Virtual Reality and Online Gambling?

February 11th, 2019

Could virtual reality and online gambling happen together?

The last few years have seen a decisive shift by major tech companies into the world of Virtual Reality. Sony introduced its PlayStation headset, wowing gamers with titles like Astro Bot and Farpoint.

Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for the not insignificant sum of $2 billion and while some do not believe the investment has paid off, others believe the social media giant is playing the long game – that soon, VR will enter into all aspects of our lives, including gambling. Let’s take a look at some of the ways VR is already impacting online casinos and what the future may hold for the technology.

Virtual Reality Gambling

The gambling industry has been ogling VR since its boom in 2016, when several rival headsets were launched. Industry leaders such as NetEnt started working on software around about the same time. It adapted one of its most popular titles, Gonzo’s Quest, for a VR environment.

Per Eriksson, CEO of NetEnt, says: “We firmly believe that VR has a given place in the future of online gaming, based on our research and the trends that we monitor. We remain focused on delivering the ultimate entertainment experience by taking this first step towards developing our first real-money VR slot. This is a milestone for NetEnt and the gaming industry.”

Virtual Reality in Casinos

One of Net Ent’s rivals, IGT, took a slightly different approach to VR. It partnered with Boyd Gaming to bring its VR platform The Virtual Zone to the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Fusing gambling with gamification, two-player teams went head-to-head in a series of tournaments using HTC’s Vive VR technology. Similar to a poker tournament, each team paid an entry fee, with the top daily team walking away with a cash prize.

Creating Casinos in VR

Rather than bringing VR to brick-and-mortar casinos, other development companies are looking to recreate a casino in the virtual world. Players would be able to wander through the doors, past the banks of slots and sit at a casino table. Unlike live casino broadcasts, which offer a limited level of immersion, this would be a fully immersive experience, allowing players to switch between games in real time.

One of the greatest advantages VR holds over current online gaming is social interaction. In the same way that groups of gamers can chat while playing multi-player games on Xbox or PlayStation, VR would allow players to see and hear one another, as well as the dealer. The same would be true of bingo, another game that has had a strong level of social interaction at its core.

Beyond Reality

While companies are striving to offer an authentic casino experience through the magic of VR, others are looking towards video games for their inspiration. Instead of appearing as yourself in this virtual casino, players would be able to create colourful avatars. In the same way video game players can buy or earn points to further customise their character or vehicle, VR casinos would be able to apply these same principles, possibly tying them to existing loyalty point schemes.

The other side of this is the virtual environment. Going back to the bingo example: instead of creating a regular bingo hall, software designers would be able to create themed rooms, allowing players to play bingo on a sunny beach, in Buckingham palace, or even on the moon. However, it may be a few years before VR technology, interfaces and streaming speeds allow for such extravagant plans.