Back in October 2021, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company – now Meta – would focus significant resources on building the metaverse. Almost instantly, the concept hit the mainstream, and billions of dollars have since poured been allocated finance metaverse projects.
But even today, the concept of the metaverse – or metaverses – remains somewhat cloudy. At least, in terms of a formal definition (or lack thereof) as to what the whole thing means. There isn’t even agreement on whether a true metaverse is possible, let alone what it would look like.
Skeptics continue to believe any creation of the supposed Facebook metaverse would be a little more than a glorified video game. Elsewhere, proponents of the idea believe it will change the way we live, work, and play.
Regardless of who is right about the metaverse, what we can say for sure is that some of the elements that make it possible – VR/AR, blockchain & holographic technology, etc. – could be applied with huge effectiveness to various industries. One of which being the casino sector, which for many years has been taking full advantage of pretty much every technological advancement that has emerged.
But how in specific could the metaverse change the casino industry? If things head the way Zuckerberg and Co. seem to think they’re heading, what kinds of new concepts and technological creations could we be seeing over the coming years?
Of all metaverse concepts, avatars are most likely to be used at online casinos. If you consider the way live casino games like roulette are played today, it’s not a huge stretch to see avatars (digital versions of yourself) thrown into the mix. They’re already used in some kind of rudimentary way, and are set to become increasingly sophisticated as things gain momentum. But there are also those who see avatars eventually being brought into use in a far broader context.
Microsoft, for example, is the big tech company that is currently most focused on developing avatars for use in the workplace. Meta is also pouring money into it, but at a slightly slower pace. Moreover, there is a slowly building consensus that eventually, our avatars will be cross-platform. This essentially means they can be used in different scenarios. For example, your avatar for Facebook’s Horizon Worlds would be the same one you use for playing online casino games, and for attending online work meetings.
An exceptionally versatile virtual version of yourself, used to represent you remotely.
In a sense, this concept has already been rolled out. Evolution Gaming has launched “Dual Play” – the first ‘live casino to real casino’ convergence software. Essentially, this means people can remotely place bets on a land-based casino table alongside the players who are there in person. But the metaverse technology can take this a little further.
Picture, for instance, a virtual Bellagio Las Vegas, where players enter using VR headwear. We already have metaverse music concerts, so it’s easy to imagine those patrons ‘leaving’ the gig and heading for a few games of blackjack after.
The Virtual Croupier
The best way to describe this idea is by looking at something that has already taken place. A couple of years ago, Decentraland – which is a metaverse gaming project – opened a virtual casino (a bit like the casino in Grand Theft Auto) where players could play casino games using cryptocurrency.
Decentraland used computerised croupiers and casino staff – like your usual NPCs (non-playable characters) in gaming lingo. However, they quickly realised that players were far more likely to stay and spend more money where the croupiers hosting the action were ‘real’.
So, they hired real people to work in the virtual casino, in order to enhance the experience and separate more people from more of their money. As the whole thing proved surprisingly successful, it’s pretty much certain we will see more of this in future.
Blockchain Casino Games
Blockchains and cryptocurrency aren’t synonymous with the metaverse, but they nonetheless play a very important role in creating it. Blockchain games are already very popular, even if they vary (massively) in terms of the quality of the gameplay experience.
It’s theorized that the key to creating successful blockchain casino games will be establishing a sense of trust and transparency. As every transaction can be recorded, retrieved, and verified on the blockchain, and players can take peace of mind in knowing that every outcome is fair and random.
This movement could also allow for the games to become more customisable, meaning players could change elements of the games themselves to suit their preferences.
Rounding off with a somewhat pressing problem the concept of the metaverse is based on the idea of decentralization. What this means is a virtual world, free from the central control of governments, Big Tech, banks, and so on.
We all know that casino regulations differ by country, and even on a state-by-state basis in the US. This inherently poses a major problem for anyone wishing to build casinos in a truly open metaverse. Regulators have not even begun to try to catch up on the technology yet, but it is likely to pose a serious problem later down the line.
Regulating the metaverse is a hot topic, and it remains to be seen whether it becomes an open space for people to do what they like. Of course, the idea of the metaverse existing with absolutely no laws or regulatory control is pure science fiction. The whole thing would be wide open to exploitation, and rife with all manner of weird and wonderful types of cybercrime.
Metaverse legislation is therefore a case of when (and to what extent), rather than if. But as legislation is likely to differ significantly from one territory to the next, creating an open ‘playground’ of sorts for the entire world seems a far-fetched concept.
It’s exactly what some are planning to do, but whether or not they pull it off remains to be seen.
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