casinos).
The studio also incorporates a very important area called the Control Room.
The Control Room
The Control Room is where the directors (and sometimes some of the pit bosses) sit. The director choreographs all the action that takes place in the studio, things like camera angles and dealer placements and so on, and oversees what is happening at each table.
The director has access to a bank of monitors that shows who is playing, what chatter is happening, whether there are any problems, and the actions of the dealers. Pit bosses also keep an eye on the games as they happen.
High-definition and high-quality cameras and camera operators are placed around the studio to capture and record the games. Camera crews focus on individual tables and each table has a number of cameras at any given time to make sure that different angles can be captured to bring an immersive, engaging, and interactive feel to the game.
The Game Control Unit
Probably one of the most critical aspects of the online Live Casino – even though it’s only the size of a shoebox – is the Game Control Unit or GCU. This dedicated piece of hardware processes and encrypts all the footage and action from the games
This digitising of the gameplay allows the player to see what is going on in real time, allows the director and pit bosses to keep an eye on proceedings, and makes the online Live Casino games possible by recognising and processing the tech aspects of the games, like the Optical Character Recognition.
Optical Character Recognition
OCR (no, not the Online Casino Review OCR, the Optical Character Recognition OCR) is software that allows the system to recognise things like what cards are being displayed. It works just like those darn cameras that catch your car license plate when you get a speeding fine.
It’s one of the reasons why the cards at an online Live Casino look so weird. No, you’re not having an acid flashback. Yes, they are quite a bit bigger than normal playing cards. Yes, the values are dominant on the card faces. Why? So that it’s easier for the OCR to pick up and evaluate.
The equipment (the tables, the wheels, the cloths, the cards) are all exactly like those in a land-based casino and operate exactly the same way – apart from the oversized cards and the sensors in the roulette wheels that tell the OCR and the GCU where the ball has landed.
One of the coolest aspects of online Live Casinos is the merging of the physical and the virtual. Not only are the games played on real equipment the software makes it incredibly quick to calculate hands and spins. Beyond that, and an indication of where the online casino could push the entertainment industry, are games like Live Monopoly. If you haven’t seen this amazing and immersive casino game, do yourself a favour and fine an online casino that offers it. The combination of live Win and Spin and boardgame with amazing graphics and animation is incredible.
The dealers are a huge part of the Live Casino allure – especially at the high-end online casinos. These are professionally trained, expert dealers and croupiers. And they look the part. Slick skills and perfectly presented from their attitudes to their outfits to their hairstyles – they would not look out of place at a Monte Carlo casino.
We’ve mentioned the movie set-style studios but, more important than this are the game studios that are a part of the phenomenal growth of online Live Casinos. All the big players have a stake in this fast-growing game, and you will see providers like Microgaming, Amaya, Playtech, Pragmatic Play, and Realtime Gaming.
But the biggest player has got to be Evolution Gaming. They really pioneered the way online Live Casinos operate and, at one stage, were opening a new online Live Casino every year. Their tech and vision are what took online Live Casinos from an interesting idea to a fully-fledged game-changer.
So, do online Live casinos cheat?
Absolutely not. It’s almost impossible with all the tech and the human element constantly at play. Between the software, the OCR and GCU, the director, the pit bosses, and the reputation of industry giants at stake, the online Live Casino business is one that is closely monitored and a mirror to the land-based casinos.
Sure, you will find casinos that cheat. But that just means you haven’t done your homework in checking the licensing and legitimacy of the operator. It’s one of OCR’s first rules of playing at online casinos – make sure you’re playing with a trusted partner. If they are legit, there online Live casino will be a perfect place to experience the real casino in your own home.