Online casinos slowly came to the fore in the late nineties, but they’ve surged in popularity ever since. Thanks to early innovations from Microgaming and Playtech, software development companies were able to recreate live casino gaming experiences in an online setting. Things really took off in the noughties thanks, in part, to an amateur poker player from America called Chris Moneymaker. His win in the 2003 WSOP Main Event prompted millions to try and follow suit. That caused the online poker boom which, in turn, helped online casino sites grow in popularity. We’re now at the point where the industry is worth billions, and players can enjoy everything from online slots and live dealer games to virtual reality (VR) offerings.
Online Casinos Do More than Keep the Classics Alive
Indeed, for all intents and purposes, online casino gaming is a well-formed industry in almost every part of the world. Indeed, all licensed websites and apps are safe, secure, and offer fair games. For example, the Swedish Gaming Act and, in turn, the Swedish Gambling Authority, regulate online casinos in Sweden. In the UK, it’s the Gambling Commission and so on. From a quality control angle, everything is covered. From a gaming perspective, things are good but not perfect. Innovation has been a fundamental tenet of the industry since its inception and, in some areas, it’s currently lacking. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking everywhere. For example, when someone in Sweden “spela slots” (plays slots), they have the option to try innovative offerings such as Clash of the Titans video poker and Dragon Tiger (a two-card version of baccarat).
Slots have become a huge hit in the online gaming world. (Source: Pixabay)
Both of these games go beyond the norm to offer something fresh. Looking specifically at Clash of the Titans, this game is based on tens or better video poker, but it links to an online slot of the same name. That means it includes video sequences and special jackpots that aren’t typically found inside traditional tens or better video poker games. It’s a similar deal with Dragon Tiger. This card game takes the basic premise of baccarat and simplifies it. Instead of each participant receiving two cards and a drawing process taking place, they get one card. This speeds up the game and makes it ideal for mobile gamers who want instant entertainment. These are two examples of how online casinos are adapting so they can remain competitive in an evolving industry. However, there is more than that can be done. The limits of online gaming are only constrained by two things: imagination and technology.
Making Games More Immersive and Interactive
There’s no shortage of creativity out there. Indeed, when live streaming technology got to a point where it was cost-effective and reliable enough to make interactive casino games, developers went wild. Today, live dealer games not only cover the classics like roulette and blackjack, but they’ve also spun off in various gameshow-inspired directions with things like Monopoly Live and Dreamcatcher. What this shows us is that, when the technology is available, developers are full of ideas. Therefore, we don’t know exactly where the industry could be heading in the next two decades simply because new technology could emerge and completely change things. However, one area that’s almost certain to result in new ideas is virtual reality (VR). Increased immersion has long been the goal of developers. We only have to look at live dealer casino games to see that operators want to create ever-more authentic experiences. VR could take this to the next level.
A person wearing VR goggles (Source: Pexels)
A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, called Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2021-2025, predicts that VR will outstrip all other mediums in terms of growth over the next four years. This alone suggests that VR will shape the future of digital entertainment, which includes casino gaming. In fact, we’re already seeing this manifest itself in reality. Microgaming, a company that pioneered some of the very first online casino games, has already experimented with virtual reality. The VR Roulette prototype won an award after it was demoed at a gaming expo in 2015. Since then, NetEnt has teased the potential of VR within the casino industry with a revamped version of its popular slot, Gonzo’s Quest. These games are far from complete, but they give us an insight into what’s possible and where the industry is heading. Players are always wanting a more interactive and immersive experience, and VR can deliver that. However, it must be delivered in an easy and accessible way. If the controls are too complex or the speed at which games flow is too slow, people won’t be interested.
The Future of Online Casino Gaming
Card games such as blackjack and poker would be fairly easy to manage in this regard. Turning over cards and placing chips on a table doesn’t require a huge amount of dexterity. However, this is more of the same in some regards. Yes, the VR angle adds something new to the mix. But blackjack is blackjack, regardless of the setting. Therefore, the task of developers will be to take online casino gaming to a place it’s not been before. This could be done by modeling VR casinos on Las Vegas venues such as The Venetian.
So, instead of having a selection of games and little else, VR casinos of the future could offer a walkthrough experience. The casino could have bars, places where you can watch sports via live streams, a mini-theme park, and more. Developers could also add video games to the mix. They could create a place where players can sit down in a virtual cinema and watch movies. The idea would be to create a complete entertainment experience. By thinking in terms of virtual worlds instead of games, the possibilities increase immensely. This could be the future of online casinos or, at least, one way in which developers can continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in gaming.