Online casinos offer no shortage of real-money gambling options, with video slots comprising the most diverse genre of games. Software developers have spawned a bewildering variety of slot releases over the past decade, catering to reel spinners with thousands of titles with distinctive themes and features.
Industry leaders like Playtech and Evolution Gaming have upped the ante in recent years by introducing live dealer slots, a new breed of games that transforms reel spinning into a collective experience.
Live dealer slots boast higher levels of interactivity and are incredibly fun to play, no doubt about that. But are they worth it in terms of winning potential and long-term theoretical return? Continue reading to find out as we explore their features, strengths, and weaknesses. Also covered in this article are three of the best live slots you can play online for real money.
Live Dealer Slots vs. Conventional Slots
Some of you are perhaps vaguely familiar with this new subgenre of slots, while others are just learning about them for the very first time.
Either way, we are going to make a side-by-side comparison to shed more light on how live dealer slots work and how they differ from their randomly generated prototypes.
Here are some of the most distinguishing characteristics of conventional slots.
Playing them is a solitary experience. It is you against the slot machine.
Players determine the pace of the gameplay and can hit the spin button as often as they like.
Matching identical symbols on paylines or adjacent reels is almost always a prerequisite for winning.
The gameplay tends to become repetitive and dull after a while due to the lack of interaction with other players.
Conventional slots are available at both brick-and-mortar and online casinos.
Special features like free spins, bonus games, scattered and wild symbols are typically incorporated into the gameplay.
They are available in spades. Spinners can literally choose from thousands of different slot variants when playing online.
Players can try out the games for free with demo credits.
The most notable traits of live dealer slots include:
They offer a collective experience as unlimited players can participate and place bets simultaneously.
The action is broadcast live from dedicated studio environments via high-definition streams.
Trained live presenters host the games and provide commentary on the action.
The reels usually spin automatically every few seconds, although they are activated by the game hosts in some cases.
Players can interact with the hosts as well as with each other via the live chat feature built into the user interface.
You can see how much your fellow players have won after each live round.
Free spins, bonus games, and win multipliers are available in some cases, similarly to conventional slots.
They are not as abundant as their traditional counterparts. You can count the currently released live slots on the fingers of one hand.
Live slots are unavailable for free play. You must have a sufficient real-money balance in your account to participate in the live spinning action.
As you can see, here you are no longer battling it out against a faceless random number generator, although it is still used to determine the outcomes of the live spins.
You get the chance to share your achievements with fellow players, chat with them, and congratulate them on their big wins.
The chatty hosts further improve the gameplay, making it all the more exciting and engaging.
Gameplay and Features of Live Dealer Slots
Now that we have outlined the differences between the two types, we shall have a closer look at the gameplay in live dealer slots and examine the main features you will encounter while playing them. Let’s start with the gameplay.
Gameplay in Live Dealer Slots
The reels are activated either by the live presenters or spin automatically every few seconds.
Make sure you have a sufficient balance when you load your preferred live dealer slot. Unlike their conventional counterparts, live slots are unavailable for free play in demo mode.
Select how many spins in a row you want to participate in.
Select how much money you want to wager during a single spin. Feel free to bet the maximum if you are daring enough and your bankroll allows it.
After you set your spin conditions, you can join the game before the next round begins by pressing the start button.
The software updates your balance and the remaining number of your spins in real-time at the end of each round.
Main Features in Live Dealer Slots
1Main functionalities you will encounter when playing live slots
Live dealer slots are equipped with various great features whose primary purpose is to boost the level of interactivity, improve the gameplay, and allow players to customize it based on their personal preferences. Here are the main functionalities you will encounter when playing live slots. Many of them are unique to this subgenre, while others are available in standard slots as well.
2The Bet Limits panel
The Bet Limits panel provides concise information about the minimum and maximum wagers players can place during the game. The limits sometimes differ depending on your chosen bet type.
The Paytable informs players about the winning criteria, the payouts of different bets, and the special features incorporated into the games, including scatter symbols, wilds, and free spins. Depending on the specifics of the live slot, the paytable may also contain information about the paylines players can form winning combinations on.
4The Game History panel
The Game History panel shows the results of all rounds you have played, displaying your bets, wins, and losses.
5The Settings menu
The Settings menu allows you to tailor the gaming experience to your individual preferences. You usually have the option to hide the chat messages of fellow players and adjust the settings of the video stream, having a choice from low, medium, high, and high-definition quality. Additionally, you can turn off the game effects and studio sounds if you find them distracting.
6The Switch View
The Switch View feature enables you to change the camera view. This function is available in live dealer slots developed by Evolution Gaming where you can choose from the following three options – 3D View, Classic View, and Immersive View.
