Imagine this: You’ve just been dealt a straight flush and you’re in one of the most glamourous casinos in the world, playing against the big boys. You are just about to reveal your cards and the suspense is palpable. You take a deep breath, here goes nothing… Just before the showdown commences, you’d gotten so wrapped up in the game you forgot that you’d ordered an Old Fashioned…
Reading that, you might have assumed you were somewhere in Vegas – at the Bellagio, or Caesars Palace perhaps. Now imagine if you were actually at home after finishing work – it’s 7pm on a Wednesday, in an average London suburb, and the kids are either tucked up in bed or out with friends. Welcome to virtual reality, the future of online casinos the tech giants are aiming for. In this article, we will outline the latest developments in online gaming and what to look out for in 2018. We’ll also take a look at the new online lotteries that are proving popular, and how virtual reality lottery games are set to be the next big thing.
The future of online casinos and virtual reality at home and on mobile
We’ve already seen the release of virtual reality gear such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive, Valve’s SteamVR and Sony’s PlayStation VR. But what’s next on the agenda? The world’s first 3D virtual reality online casino, SlotsMillion, is now available to players in the UK, and features over 700 slot games from 26 different developers. Games can be played on tablets and smartphones with iOS, Android or Windows operating systems. Users with an Oculus Rift headset can visit the SlotsMillion VR Casino, which is located on the top floor of a skyscraper and features a lounge, bar and of course a winning selection of slot machines. Another site, Casino VR Poker, allows gamers to play Texas hold’em with other players around the world. Casino VR Poker is available on Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Daydream. Players have access to a whole host of fancy casinos and can play against real-time players, represented by avatars that mimic their movements. Spacial voice chatting and sound are also integrated – great for if you want to socialise on your ‘night out’ at the casino. Unlike SlotsMillion, gamers do not make any actual winnings, but this will be the next big development to keep an eye out for…
Obstacles facing virtual reality online casinos
The main stumbling block in the way of virtual reality technologies is that most people don’t have the software capabilities at home. The average desktop computer is simply not sophisticated enough to be able to handle VR. For example, a typical desktop video frame rate is 60 frames per second (fps), but for a smooth VR gaming experience, the frame rate would need to be at least 90fps. The cost of virtual reality gear may also be too expensive for some. For example, even the basic Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset currently retails at around £399. More people need to buy VR technology for companies to want to keep investing in research and the development of new formats. This is why online casino giants like SlotsMillion are focusing on mobile – most people already own an iPhone or Android smartphone so won’t need to fork out on new gear, meaning uptake and return on investment will be bigger.
Augmented Reality (AR) – which differs from VR by “painting” graphics on to live video from the phone’s camera, like Pokemon Go – is taking the lead, but has some key similarities, in that both provide gamers with a more stimulating and interactive experience. Let’s take a look at the two now.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) makes the user’s view of the real world more meaningful by allowing interaction with it. VR is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating vision and hearing. So to sum up, virtual reality offers a digital recreation of a real life setting, while augmented reality adds virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.
iOS and augmented reality
Apple’s recently-released iPhone 8 and iPhone X have taken AR to new levels with iOS ARKi. The power of the new camera and A11 bionic chip eliminates the need for headsets or extra equipment, overlaying the faces and names of players and game stats over live sports broadcasts such as a baseball game. In response, Google has now released its own augmented reality technology, ARCore.
The future of virtual reality arcades
An easy way for consumers to make use of VR technology and play at virtual reality casinos, without having to invest in new gear (like an Oculus Rift headset or data glove), is to play in a VR arcade, such as DNA in London. These could play a significant part in the future of online casinos, with the opening of similar establishments for virtual reality gambling. At DNA popular games include Everest VR, where you experience what it’s like to climb Mount Everest, and Cloudlands VR Minigolf, set in a golf course in the sky, where you can play mini golf against other players in real time. Visitors can also experience other interactive virtual reality programs such as Google Earth VR. While at DNA, players are separated from each other with soft walls to avoid accidents and collisions, mobile phone-maker HTC has developed a system that projects a hologram into the VR game to stop players walking into walls.
A global trend
One forecast predicts that by 2020 the online gambling market will be worth 59.79 billion U.S. dollars. Online gambling is now legal in most countries in the EU as well as some provinces in Canada and certain countries in the Caribbean, among them Antigua and Barbuda, which is now one of the world’s largest online gambling service providers. Online gaming has been legal there since 1994, and is whitelisted by the UK Gambling Commission.
Gambling Commission industry statistics show that between April 2015 and March 2016 online gambling operators generated a Gross Gambling Yield of £4.5 billion, making online gambling the single largest gambling sector in Britain. Over the same period, £3.4bn was made by the National Lottery, £3.3bn by high street betting shops, and £1bn by traditional land-based casinos. As the online gambling market continues to grow, it is clear that new technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, will continue to develop.
VR and AR may be used to enhance online lotteries in the future with technological developments and advanced formats. Playing the Lottery Online Versus Offline already has many benefits, but with virtual reality there will be even more reason to play games online! Instant win games and slots and casino games, are even more thrilling when viewed in augmented or virtual reality. One move made by online casinos to encourage the uptake of the new format, by those used to visiting a real-life casino, is the generous deposit bonus offers being given out by these sites. Online lotteries have followed suit by advertising offers and hefty deposit bonuses. Online lotteries are now offering fun casino-style games and bingo tournaments, to attract players, like Health Bingo, where 20% of profits are donated to health related Good Causes in the UK.
There are many clear advantages of virtual reality formats, such as virtual reality casinos which can detect a player’s presence in the game. It is thought that with more immersive and life-like games, gamblers may be encouraged to spend more money. The social aspect of virtual reality is also strong, as players can enjoy chatting at the casino from the comfort of their own home. Constant improvements are taking place in the realms of virtual reality and augmented reality and this technology will be key to the future of online casinos and online lotteries.