If you never played online poker, or never entered an online casino, we have news for you: online gambling changed a lot in the recent years. Social gambling widely popular, and a huge industry that's currently worth about 4 billion USD. Social gambling further blurred the lines between gaming, e-sports and online gambling (lines which were already quite blurry, to put it mildly).
The problem is it looks like growth is slowing down. Some of these activities and games (or sports, if you want to push the boundaries) are hugely popular for sure. Online poker has a big community and fan base. On the other hand online forms of traditional casino-style games never became a super big hit. Social casinos today are mostly marketing stunts of real life offline places.
A real casino experience
Most of the casino games, quite simply, lose the air of excitement when played online. Playing at a roulette table is just so much more fun when you are actually there, and this is true for most of the casino games. Poker is rather an exception.
Casinos - real or virtual - have one single goal: keep people playing as long as possible. Encouraging users to increase their stakes is not the even that important; the time invested is what matters. In a real casino the atmosphere is fun even if you don't play that much: there are always crowds around the tables, everyone is stylish and elegant, drinks are great and the vibe is engaging. Well, let's just say it's quite different when you play online, in a 2D environment...
Companies tried bringing in the social element to their online casinos, and it works to an extent; but the visuals are still two dimensional, and not particularly engaging. Virtual reality can change this completely.
Don't imitate old experiences - create new ones
Visuals are important, but recreating virtual versions of a real casino might not be the best idea. The crowd and the vibe is very hard to recreate, and most people don't even gamble for the win, they gamble for the experience. So instead of recreating a classic casino interior in virtual reality, why not let users play high-stakes poker at a 1930s Mafia HQ? Or bet if you can walk on a rope between two skyscrapers? Or do a wing suit fly-by and betting on how far you can go without crushing on a rock? Casinos are fun, sure, but playing fun games for real money can be a huge hit in virtual reality.
Virtual reality can and will change the gambling industry, and the truth is it badly needs a restart. Global Poker Index warned that online poker has to reinvent itself anyway, as its widely seen as a game of the 2000s with the average online poker player's age being 40.
Some of the great innovations are where e-sports meet gambling, like The Cube, a portable box with live feed of poker data for fans. And we haven't even talked about how augmented reality can transform a poker match with HUDs and chance calculator tickers. We've seen great AR features for other games like pool.
Gambling needs something new. Whether it will be e-sports, casual gaming or time travel, virtual reality and augmented reality will play a part - transforming the user experience and ultimately saving an industry.