The Evolution Of Online Gambling Via Virtual Reality

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a1When we decided we wanted to create the world’s first VR real-money online casino, the first step was to think about how a gaming website might look in VR. And if we were to take the existing SlotsMillion website – the brand and its games – and make them into a virtual space, what would it look like?

It was a tough question because it had simply never been done before, and it took a few different iterations to capture the essence of the brand and what that stands for in a virtual space.  We started with grand ideas of big Vegas-style casinos, but they didn’t feel intimate enough so instead we worked on getting it into this slick, polished, smaller space where you can see all of the full range of games that the website offers you.  

So we kind of went “arcadey”. We looked at traditional video arcades and took some inspiration from them but also combined it with how a casino looks. It’s not about recreating an imaginary Vegas mega-resort; it’s about a more personal space, like a lounge or a bar area, somewhere you would feel comfortable relaxing and playing games. Therefore, the casino is a place that feels more like the website you play from your home, in your own personal space.

The first stage was to take our existing 2D slot games and essentially inject them into cabinets within a virtual environment, so that you are experiencing these slots just as you would in a land-based casino, playing on a machine inside a room. The next stage will allow the player to “step inside” the slot so that the game itself becomes the immersive space. If you’re playing Gonzo’s Quest, for example, you’ll be inside that game and its universe will be all around you, with Gonzo, a 3D animated character, bouncing around in there with you.

As we developed SlotsMillion VR, we became increasingly fascinated by the way virtual reality affects the backend of an online casino, and this has become an ever-more-important theme as we continue to develop the technology.

With a website, you can get data analytics and see the clicks, and maybe you do a survey and get some responses, but with VR you get so much more data. And what’s more, you get it by being there virtually, with your customers, allowing you to have a far more natural conversation.

One interesting element is that the support staff will be able to see a different aspect of the casino – perhaps a stripped-down version, with less graphical information but more data.

Affiliate hosting becomes interesting too. Affiliates can “physically” bring their players to the casino, and so the relationship becomes far more social, like that of a real casino. Meanwhile, managers can hold meetings within virtual meeting rooms with their staff and suppliers. And so the virtual playground that we have created will also become our workplace, and we will likely soon spend most of our working lives with a pair of goggles strapped to our faces.

As our casino began evolving, along came a new set of rules as we met with our licensing regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority, to discuss a set of consumer protections and best practices for the new medium. We were worried they might not like the idea of a VR casino, but they were in fact very open-minded.

A key requirement for the MGA was that players must be able to set their limits from within the VR environment, and in fact, everything related to player protection must be present within the VR space itself. One thing that they asked was that a clock be visible to players during their time logged in and playing, which at the very least puts us one up on our clockless land-based counterparts.

Of course, when you talk about the evolution of SlotsMillion, much depends on the future evolution of the technologies that support it, moving forward. These are developing at such a rapid rate that it’s truly exciting to wonder what our casino might look like in five or ten years’ time.

The evolution of a virtual reality gaming market is another thing entirely, and of course it depends upon the rate of hardware adoption. But judging by the enthusiasm and fascination we’ve encountered when we’ve taken SlotsMillion VR on the road, showcasing it at exhibitions around the world, it’s clear that there is a real hunger for VR and the speed of adoption over the next few years may surprise us.  Discuss this story in the VR Gambling forum on VRTalk.com