Much like sectors throughout the entertainment industry, there’s no shortage of tech being utilised in gambling. Innovations that once seemed a far-off ambition are now commonplace online, allowing casino players to access their favourite games at the click of a button or the touch of a screen.
Barbuda and Antigua was the first nation to regulate online gambling in 1994, and they granted the first licenses to companies wishing to offer it. The first online casino opened in 1996, and the scene quickly exploded to the extent that the online gambling industry is now estimated at being worth more than $94bn (around £71m).
The games themselves haven’t changed drastically over the last decade, and the focus has primarily been on improving the experience for mobile users, but innovations like ‘live dealer’ casinos, where the player interacts with a real person – not a computer – have grown in popularity during the same time frame. In fact, many now prefer to play live casino due to the immersion that the experience offers.
With this in mind, it’s likely that augmented and virtual reality will continue to be a central theme for innovation in the gambling industry. Industry insiders agree that augmented and virtual reality is the future of online casino gaming, and as hardware catches up, it’s expected we’ll see it feature more heavily in the years ahead.
As the new technology becomes available and as more and more users adapt to the use of AR and VR in their games, they’re expected to quickly become the industry standard. Though there are relatively few VR games available today, their successful trial and implementation should lead to more becoming available, although it may be a few years until they’re prevalent.
There have of course been examples of AR and VR technology unsuccessfully trialled and it’s often tough to predict which types of innovation the general public will take to. Google launched Google Glass a few years ago, but the project was quickly discontinued, although experts predict that the search giant will revisit the tech in the not-too-distant future.
The case proves that tech predictions aren’t always correct. More broadly, many expected 3D televisions to be rolled out and become widespread following their introduction in recent years, but that expectation couldn’t have been more wrong. The technology is now almost totally obsolete, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a 3D TV on sale in shops.
But AR and VR technology has already taken hold in sectors like social media, phone photography and instant messaging, which has allowed tech users to dip their toe and gain an understanding of how it works on a platform they trust and are used to. But using it as a means to attract new players to casino games will be a different challenge entirely.
The risk for casino companies is that introducing new technologies could disrupt the experience for their regular players, and some people just may not be interested in making their gaming more immersive.
How online casino companies harness augmented and virtual reality to create an interactive and immersive experience that tempts new players, enhances the games for existing users – without alienating their core audience – is their biggest consideration.