The quest for more realism, interaction and immersion in online gambling has led to a boom in live streaming. From online poker and casino to sports betting, the leading platforms have all embraced new technology to create a gaming experience that’s almost as good as being in the thick of it.
Contributing to this move towards live entertainment is the rise of social media sites such as YouTube and Twitch. According to FortuneLords, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world and currently sees 30 million visitors watch five billion videos each day.
As for Twitch, the livestreaming platform now has more than 100 million active monthly users watching gaming, poker and music content, with some players streaming thousands of hours of online poker.
Were it not for YouTube making videos a part of everyday life and Twitch showing us that online games can be a communal experience, live betting streams may not have materialised. Today there are three main ways to go live in the virtual betting world.
The first streams to become popular with punters were sports broadcasts. Thanks to licensing deals between the leading betting operators, horseracing authorities and the tracks themselves, online customers can view live racing every day.
What’s unique about these services is that they aren’t a 24/7 option. To gain access to a live stream, customers have to place a bet on the race in question. Although you don’t have to bet a lot, you do have to have a stake in the race to watch it unfold in real-time.
By running the service in this way, operators are able to maintain TV-quality productions complete with expert commentary. What’s also great about this system is that the streams are just long enough to see the conclusion of the race. So, once the action is over, you can refocus your attention on the odds for the next event.
Although live streaming poker games are still a fairly niche product, they are available at sites such as 888poker. The way these tables work is fairly simple as you learn the the dos and don'ts of online poker. As you sit down in an empty seat, the software asks for permission to access your webcam.
This technology has been around for more than a decade and basically initiates a protocol that turns on your camera and relays the information to site/application you’re using. Assuming you grant the software permission (you don’t have to), your face (or whatever is in front of the camera) will become your avatar.
The obvious benefit of this system is that it gives you the ability to get physical reads on your opponent in the same way you would in a live game. This, in turn, can help your results as you may be able to make more informed bets, bluffs and folds.
However, what webcam poker is also good for is fun. Because the software can also access your device’s microphone, it’s possible to have a conversation with your tablemates and bring a little more spice to proceedings. And in the future, players might be interacting with tables in real life casinos.
The final innovation that’s taken online betting to a more immersive level in the last five years is live dealer tables. Through a combination of HD webcams, RFID chips and heads-up displays, developers such as NetEnt, Evolution and Extreme Live Gaming have been able to create games that feel authentic.
When you ante up at a live dealer table, the process of making a bet is almost identical to the one you’ll go through at a virtual table. Put simply, you’ll select your chip size, click on the appropriate section of the table and that’s it. However, when you look up, the table in front of you is real, as is the person controlling the game.
Because you can see everything in real-time, any concerns regarding safety or fairness are dispelled. The one thing you have to keep in mind when you play live casino games is that you won’t be alone. Naturally, this makes everything more social, but it also means you have to act within certain time limits.
However, this does help to keep things moving at a swift pace so you can still achieve a healthy hourly win rate if your luck is in. When you survey the online betting scene in its entirety, it’s clear that everything is more engaging and entertaining than it once was.
By utilising the latest streaming innovations, the leading operators have brought an extra dimension to all our games and pursuits. Although live streams can sometimes slow things down, the upside is that the action is more entertaining and enjoyable. It's not all about the money, after all.