Virtual reality may seem like something straight out of science fiction. But the truth is that it is already a part of our milieu. Augmented reality was already a big thing in gaming before the tech industry became enamoured by it, and now we have the casino following up closely.
The possibilities are endless here. You can go from playing simple slots to a high rolling roulette player in a matter of seconds. Or you could simply waltz around the virtual halls, survey the scenery, play a few games, and even chat up a few people, all from the comfort of your home. The distinction between real and virtual is forgotten, albeit until you have the VR headsets on.
Trust the casinos to not miss a beat. In the 80s, when arcade gaming was making an entry, the gambling houses quickly installed video slots and video poker machines. Then when the internet beckoned, they switched to online casinos.
The next step is VR. Technology, especially the wearable kind, has become an integral part of our lives; and business enterprises the world over have been quick to take it on and offer something unique to the end consumer.
The casinos are on track to do just the same. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in a true-blue casino experience, where you can waltz around lavish halls, observe players hitting the highs and lows at a table, or even enjoy the view from a rooftop bar.
Online casinos have made a big splash with their easy accessibility, and they are here to stay for a while. But VR casinos offer one element that their online cousins cannot - the social factor.
When you play your favourite games on a website, it is just you and the computer screen. There is nothing wrong with that; there are players who choose to play in solitude. However, we are after all social animals and this is where virtual reality can capitalise. Now you no longer need play in isolation. A live round of poker can be played with others from all around the world. You may even be able to pit your skills against the very best; think Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey. The point we’re trying to make is that the buzz and vibe of a real casino can be easily replicated with a VR headset.
Speaking of which, imagine experiencing the Caesar’s Palace at Las Vegas or the glitzy casinos of Macau without having to leave your front room. All you have to do is turn on your headset and you will be transported. In a way, VR could become an extension of the more established casinos, allowing players to experience their premium services from any point in the globe. An aspect that points to not only the promise but the vast potential of virtual reality.
For all the talk of a new dawn, VR casinos have still some way to go before they can realise their true potential. Software development is still in the stages of trial and error. Some players in one of the prototype VR casinos were unnerved by the sight of not whole people but simply floating heads as avatars.
Then you have the graphics, which although rendered in HD, still resemble virtual figures more than real human beings. As yet, online VR casino sites have not hit the mainstream.
The good news is that the casinos are learning quickly, and so are the software developers. It won’t be long before a virtual environment and a real environment will be impossible to distinguish between.
The VR industry is set to take off in a big way, and not only for casinos. At this point in time, it is all about taking tentative steps towards a new reality, where virtual rules the world. But sooner rather than later, the gambling industry will turn to VR as a legitimate form of income rather than just a gimmick.