When the first online casinos opened their virtual doors, many people were sceptical of the move away from real machines into the virtual realm. Fast-forward twenty years and online and mobile gambling has become the easiest and most convenient way to play the latest slots, table games and card games. While electronic games certainly have their place, we are seeing a strong movement towards live games and virtual reality, where human connection and social interaction are interfaced into the digital environment.
This type of social gaming development is popular in the gaming community where players link up across the world to battle each other in multiplayer games. But it is not the players that make the games social; it is the viewers. Thanks to the introduction of streaming game sites, anyone can log on and watch the action as it unfolds. With major international tournaments such as the DOTA 2, millions of viewers tune in to watch the finals.
The viewing of video games is easy to understand. Seeing how a team works together in a battle, which characters are chosen, and how the various powers are used makes for riveting entertainment. But can the same be said for online casino games? The latest phenomenon in the online casino industry is online casino game streaming. This is where a player would be playing their favourite slot or online casino card game, and streaming it live to the world for anyone to watch.
While this may sound bizarre, there is an entire subculture of casino enthusiasts who tune in to watch as players spin the reels or play a few rounds of Blackjack. Like online video game streaming, viewers can tune in via Twitch, YouNow and Periscope with 24-hour streaming for a global audience. The phenomenon has become so popular that there is a dedicated online casino streaming community site called Casino Grounds that is currently reaching over 500 viewers per stream. Here, casino enthusiasts can catch up on all the latest industry news, check out casino guides, post on forums and of course, watch the streamers in action.
While there is a relatively small base of people currently streaming, the idea is beginning to gain momentum and catch the eye of casino operators around the world. The question is why would a player want to stream their games and why would viewers want to watch? The first question is the easiest to answer. Streaming a game by a developer or from a particular casino is a form of free advertising. The more people who tune in, the more the operators get exposure to their product.
Let’s say a brand-new slot is launched and the operator wants to show all of its cool features. Having a streamer unlock the various levels while racking up some decent wins on the way is a great way to showcase their product in a real-world situation. In compensation, the casino or game developer would willingly hand over cash, casino credits and other rewards to the streamers who are showcasing their product. Basically, they are getting paid to gamble online, and who wouldn’t want that?
There’s also the tipping culture that has come to the fore, and it is not just casino companies sponsoring the streamers, but also the audience. Most of the streaming sites have a feature that allows the audience to “tip” the streamer. For example, on YouNow viewers can tip ‘bars’ and 1000 bars is equal to 10USD, and on Twitch viewers can subscribe to streamers for a few dollars per month, or hand out donations during the stream. Many streamers respond by giving the audience member a shout out, thanking them for their donation, and thus adding an extra element of interactivity and personalising the experience. This means that the audience is also technically funding the gambler, handing out free cash in the hope that their idol will offer them some recognition in return.
In addition to receiving recognition from respected players, there are a number of reasons why casino enthusiasts would want to watch others play online. With slots and other electronic games it might be to see how to unlock bonuses, or check the RTP of the game in real life before they put down their own cash. For card and table games, it could be to gain an insight into the strategy of the game and how to improve their own strategy. The people who stream the games are seasoned experts and will be quite familiar with the various video poker games, slots or table games.
Live streaming is an interesting phenomenon, and it certainly looks set to grow even bigger as its fan base expands and players recognise the benefits not only of playing themselves, but of watching others too.