If you’re used to playing bingo and/or slots you may have noticed a new tab in the lobby called Game Shows and be wondering, what’s all that about? Or perhaps you’ve never ventured into the Live Casino part of the lobby because you thought it was all about roulette and blackjack? Think again! Live casino game shows have taken UK bingo and slot sites by storm and are very much here to stay.
- What are live casino game shows?
- Why are they called game shows?
- Who makes live casino game shows?
- Types of live casino game show
- Why play live casino game shows?
- Where to play live casino game shows
What are live casino game shows?
For a quick insight into what a casino game show is, let’s start with the difference between RNG casino games and live casino games and take roulette as an example. If you play RNG roulette, there’s no actual roulette wheel – it’s a computer simulation. If you play live roulette, you see the game broadcast from a studio where a real person is spinning a real roulette wheel. You can place your bets just as you would if you were playing in a bricks and mortar casino, but you do it remotely.
In a live game show, you have a similar setup with a real live person in a studio and some kind of physical machinery such as a giant wheel or lottery machine BUT there is almost always CGI involved as well, especially if the game has a bonus round. Again, you play by placing bets remotely on the outcome. The games are generally quite a bit more complex than roulette which makes them much more entertaining.
Just as in roulette, there’s the opportunity to use different betting strategies as in most of these games you can choose which outcomes to bet on and how many chips to bet on each, but if you don’t want to be bothered with that you can just put one chip on everything and enjoy the show. Chip values start at 10p.
Why are they called game shows?
It’s a nod to the long running American TV show Wheel of Fortune which features a wheel (and live host!) very similar to the ones you see in live casino game shows such as Dream Catcher. In a live casino game show, the host’s job is primarily to engage and entertain the players; in some games they do also spin the wheel or whatever but in other cases they are just commenting on what’s going on with the game mechanic.
If you like watching this kind of thing on TV, you’ll probably also enjoy game shows.
Who makes live casino game shows?
In the UK, there are three main games providers currently offering live casino game shows.
- Evolution, who got the whole thing started way back in 2017 with the original spin the wheel game, Dream Catcher.
- Playtech, who have experimented with live multi player slot games and gamified versions of roulette and other table games.
- Pragmatic Play, who came a bit later to the party but are rapidly catching up in numbers of games.
Less well known are OnAir Entertainment, whose StreamIcon version of Gameburger’s popular slot game 9 Pots of Gold was released in September 2022, and Ezugi, whose live version of Keno spices up a simple ball drawing game.
Types of live casino game show
Spin the wheel
In a spin the wheel game, the live host spins a giant wheel with numbers on it and you place bets on the outcome. You can bet on as many numbers as you like. When the wheel stops, everyone who had a bet on the number the wheel stopped on wins that multiple of their bet.
To make this rather simple type of game more entertaining and more engaging, most spin the wheel games have bonus rounds. They way this works is that some segments on the wheel have the names of bonus rounds instead of numbers. For example, Sweet Bonanza Candyland has bonus rounds called Candy Drop, Sweet Spins and Bubble Surprise. When the wheel lands on a bonus round, that bonus round plays and if you’ve placed a bet on it, you’ll win whatever multiplier of that bet the bonus round ends up scoring.
Sweet Bonanza Candyland also has some segments marked Sugar Bomb which you can’t place a bet on; if the wheel lands on Sugar Bomb a multiplier of 2x to 10x is applied to all other segments and the wheel is spun again. You can pay an extra 25% when you place your bets to enable the Sugar Bomb Booster, which doubles the multiplier you get on the other outcomes if the wheel lands on a Sugar Bomb segment.
Adding bonus rounds to the basic spin the wheel concept was an absolute masterstroke and is certainly one of the causes of live casino game shows becoming so popular. Indeed, it’s a game of this type (Evolution’s Crazy Time) that regularly attracts the largest number of players (typically more than 10,000). Lots of players only bet on the bonus round segments!
In a live draw game, there’s a bingo or lottery machine centre stage instead of a wheel of fortune. In games like Mega Ball (where it’s the main attraction) and Deal Or No Deal The Big Draw (where it’s a side game), rather than betting on outcomes you play with a set of what look very much like bingo cards, and win by completing lines.
Monopoly Big Baller is a live draw game with bonus rounds. You can buy cards and/or bet on either or both of the bonus rounds. It’s perhaps the most visually exciting game show title yet, with masses of CGI extending to the boat the host travels around on as well as the huge 3D board game seen in the bonus rounds.
Evolution’s Cash or Crash (see below) is also technically a live draw game but players barely notice that as they’re so absorbed with deciding when to cash out.
