Back to news May 19, 2023

Casinos in the Metaverse: What Can We Expect?

The meta reality is fast becoming real right before our eyes, and people who partake will crave distractions. Will we see the revival of classic casinos?
Casinos in the Metaverse: What Can We Expect?

What do we talk about when we use the word Metaverse? A lot has been and will continue to be written about it, but for our purposes, it's useful to recognise that it is the internet with an extra dimension.

Instead of 2D participation and a horizontal-only plane of vision (straight ahead with images provided by our front-facing cameras or before our eyes as we stream content), we upgrade to 3D across 360 degrees.

The idea is that, by utilising our own avatars, we, as users, can participate in activities and interact with others within cyberspace. However, quite what it is in the sense of who will be using it and how is still up for grabs.

The idea hasn't yet come of age in either the commercial or private domestic sphere, making it an exciting prospect with a range of possible applications across a range of business sectors.

What it might mean for the gaming industry is far from crystallised but it could represent the next big opportunity, especially in terms of cryptocurrency, accessibility, and brand.

How might casinos be represented within the Metaverse?

We have more supposition than case studies to guide us, but casinos within the Metaverse will likely be land-based, allowing them to concentrate on the experiential aspect.

Within that, some kind of hybrid model seems also likely, at least eventually, allowing the casino to have a wider geographical reach (with patrons not having to be there) and broader demographic appeal (perhaps being able to offer niche or speciality gaming opportunities that would be otherwise prohibitively expensive to run in a physical space).

Hybridisation would be an excellent way to showcase just how far the gaming industry has evolved within the digital landscape. The possible player base is fairly narrow, as buy-in to the Metaverse concept and its associated headsets, although strong and fairly steady, sits far from a level that might be called widespread.

However, the scope for growing that base beyond early tech adopters comfortable with cryptocurrency or virtual currency and gambling is huge.

What can we expect?

Spaces can be developed with a particular consumer target in mind, and one umbrella company could have several distinct brands/identities—all without the same operating hours restrictions and the staffing needs of a traditional land-based casino. In-experience advertising could offer another possible revenue stream for operators.

We may be at a critical juncture for the igaming-Metaverse relationship, where legislation and regulation may be more than a few steps behind actual practice on the ground. Post-pandemic, the various pressures on governments may still lie in other areas, meaningful legislative intervention could still be some time from materialising.

With that in mind, establishing some kind of formal or informal gaming industry-wide body now to monitor and self-police Metaverse ethics and practice, and to eventually advise official regulators, might be a good idea.

At the moment, there is scope for less than ethical, lawless behaviour from 'crypto-cowboys' and the like. Self-policing would bring the much-needed nuance that legislators might miss and avoid draconian measures caused by "crackdowns" on - but which do not only target - exploitative outliers with a short-termist mindset.

Could there be risks involved with interacting in the Metaverse?

When new tech is deployed, its use often has unintended consequences: loopholes, weaknesses, or vulnerabilities that aren't recognised until they are exposed or exploited.

Still, though we're in the early days of the Metaverse, we are no longer in the early days of the internet, which means that some of the issues that have plagued it and the element of playing catch-up that has been in solving those issues, can be mitigated.

From a more gambling industry-specific perspective, we know that internet use compulsions are a real phenomenon, and as an industry, we can never afford to be blasé about the dangers and realities of disordered or excessive gambling. Therefore, new ways of combining the two should never be entered into without consideration of the risks.

However, considering the possible risks to vulnerable or susceptible consumers shouldn't be a reason not to explore; instead, assessing risk to mitigate it should be part and parcel of a good operational model.

It is also incredibly likely that all of the mitigations and safety measures in place to keep consumers safer in online gaming will apply to virtual Metaverse gaming. What is also incredibly likely is that, as this becomes a more entrenched part of the iGaming world, new issues and their solutions will become apparent.

Other Gaming Technologies Beyond the Metaverse

Blockchain and NFTs

Metaverse games benefit from blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In a nutshell, this technology is used when players acquire in-game assets using digital tokens such as Ethereum. These assets, which can be exclusive skins, weapons or virtual real estate, are traded and customisable.

Extended Reality (XR)

XR technology encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). This set of technologies enhances gaming experiences by merging the digital and physical worlds. They allow players to use a poker machine in a VR casino as they would in real life.

Game Engines and Real-Time Rendering

Unreal Engine, Unity and others allow developers to create dynamic, interactive worlds. Real-time rendering guarantees perfect visuals, which is crucial for captivating players.

So: Will having a Metaverse offering be worth it in the end?

The iGaming industry almost certainly benefits the most from a metaverse world and its new technologies. People who might never consider stepping into a physical, bricks-and-mortar site might find the virtual alternative their style more. This is true of anyone who might discover that accessing a casino in real life is challenging.

However, it will only be worth it, in both the short and long term, if properly invested. Delivery of a lacklustre experience, whether 3D rendered in your own home before your eyes or in person surrounded by other people, does not inspire repeat custom or recommendation. Testing and monitoring Metaverse rollout and engagement will be critical for the gaming industry.

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