7The Live Chat box
The Live Chat box is where players can interact with each other as well as with the live presenters hosting the games. The presenters are very chatty and engaging. They gladly respond to comments and are happy to address any questions players might have. In most cases, players must add some funds to their balance to be able to chat, though.
8The Virtual Reality Mode
The Virtual Reality Mode is exclusive to some of the Evolution Gaming live dealer slots. The feature enables you to fully immerse yourself in the game and enjoy a 360-degree gaming experience but you need a tracked controller and a VR headset for this purpose. It works best with a broadband internet connection.
9The Autoplay feature
The Autoplay feature enables live slot players to go through a specific number of rounds without having to do anything. You simply adjust your bet per spin and you are good to go. Players can usually tackle the settings so that the feature deactivates after they trigger the bonus game or free spins.
10The Winners List
The Winners List displays the names of all participating players who have won during the last round along with the payouts they have pocketed. You can easily deactivate this feature from the game settings menu if you find it annoying.
Best Live Dealer Slots to Play Online
Live dealer slots are certainly not as abundant as their conventional cousins but scarcity further increases their appeal. SuperCasinoSites brings to your attention three of the best slot games hosted by live presenters you can play for real-money. Below, we examine their features, payouts, and theoretical return percentages to see how they compare to conventional slots in terms of winning potential.
|Live Buffalo Blitz Slot in Brief|
|Paylines||4,096 ways to win|
|Volatility Level||High volatility|
|Special Features||Free spins, wild multipliers, scatter symbols|
|Theoretical Return to Player||95.96%|
Leading gambling software studio Playtech released Live Buffalo Blitz in late 2019 to massive acclaim. The game was adapted for live play from the studio’s eponymous slot and largely uses the same rules. The live action takes place in a dedicated studio and features a real presenter who provides commentary and initiates the bonus games.
1Rules of Play
The live version of Buffalo Blitz offers six reels, four rows, and a whopping 4,096 winning ways. Players start by choosing how many spins they want to go through and selecting the amount they are willing to risk on those rounds. The six reels spin automatically during the main game. The live presenter initiates the free spins bonus by pressing an oversized red button positioned to the left of the massive reel grid.
Other than that, the live version plays exactly as the original Buffalo Blitz slot. Winning combinations must form from left to right, with the matching symbols landing in any position on adjacent reels.
The buffalo the game borrows its name from is the top paying symbol, awarding 300x your winning bet for six of a kind. The other high-paying symbols you will encounter here include the grizzly bear, a moose, a cougar, and a coon. The low payers are represented by playing cards 9 through ace.
Similarly to the original, the live version has several special features to offer, starting with the wild diamond that appears on reels 2 through 6. It substitutes all other symbols except for the scatter.
Two or more scatters landing simultaneously on the reels award a round of free spins initiated by the presenter. The number of bonus rounds depends on the number of the triggering scatters. It is possible to trigger more free spins during the feature.
|Triggering Scatters||Free Spins||Retrigger Scatters||Additional Free Spins|
|3 scatters||5 free spins||2 scatters||5 free spins|
|4 scatters||15 free spins||3 scatters||8 free spins|
|5 scatters||25 free spins||4 scatters||15 free spins|
|6 scatters||100 free spins||5 scatters||25 free spins|
|–||–||6 scatters||100 free spins|
During the bonus feature, the wild diamond can double, triple, or quintuple your profits with randomly awarded multipliers.
3Theoretical Return to Player
Live Buffalo Blitz comes with a theoretical return of 95.96%, which is to say playing the game will cost approximately four cents per every dollar wagered. The return percentage coincides with that of the original version of the slot.
Live 9 Pots of Gold
|Live 9 Pots of Gold Slot in Brief|
|Software Provider||OnAir Entertainment|
|Paylines||20 fixed paylines|
|Volatility Level||Medium volatility|
|Maximum Payout||2,000x the bet|
|Special Features||Free spin wheel, wild symbol, scatter symbol|
|Theoretical Return to Player||96.24%|
Microgaming fans will probably recognize this one since it was adapted for live play from the studio’s popular video slot release of the same name. The live version is courtesy of OnAir Entertainment, however. It poses a great option for players who dig games with Irish luck themes.
The live edition is a seamless combination of the original video slot and a live game show, enabling fans to fully immerse themselves in the gaming experience. Chroma key technology is used to create the lush clover-filled backdrop behind the five spinning reels.
1Rules of Play
The live edition of 9 Pots of Gold is pretty straightforward in terms of gameplay and rules. You start by adjusting the number of spins you wish to play in a row and selecting a bet amount per single spin.