Live slots is an idea that hasn’t really caught on in the UK to the degree it was expected to. This is almost certainly because Playtech have (perhaps over zealously) implemented the ban on slots autoplay (which took effect in October 2021) on their live slots titles and this has had a negative effect on the player experience. Why?
- In live slots, everyone that buys in plays the same spins on the giant slot machine and wins or loses in the same way at the same time.
- With autoplay, all you need to do is to select your stake level and the number of spins you want to buy in for.
- Without autoplay, you have to play each spin individually.
- This is not a problem on a regular slot game as you just hit spin again when you’re ready. But with live slots, the next spin will take place whether you’re ready or not and in order to buy in, you’ve got to hit the button in a very short window.
- Having to concentrate on that means you miss out on the social experience as you can’t pay much attention to what the live host is saying or what’s going on in the player chat.
- And then there’s the extreme frustration of missing the moment and seeing a spin you intended to play trigger the bonus round.
It’s no surprise, then, that UK players seem to prefer the regular versions of these slot games to the live versions.
If you do want to try live slots, there’s three options:
- Buffalo Blitz Live by Playtech. There was also a live version of God of Storms but it no longer seems to be available, and there’s Everybody’s Jackpot Live which is slot based but has a number of bonus rounds. Playtech’s latest live slot Big Bad Wolf has a special UK version which is basically just the regular slot game with a chat window.
- 9 Pots of Gold StreamIcon by OnAir. Other StreamIcon games were reportedly in the pipeline but none have reached the UK. OnAir have plainly taken the view that a live slot game is live casino and not slots as they haven’t (yet) disabled autoplay
- Extra Chilli Epic Spins by Evolution. This 2023 release gets round the autoplay problem by basing the gameplay around cycles of 5 spins; you buy in for one cycle at a time.
The future of slots in the live casino arena is probably not as live slots, but as slot game inspired bonus rounds in other types of game show (for example the Sweet Spins bonus round in Sweet Bonanza Candyland and the Magic Reels bonus rounds in the Entain exclusive Well Well Well Live) which play out without the need to mash the Spin button.
There are a few live casino gameshows which don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.
- Boom City by Pragmatic Play. This is a dice game with a 6 x 6 matrix. You bet on up to 6 possible outcomes in much the same way as you do on a spin the wheel game, but you don’t get to see the distribution of outcomes before you bet and they can vary from round to round. The giant dice are then rolled to see which square wins; if you’ve bet on what’s on the square you win a multiplier or a bonus round, unless the dice land on Bust in which case you win nothing.
- Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt by Evolution. This is themed on the classic slot game Gonzo’s Quest and is played on a 7 x 10 array of blocks. As in so many other gameshows you have 6 outcomes to bet on; the difference in Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt is that rather than just one of them happening, any combination or even all of them can happen depending on your number of picks. After you’ve placed your chips you choose how many picks you want to make (1-20, one set of chips per pick) and after that some random extra multipliers may be applied. The symbols on the blocks are revealed and for each pick, if you bet on that symbol you receive your stake back plus that symbol’s multiplier.
- Cash or Crash by Evolution. This is a crash game based around what’s spat out of a simple lottery machine which starts out with 19 green balls, 1 gold ball and 8 red balls, but you may not really pick up on that as the concept and graphics (a blimp that rises through levels of a fantasy city) are so stunning. Cash or Crash requires decision making from the player at a different stage than most other live casino game shows; usually, the decision you have to make is which outcomes to bet on and how many chips to place on each (and you can always just use Bet All to put one chip on everything), but in Cash or Crash you place a single bet at the start of the game and have to make a swift decision each time a green ball is drawn between Continue, Take Half and Take All. There is a recommended strategy in the game help files but it’s quite complex.
None of these other types of game have really caught on to the extent that the spin the wheel and live draw games have. Perhaps players find them just that bit too complicated.
Why play live casino game shows?
Live casino games shows are an extremely appealing alternative to online bingo, for a number of reasons:
- They are engaging and visually interesting, with lots going on.
- You still get the sense of community as there’s a live host and you can chat with other players.
- Each game takes a while to play. It’s not like a slot spin where it’s all over very quickly.
- You can choose the stake level that suits you and still have just as much chance of winning as a big spender.
- Your chance of winning isn’t related to the number of people in the room.
- The Return To Player is much better than bingo. Live casino game shows typically have RTP of around 96% whereas for bingo it’s normally 80% or below.
In terms of sheer entertainment value for money, these games are pretty well unbeatable. Essentially they are a mash-up of the best bits of roulette (placing chips), slots (the bonus round) and bingo (community) with a huge side order of sparkle and pizazz. No wonder they are so popular!
Where to play live casino game shows
Here’s a few of our favourite places to play that have a great selection of game shows. Enjoy!