Virtual Reality had something of a false start back in the 1990’s – arcade machines using Virtuality’s hardware were popular with some gamers, though complaints about headaches and motion sickness were common. Several home systems were announced by the likes of Atari and Sega, but none of them ever came to fruition – the hardware simply wasn’t powerful enough at the time to create an enjoyable, realistic experience – even for five minutes in an arcade.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, is a newer technology that has only really entered mainstream consciousness since the launch of Pokemon Go in 2016. Augmented Reality involves layering computer-generated elements on top of the real world and has dozens of potential uses including video games, employee training, online gambling, and remote working.
Virtual & Augmented Reality in 2022
Today, the latest headsets from companies such as Sony, HTC, and Oculus, are hundreds of times more powerful than those which were experimented with a quarter of a century ago. Video games are the most obvious use for virtual reality technology, and online casinos are effectively just video games with real money betting today. Playing blackjack or roulette with a live dealer at an online casino is already a convincing experience – could these technologies make it even more interesting and/or realistic?
Firstly, from the players perspective there are many advantages to playing online casino games in virtual reality. Playing poker in person is all about looking for tells, working out when your opponents are bluffing, and trying to read what cards they could have in their hands. Playing online poker in virtual reality would give players the ability to observe players in a much more accurate, lifelike setting; hand and body gestures can be observed, and the environment around you can be changed with the addition of a real poker table and casino sound effects.
From the dealer’s perspective, many people do not realize what a challenging job dealing an online live casino game can be, even for the most experienced of card dealers. Not only do they have all of their usual responsibilities of dealing the cards correctly, demonstrating that they are not concealing any cards or chips, shuffling such that the pit boss and casino surveillance are able to monitor the procedure and so forth, but other systems have to be handled in real-time to ensure player actions are correctly implemented.
Augmented Reality technology could be used to give the dealer at an online live dealer table the ability to monitor some aspects of play using a heads-up display that would add information from supporting computer systems to the view of the table in front of them. In theory, this should make their job much easier as, just like the players view, what the dealer sees in front of them would be truer to dealing at a real casino table.
Are These Games Available Now?
Whilst there is much talk online about virtual and augmented reality casino games, there are few examples currently available on the web. One of the reasons for this is that the number of owners of this equipment is still relatively low, especially compared to the number of people who own regular computers, gaming consoles, or smartphones with internet access.
Some articles have been written which suggest there are real money, live dealer, virtual reality casino games already available – I wasn’t able to find any that I could play today in my jurisdiction, however. What is certain however is that online casinos and live dealer iGaming providers are certainly already experimenting with this technology – the hardware is available; the computing resources are available. It is a case of waiting to see if a large enough market emerges to make these types of games a viable alternative to regular online casinos.
Will AR/VR be the Future of Online Gambling?
Swinging back around to our original question, it is difficult to say right now. It will be up to consumers to decide if they enjoy the experience of playing at casinos with VR/AR technology. The tech companies believe that the more realistic and lifelike they can make the experience, the more likely it is to take off with gamblers. If this is true, then the path being followed right now is likely to lead to a future where VR/AR casino games will form a major part of the online casino industry.
There are casinos which you can visit inside of video games already which look unbelievably realistic; take the Diamond inside Grand Theft Auto 5. Not only can you play slot machines, table games, video poker, and any other casino game you can imagine, but you can also hang out in your room with friends in a virtual environment as well. Whether additions such as these will be enough to tempt real money players away from existing online casinos remains to be seen, however.