Nobody gambles like Australians gamble. More than fifty countries have a greater population than Australia but no country has more slot machines – or “pokies” as the Aussies know them, a friendly reminder of the early days of gaming machines when most were of the video poker variety. The gambling participation rate on the great island continent is over 80%.
Even though gambling is baked into the Australian Zeitgeist land-based casinos were only made legal in 1973. Since online gambling came along scarcely two decades later it seems logical to assume that the clear-eyed modern thinking that brought about that legislation would still be intact for Internet players. Not quite.
After observing online gambling in its infancy the Australian government passed the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). Fines with numbers like $220,000 jumped out of the small print buried in the law. But the IGA was not targeted at the everyday Aussie punter. Instead the Australian Commonwealth Parliament was leveling its regulatory sights at online operators. The Australian government was just looking out for its own financial stake in the existing land-based casinos.
Sine the passage of the IGA government-approved casinos in Australian states have thrived and more are planned each year. The official statement justifying this expansion of new gambling palaces is that they are aimed at the deep pockets of Asian high-rollers even though international visitors make up scarcely five percent of Australian casino business. Meanwhile, as it becomes evident that online casinos will not spell the end of land-based casinos in gambling-mad Australia the restrictions imposed by the IGA are loosening. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been blackjack players.
In 2014 Australians got the opportunity to leave random generated numbers behind and play online blackjack with live dealers for the first time, running tables just like the ones at Crown Melbourne or Star Sydney. Any time of day the fancy struck a live table with real Australian money stakes was open. During the games gamblers can interact with any of the other players, up to six of whom can join a game. If a question or dispute arises a working pit-boss is on hand to settle affairs. There are no restrictions for Aussie residents and no special Live Dealer accounts to join. The only requirement is to download special software.
Several Aussie casinos, Royal Vegas, All Slots, Spin Palace and 7 Sultans among them, obtain this specialized software from online gaming behemoth Microgaming to power their live casinos. The dealers – almost exclusively female – are promoted as the best in the business and players can pick games with “lucky” dealers – croupiers post such information as birth dates, lucky numbers and zodiac signs so players can align with those dispensing the proper karma. There is also an option to have the croupiers dress as Playboy bunnies. Additional tables auto-generate when live dealer tables become full.
Blackjack players are a notoriously superstitious lot and Microgaming Live caters to these whims with a Hot Streak table to track players enjoying consecutive wins. Other players can then choose to bet on a fellow player against the dealer with the Bet Behind feature. In addition to side bets on other players the Change Table feature enables play in more than one game at a time. This maximum-action feature is advisable only for online twenty-one players with a strong Internet connection.
With Microgaming Live blackjack the hands are dealt from a shoe with eight decks and blackjacks pay 3:2. The dealer must stand on all 17s and does not deal a hole card and so does not check immediately for a game-ending blackjack before all original wagers and splitting and doubling bets are made. Minimum bet is 25 Australian dollars and the maximum table stakes are $300 a hand.
As for the live casino blackjack experience the quality of the live feed can be controlled and the dealer’s voice and other card room sound effects can be muted at any time. If the video lags behind the action with Microgaming Live can easily be refreshed. All Australian dollar banking options can be accessed hassle-free through the live casino interface.
Australian blackjack players need not limit themselves to Aussie live online casinos. The IGA does not prohibit accessing and using interactive gambling services; it does, however, make it illegal for operators to advertise real-money gambling opportunities to Australian citizens. On this matter however enforcement by the government has been as energetic as a stuffed koala bear.
For offshore operators, the ardor of the Australian gambler is too strong to ignore. Although licensed in Curacao and managed out of London, England the G’Day Casino is Australian-themed from its kangaroo-crossing logo to its Aussie-flavored promotions. To help jumpstart its entry into the online casino wars G’Day casino offered not only an unlimited 100% matching deposit but if that deposit was more than $100 threw in a slab (24-pack) of Victoria Bitter beer, the nation’s best-selling brew.
The live G’Day blackjack game is powered by Ezugi interactive casinos. Their table is a seven-seater with Bet Behind and game history options. There are plenty of ways to put down side bets and play multiple games or tables. Players can set the controls for live music or engage in live chat. Minimum bets are a more welcoming $5 and high rollers can still play for $300 a hand. Game play follows the American version of blackjack with the dealer checking for a game-ending blackjack on the hole card.
Like all live online blackjack tables, whether based in Australia or just patronized by Aussies, the real casino atmosphere and authentic gameplay are as close as you can get to a land-based casino without leaving home. Plus they come with welcome bonuses that the real casinos can not approximate. And oversized card will be dictating results, not machine-generated random numbers.