We’ve all looked at those movies and TV shows from decades ago that predicted what “the future” would be like (the classic Back to the Future comes to mind first). In most cases, it’s actually a bit disheartening. Neither true hoverboards nor tubes are carrying us to our destinations.

Food doesn’t come in little pills (though for foodies, this probably wouldn’t be considered a plus anyway). But, one prediction that actually IS coming true is the development of virtual reality or VR. Though it’s primarily been a fixture of the video game industry and it’s still very new to the commercial market, it’s already making its mark on the gambling industry with more to come.

How Virtual Reality Will Affect Brick-and-Mortar Casinos

When many people think of VR gambling, they immediately think of it as a replacement for ground-based casinos. However, if VR casinos actually will pose a threat to brick-and-mortar casinos, it’s quite a long way off.

As fascinating as the technology is, it still can’t replace the high-end, night-on-the-town feel you get from dressing up, grabbing a group of friends or a date, and heading out to a glamorous casino.

VR is really more of an extension of online gambling – another resource that makes gambling available to people who aren’t near a casino, rather than an alternative to in-person gaming.

Still, the lack of competition doesn’t mean VR won’t have an effect on the landscape of on-ground casinos. An exciting next step for casinos is to set up VR lounges – areas where guests can put on VR headsets and experience different types of games the casino hasn’t been able to add to its physical floor. In this same area, VR can be used as a way for newcomers to learn about the various games before they head out to the casino floor.

For instance, a visitor can put on a VR headset to see a video about the rules of craps, and he or she can play a few simulated games to get the hang of it before trying an in-person craps table. Finally, VR can be a fantastic way for casinos to attract new customers.

From the comfort of their own home, gamblers can take a virtual tour of the casino so they can get to know the layout, the available games, and the amenities before they make the trip.

How Virtual Reality Will Affect Online Casinos

While its impact on brick-and-mortar casinos may be somewhat limited, VR technology is expected to make many more dramatic changes to the online gambling scene.

The revolution has already been underway since the first VR casino “opened” in late 2015. As VR becomes more mainstream, more of these casinos are likely to pop up and existing ones are expected to become more advanced. They have the obvious advantage of providing a more realistic and immersive experience than typical online casinos, in some cases allowing gamblers to communicate in real time with live dealers and other players, bringing in the social component that online casinos tend to lack.

VR casinos are anticipated to really become a happy medium between online gaming sites and brick-and-mortar casinos. Many people who enjoy online gambling are attracted to the convenience of it. They may not have the availability or the time to go to an in-person casino on a regular basis, but they love the excitement and the relaxation of gaming.

With VR casinos, they will be able to maintain the convenience they need but will have a better all-around experience. Imagine betting on a horse race and then being able to watch that race happen in front of your eyes as your horse takes the win. This is the type of experience that could be possible with VR.

As it’s applied more and more to online gambling, VR won’t just benefit the players. it will carry great advantages for the casinos as well.

When it’s paired with artificial intelligence and other advanced software, a VR casino can be customized to each individual player. As it learns each player’s favorite games and behavioral patterns, that player’s version of the casino can be modified to peak his or her interest. Ultimately, this will allow casinos to keep their customers playing for longer, which generally puts more money in the casino’s pocket.

On top of the benefits for individual online casinos, VR is good news for the online gambling industry. By providing a better and more enticing experience for every customer, VR casinos can become attractive enough to pull in a much larger user base than they’ve had in the past. When more people start venturing into online gaming, it’s a plus for the entire industry.

Potential Hurdles for Virtual Reality in Gambling

Now that we’ve gotten you all excited about the huge potential that VR holds in the gambling industry, it’s time for a reality check. As great as VR is, there are some factors that could hold it back from being as successful as it could be.

The largest issue for VR gaming is the lack of a customer base. Virtual reality is a very new technology. While the first systems were developed in the 1990s, they’ve only hit the consumer market in the past few years. As is the case with any new technology, there’s a rather expensive price tag.

To use VR, a consumer must buy a VR headset, and while there are a few on the market (enough to spark some competition), they’re still pretty pricey. Other than headsets that just hold a phone at a certain distance to simulate VR, true VR headsets start at about $400, and higher-end ones can reach upwards of $1,000. For consumers, buying a VR headset is like buying a whole new gaming console, which most people only do every few years. Between the expensive equipment and the fact that there aren’t many games available yet for VR, there isn’t a very large customer base for VR casinos to target.

This is expected to improve as the technology becomes less expensive and as more and more gamers take the plunge into VR. But, for the time being, it severely limits the market for VR gambling.

The other potential problem with VR casinos is in the production costs for the casinos themselves. One reason there are so many online casinos to choose from is that there is a somewhat low barrier to entry.

Even with all the regulation surrounding the gambling industry, online casinos can be built for a price that is low enough for a company to get a return on its investment soon. VR, on the other hand, requires a much more complex process in the development side.

A higher cost to enter the market of VR gambling means a smaller industry overall, which means having less ability to generate interest in the industry as a whole.

Technology has had a huge impact on the gambling world already, from more advanced odds calculations and more creative slot machines to the dawn of convenient online casinos. However, the changes are far from over, and VR has the potential to really improve and change the face of convenience gambling.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.