The global gambling industry is a huge and fast-growing business. Forecasts expect total revenue to reach at least $565 billion by 2022, representing growth of over $25 billion per year since 2018. Much of this growth is being driven by online companies providing services that can be accessed via computers and mobiles.
As a rapidly expanding market, the gambling industry is constantly seeking ways to improve its services and offer customers more. Advances in technology are driving this innovation online, with casinos implementing new software to close the gap between the real live casino experience and playing online.
One of the more recent innovations has been live dealer technology, in which users can play in real time and even chat to the casino dealer or croupier while playing. On 888 Poker, players can even set up interactive online games with friends and family, experiencing the social aspect of visiting a casino or poker room from the privacy of their own homes.
One of the biggest technology advances that is just starting to take the online casino world by storm is virtual reality. Players with home headsets can now immerse themselves in the gaming experience and feel as if they are actually at the casino. The software is still relatively new and certainly not available everywhere. However, opportunities for a fully immersive online gaming experience are increasing every day. Virtual reality games are being lauded as the software of the future across the international gaming industry.
There may yet only be a few online casinos operating VR suites but, for those that are, the demand is growing. The technology goes beyond simply producing 3D imagery – players donning a VR headset and accessing a compatible iGaming platform feel as though they are walking the casino floor.
VR players with the right technology can sit at home in their living room wearing pyjamas, while at the same time spending the evening in glamorous clothes strolling the floors of the Bellagio and trying their luck at virtual gaming tables and slot machines, just as if they were truly in Las Vegas. The detailed casino game rooms coupled with realistic ambient sounds replicate the experience of being in a brick-and-mortar casino, yet without the inconvenience of travelling.
3D game tables allow players to walk around the building and select their seat at the game of their choice, while chat features facilitate social interactions with other players for a fully realistic experience. The VR industry for online casinos may still be in the early stages of development but those that are paving the way are showing just how well it can work.
The Growing VR Industry
As far back as 2016, when VR for online casinos was still in the embryonic phase, tech giants including Facebook and Samsung were all predicting that the technology would prove popular with consumers. A report from Juniper Research issued in 2016 forecast an increase in VR gambling revenue of 800% by 2021, reaching almost $520 million.
A new report by the same research company in 2020 shows total VR consumer content revenue has reached $3 billion and is expected to rise to at least $7 billion by 2025. These figures show that there is already a huge market for virtual reality and the casino and gaming industries are at the forefront of this trend. Stand-alone VR technology is expected to drive market growth, while mobile VR could potentially decline in favour of more specialised headsets and hardware.
As with any new and innovative technology in the early days of implementation, high costs are still an issue for both the producers and the users of current virtual reality software and hardware. Developers need to be constantly updating via high-speed internet connections, while the investment by the user remains relatively high. Software implementation is complex and requires a large financial outlay when compared to other forms of current online casino software.
Despite the associated costs, the future for casino VR looks bright. As with any technology that begins to become more widely used, costs will eventually go down and processes will be streamlined to become less complex. Many of the biggest software developers in the industry are prepared to meet these initial costs to be at the forefront of what is looking increasingly like a revolutionary new development that could underpin the entire future of the industry.
Recreating Live Experiences
One of the key advantages of VR in terms of recreating the live experience is it can take the players beyond the game and fully immerse them in the casino atmosphere. The close-to-reality experiences players can expect include being able to meet friends at the bar for a drink and even light a cigarette during a game. Players visiting virtual casinos could have the option of attending live music shows and other performances, taking a stroll down the Vegas Strip or go celebrity-spotting in a high-end bar.
In both online and brick and mortar casinos, many player experiences are being improved through augmented reality. AR is similar in many ways to VR but with a more segmented approach. Players are in a real-life environment with technology being used to provide exciting additional elements to the room. This could mean realistic-looking 3D fire-breathing dragons observing the game, or software that turns the croupier into a mermaid.
As the technology evolves, the options are endless for virtual reality online casinos. Not only could players enjoy real-life experiences within their headset – they could also see a merging of reality and fantasy as casinos begin to merge with other gaming software. It could be possible to walk out of an online casino straight into a fantasy RPG world, play poker on the moon or walk to the bottom of the ocean and play underwater roulette. The possibilities are truly as infinite as the boundaries of human imagination.