5 May

Looking Ahead: Gambling in the Metaverse

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Every time you turn around these days, you hear the term “Metaverse”. Most people still don’t quite understand what it means, or what it is; or rather, what it is meant to be. Depending on who you ask, the Metaverse doesn’t exist yet. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and the rest of the crew at Meta might disagree. But realistically speaking, what they intend the Metaverse to be, and what’s available to date, are hardly the same.

If and when the Metaverse achieves even half of its foreseeable potential, the results will be astonishing. It would bring the entire world into pristine focus. It would allow a housewife in Brazil to attend a fashion show in Milan; visit relatives in Australia; to browse the real-time selection of handbags at Saks Fifth Avenue, without ever leaving the sofa.

Imagine you could explore all the multi-billion-dollar casinos along the Las Vegas Strip – or even the Cotai Strip in Macau, China – taking in the majestic beauty of each structure, inside and out. What if you weren’t just able to visit these casinos, but were capable of placing bets, and winning real money, at one of their endless gambling amusements? Within the Metaverse, all of this and so much more could be possible.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s take a closer look at what the Metaverse is truly meant to be.

What Is the Metaverse?

What is the Metaverse VRIn the simplest of terms, the Metaverse is (or will become) a virtual edition of life as we know it. From his seat atop the throne of Facebook’s parent company, Meta, Zuckerberg’s dream is to create a simulated world that mimics reality as closely as possible by combining today’s augmented and virtual reality technology with real-time video and audio transmissions.

We’ve already got a pretty decent range of VR tech out there now that utilizes the same concepts. However, the Metaverse is meant to be so much more. It would allow for in-person buying and selling, virtual travel and meetings, realistic experiences capable of triggering all five senses. If you’ve read Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, Snow Crash, or watched Marco Brambilla’s 1993 SciFi blockbuster, Demolition Man, you should have a pretty good idea of what technology developers are trying to create.

Scientists can take care of all the intricate development and design. As for the average person, all you would need is a VR headset and a solid, high-speed internet connection. Throw in some haptic sensory tech, and the possibilities are endless. But that really is getting ahead of ourselves. For now, it’s the ability to connect with real people, from anywhere in the world, and feel like you’re all in the same space.

According to its creators:

“3D spaces in the metaverse will let you socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine.”

This video, hosted by Mark Zuckerberg himself, helps explain exactly how it works now, and what his company envisions for the future. It’s an hour and seventeen minutes long, so feel free to skip through it.

How would Metaverse Gambling Work?

It’s relatively easy to imagine how other parts of the Metaverse would work. Most of us have experience VR worlds and gaming, via systems like Oculus and PlayStation. But gambling in the Metaverse would be a bit different. It would combine the ability to traverse a vast, virtual world, with financial commerce and social communication.

Think of it as choosing one of the many casinos of the world to visit, then walking through its doors, down the hallways, across the gaming floor. Imagine all the people you might see while touring the facility. Each of them would be there, in a virtual sense. You can approach them, interact with them. You could even visit the main desk and sign up for a club card, just as you would in a real casino.

As for the actual gambling part, players would be able to scan the entire casino floor, or choose a section “zoom” to. You might look over all of the slot machines, one aisle at a time, or tap a menu to select from a list of slot names or categories. The experience could be as genuine or streamlined as you want it to be.

Since buying and selling are all integral parts of the Metaverse, the act of placing a wager should be a breeze. At a roulette game, physical gestures would allow you to select and place chips in any designated betting area on the table. A real croupier, from his or her VR position, would state, “No more bets”, before spinning the wheel right before your eyes.

Video poker, blackjack, baccarat, pai gow poker – every game you would expect to find in a land-based casino, or today’s high-tech internet casinos and live online casinos can and will be developed for the Metaverse.

Hasn’t This Been Tried Before?

To an extent, yes. Virtual reality casinos have been built. We’ve been sampling this type of tech since around 2015-16. So far, nothing much has come of it. Players didn’t take to it for a variety of reasons. The technology was too nascent, for one, and only a handful of people owned the equipment necessary to access it. Simply put, it wasn’t a profitable line of industry. If there’s little or no profit in it, businesses have little or no motivation to invest in it.

Why Now? What Changed?

It was, no doubt, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 that drove big tech companies like Meta, Google, Microsoft, and others to pursue the virtual realm. Suddenly, there was a major need for communicating at a distance, but in as realistic a setting as possible. Quick fixes came to market, but they left companies thinking about what the future could hold.

The pandemic may be receding, but the demand for this technology remains. Companies are becoming accustom to the idea of virtual video meetings. Why fly dozens of executives halfway around the world to host a meeting that everyone could attend from their office? And that concept is spurring more and more ideas for a metaphysical future; one that will include everything from social interaction and commerce, to live entertainment, and inevitably, to metaverse gambling.

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