Given that casinos have already transitioned from physical venues to online lounges, it is only reasonable to wonder what the next big step might be. Those already deep into playing casino games online will likely know of the recent revolution in ‘live dealer’ games. But are we only a few short steps away from entering the first fully virtual reality (VR) casino? Could the next big gaming lounges be heading to the metaverse?
Why VR gambling could be huge
Right now, online casinos provide a variety of opportunities to players from the comfort of their own PCs, laptops, and smartphones. But there’s still something of a disconnect. Playing games online and making bets at sportsbooks on the web is convenient but heading to physical casinos and venues still proves to be a major draw.
With digital realms already developing thanks to the continued adoption of blockchain technology, we will likely see VR betting becoming more and more commonplace. One of the major draws for VR casino lounges will, of course, be the fact that players can enjoy games such as roulette and craps as if they are at a real casino – without having to leave their home.
Casino gaming through metaverse platforms could therefore provide the ultimate convenience, as well as a whole new level of excitement. In fact, there are already a handful of casinos based in-metaverse that are providing the basis of gaming to come. Decentraland, for example, already hosts separate casino lounges and an array of popular games that you would normally expect to find in Vegas.
The technology is already available, but it may take years of development and confidence-building to help bring mass audiences into the metaverse.
Will VR casino games overtake traditional online games?
As it stands, online casino gaming is very much ‘the norm’, though this has not been an overnight success. It has taken approximately two to three decades for online casino gaming to fully normalise. Some of the biggest names in online casino game design, such as Microgaming, for example, started life in the 1990s. With faster internet speeds and mass availability sweeping across the globe in the decade that followed, online roulette, blackjack and slots are now common everyday pursuits.
The argument stands, of course, that VR betting may take some time to fully ‘integrate’ with society at large. Virtual reality is nothing new. However, even now, it is still considered a niche pursuit. Movements from those working to bring Decentraland to life, for example, are helping to lead the way. Mark Zuckerberg and Meta are at the forefront of attempts to establish virtual worlds and landscapes as part of our everyday lives.
Crucially, we could be heading towards a gaming and social landscape not unlike that shown in Ready Player One. Casino-goers could easily put on a VR headset and enter a stylish gaming lounge within minutes. However, for this to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, the technology involved needs considerable development.
Therefore, it won’t be surprising to see ‘basic’ online casino gambling and betting persist for some time to come. VR betting concerns will need to be addressed in full before it can emerge as the dominant force in the industry.
What are some of the concerns regarding VR gambling?
As mentioned, the chief concern regarding VR betting and casino play revolves around technology. While blockchain provides the technology necessary to decentralise currency in play, VR casinos are a while away from the sophisticated, realistic lounges many people expect them to be. Currently, VR lounges are impressive enough in their functionality, but it will be some time before they are ‘confused’ for the real deal. This is less of a performance concern, of course, but one of marketing.
What’s more technologically concerning, however, is power consumption. Traditionally, new technology largely starts out consuming more energy initially and less as time goes by, as hardware becomes more refined. Consider, for example, the power drawn from energy-hungry PC towers and CRT monitors of the mid-1990s compared to the MacBook Pros of today.
Therefore, early VR technology – that which allows entire casino spaces to fully upload to the metaverse – is likely to be very power-greedy. The more sophisticated and more in-demand such lounges and casino spaces are, the more money and resources it will take to keep them running. Therefore, wide-scale planning is essential – casinos that wish to leap into the metaverse will likely need to plan for extensive server support and hardware investment just to keep it running on a 24/7 basis.
There is also the concern that metaverse immersion and cryptocurrencies will go hand in hand, leaving fiat or traditional money behind. The very nature of a VR casino will likely demand digital currency. However, as crypto markets remain volatile, and still niche in some corners of the world, many prospective players (and business investors) may require additional confidence to ‘get involved’.
However, these are all concerns that may diminish as the years go by. While VR has been shaky in some respects over the decades (Nintendo’s disastrous Virtual Boy launch in the 1990s springs to mind), it appears to be here to stay.
In the here and now, while metaverse casino gaming and VR betting are already emerging, it will likely be some time before it ‘swallows’ online and traditional casino play for good. The metaverse’s formative years are likely to bring a host of interesting ideas to the table, all of which will require careful planning to help move betting and gambling to its next point of evolution.
In the meantime, it is perfectly feasible to explore VR casinos ahead of a prospective ‘boom’. There are already experiences available where players can throw dice and picks up cards without having to physically head to Vegas. For the time being, however, online gambling and casino play will likely remain popular until VR is at a point where confidence is high, and its technology is sustainable.