While news of the metaverse appears to have died down recently, the perennial dream of true, immersive cyberspace is a persistent one that never truly goes away, not least for major entertainment sectors, such as the global online gaming industry, which has been watching developments in this sector closely.
The Rise of Online Casinos
In 2023, the world of online casino gaming increasingly appears as if it has consolidated its lead over its brick-and-mortar counterparts. This statement requires some qualification, however, as 75% of the industry’s revenue is still derived from physical establishments trading around the world, including in hotspots like Las Vegas and Macau.
But whereas physical casinos have steadily decreased in revenues over the years, the online casino market is booming with expectations that it will grow at a CAGR of 11.7% between now and the end of the decade. In the United States alone, the online casino gaming market has grown from $4.39 billion in 2017 to $9.42 billion today.
What is behind this success? Even a cursory analysis of this trend reveals some obvious indicators. For one, online casinos lack many of the restrictions that are placed upon their physical counterparts. For example, an online casino can host as many games as its servers can store, which is likely to be far more than even the largest brick-and-mortar venues in the world.
Online casinos are also, obviously, accessible from pretty much everywhere, making them able to compete with legacy media and online content as an on-demand service rather than being relegated to a physical attraction. This has massively expanded the sector’s market potential.
Online casinos are also extremely effective at providing promotional offers to increase digital footfall, with dedicated websites such as CasinoBonusCA – which predominantly serves the Canadian market – being established to collate and organize casino welcome bonuses for the use and perusal of bargain-hunting casino gamers who favor digital variants.
The Casino Metaverse
With a bright future for the sector all but ensured by these trends, prominent names in the sector have been eagerly investing in establishing platforms on emergent technologies as they arise. From offering payments in cryptocurrencies to exploring the means by which Large Language Models and other forms of AI can contribute to furnishing players with a memorable experience, this market has made a name for itself as an early adopter of disruptive tech innovations.
While NFTs and AI dealers are exciting to contemplate for gamers and providers alike, it is the notion of the metaverse that is appealing more ardently to the game designers of tomorrow. This is because the promise held out by virtual reality technology is one of coming full circle for a market that eschewed the tangible experience of physical gaming for speed, convenience, and accessibility.
Of course, a VR casino will similarly never succeed in truly emulating the unique flair and authentic experience of the world’s most glamorous casinos, but it doesn’t need to. It just needs to offer a greater sense of immersion and connection to online gamers than they currently enjoy.
There have already been note-worthy experiments in piloting table games in VR settings, though the relative infancy of the technology means that we’ve yet to see a more concerted effort on the part of the sector to launch VR casinos. But this should be understood to be simply a matter of time.
Many looks to the recent announcement of Apple’s Vision Pro headset, dubbed their first ‘spatial computer’, as a prospective turning point in the fates of VR. While this headset, which will retail for the princely sum of $3,499, is not going to experience mass adoption, it will go some way to making the notion of VR more attractive to developers and consumers alike. After all, when Apple launched the first iPhone, it started a revolution in the way people thought about and designed phones.
A VR casino of the future could potentially reside within a dedicated metaverse – imagine, if you will, a host of casinos all connected to one another in a digital space akin to Las Vegas’ world-famous strip, with gamers free to move around between the various providers. How far off such an eventuality we are is difficult to say, but it’s not unreasonable to suppose that we shall see something like this come about before the end of the decade.