Live dealer games are arguably the fastest-growing sector of the online casino industry. The fact that they blend elements of land-based and online gaming together means they also combine aspects of the psychology behind the two, too.
Playing Online: Pros and Cons
Players have reported that they enjoy gaming online because they have more variety and choice, the value for money is better, and it is much more convenient. In addition to all this, they have total anonymity.
What is disliked about playing online, in general, is that it doesn’t feel very authentic. Without social interaction it can also be isolating. To a lesser extent there are concerns about safety and digital transactions.
Live Games are the Perfect Balance
Playing in a live casino setting usually involves chatting and interaction with the host and fellow tablemates, so it is considerably less isolating. The conversations and sophisticated video feeds also make the gameplay feel much more lifelike.
At the same time, the convenience and economical advantages of online gaming are still in place. And as technology keeps improving, the range of this form of entertainment is growing a lot bigger. For many players, the good parts of Internet-based play can still be enjoyed, while the tedious parts have been removed.
Live Dealer Anonymity
Crucially, live games still allow for total anonymity. In a sense, players are in the world of casinos, but not of it. There is no fear of the stigma that can be associated with gambling, and no worries for beginners about embarrassing mistakes.
Social filters are also removed to a large extent, because no one knows who anyone else is. Things that would not be imaginable in face-to-face contexts are often said and done here. This can lead to seriously irresponsible or even uncontrollable gaming behaviour.
Social Competition in Live Gaming
The other important issue in live games is that players are interacting with each other a lot more. There is plenty of friendly banter and discussion about strategy, but there can also be a lot of competitiveness in these conversations.
Erving Goffman coined the phrase Deprivation Compensation to explain why so many individuals look to gambling as an outlet to express competitive impulses. He accepted the sociology-based theory that people still have the competitiveness that served human beings well in earlier times, but that modern living has made it redundant and has cut off its natural outlets.
Gambling creates an ideal situation for competing against others. In conventional online situations this is lost, but with live dealer games you’ll be dealing with other players in a much more direct way. The same could be said for social casinos that use leader boards and challenges in everything from Pokies to Poker.
Using Psychological Insights
Doctor Mark Griffiths, psychologist and avid gambler, has done considerable research into why live dealer games are appealing, and how much they foster a sense of competition. He postulates that this instinctive drive to defeat other people or at least do better than them could be what keeps someone playing and betting, even when this has dire financial or social consequences.
In addition to the pleasurable escape that gambling addicts are said to chase, this innate need to go head-to-head with others can obviously be very destructive. But understanding its psychological underpinnings makes it easier to manage the situation, keeping gameplay fun and yourself safe. If you notice an ultra-competitive urge coming over you while you’re playing a live game, for instance, it might be time to take a break. Chasing a win in a casino, in any context, is never a good idea and if you step back for a bit, the game will still be there when you are ready to try again.