Your objective is to form winning symbol combinations on one or more of the twenty fixed paylines. The game uses a standard grid with five reels and three rows, the only difference being it is hosted by a chatty live presenter. Winning combinations pay from left to right.
2Special Features and Theoretical Return
The pot symbols are scattered and can land on any of the five reels. Three or more pots reward players with cash prizes, with the payouts being multiplied by the winning wager. The amount you can potentially collect depends on the number of scattered pots you land simultaneously.
|Number of Scattered Pots||Payout|
|9 pots||2,000x the bet|
|8 pots||500x the bet|
|7 pots||100x the bet|
|6 pots||40x the bet|
|5 pots||15x the bet|
|4 pots||5x the bet|
|3 pots||1x the bet (even money)|
A second scatter is included in the game to trigger the bonus free spin wheel. The free spins scatter must appear concurrently on the second, third, and fourth reels to unlock the special feature.
A wheel appears on the screen and players must spin it to determine the number of their free spins and the value of their win multipliers. Retriggering the feature is possible. A wild mushroom symbol is also featured in the live edition of the slot, which has an overall theoretical return of 96.24%.
Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt
|Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt in Brief|
|Software Provider||Evolution Gaming|
|Volatility Level||Medium to high|
|Special Features||Prize Drop feature, Re-Drop feature, multipliers|
|Theoretical Return to Player||96.56% optimal RTP|
Leading software studio Evolution Gaming made waves in the online gambling community with the 2021 release of Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt, a unique game show adapted from the massively popular video slot Gonzo’s Quest, following the acquisition of NetEnt.
Everyone’s favorite conquistador Gonzo comes to life as an augmented virtual character to assist the live presenter in hosting the show. Another significant fact about this release is that it is the first live game show to support play in virtual reality mode.
1Rules of Play
Evolution Gaming has deviated from the original Gonzo slot as the live host-led version features a giant wall containing seventy stones. The objective of players is to try and guess which stones on the wall contain hidden treasures.
Each person can select up to twenty picks per round. Six different types of stones are incorporated into the game, with payout values of 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x, 20x, and 65x. Stones of greater value are less likely to show up.
2Prize Drop and Re-Drop Features
The software shuffles the seventy stones on the wall but prize values remain hidden. Players must select stones before the built-in timer runs out and can make as many picks as they have originally selected. The animated Gonzo then turns a key to trigger the Prize Drop feature whereby bonus prize values ranging from 3 to 100 will appear on top of the wall.
The prize values fall down, stopping at random stones and increasing the prizes hidden under them. Multipliers can further boost the potential winnings two to ten times. Additionally, there is a Re-Drop symbol that can activate a new Prize Drop, making it possible for the same stone to receive multiple bonus prizes and multipliers.
The stones’ values are revealed at the end of the round so that all players can see the results of the treasure hunt. The bonus values are then added to the standard payouts of the stones and another round commences. A single stone may receive a maximum boost of 20,000x during the Prize Drop phase of the game.
3Payouts and Theoretical Return
The live adaptation of NetEnt’s classic slot is most definitely worth checking out as the maximum payout you can pocket per single round reaches a whopping one million dollars or the currency equivalent. The standard payouts players can pocket depend on the type of stones they have decided to bet on. The rarer a stone is, the more it pays as you can see in the paytable below.
|Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt Paytable and Winning Probabilities of Stones|
|Stone Type||Number of Stones on Wall||Payout||Winning Probability|
|Gray||27||1 to 1||38.60%|
|Yellow||20||2 to 1||28.60%|
|Purple||12||4 to 1||17.14%|
|Green||7||8 to 1||10.00%|
|Blue||3||20 to 1||4.30%|
|Red||1||65 to 1||1.43%|
The theoretical return percentages vary depending on the stone type you decide to hunt for, as you can see below. With that in mind, the live edition is capable of producing optimal theoretical return of up to 96.56%. It is safe to say the live version outperforms the original in terms of long-term winning potential since the standard slot yields an RTP of 95.97% only.
- Gray Stone (1x) – 96.42% RTP
- Yellow Stone (2x) – 96.51% RTP
- Purple Stone (4x) – 96.35% RTP
- Green Stone (8x) – 96.56% RTP
- Blue Stone (20x) – 96.55% RTP
- Red Stone (65x) – 96.52% RTP
Live Dealer Slots - Strengths and Weaknesses
So should you play live dealer slots? It is entirely up to you to answer this question since it all comes down to personal preferences at the end of the day. These games are highly unlikely to appeal to players who prefer classic casino mainstays like baccarat or blackjack. With that said, we believe those of you who are already keen on reel spinning will definitely find live slots refreshing.