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By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:
In this article, we explore the dawn of the Virtual Reality Casino. Will these new technologies take off in the industry, or simply be forgotten as a noble, progressive experiment? In addition, we talk you through the best (and pretty much only) online VR casino out there, SlotsMillion. The site, which gained a UK license during 2017, is now available fully to players in the United Kingdom.
Virtual Reality or VR is an immersive, computer simulated experience that engages human senses. Often with the aid of a headpiece and goggles, players interact with a virtual, 3D world that they can move through and experience in an almost “real” way. Though the concept has existed in works of science and science fiction for many years, it has only become a reality since the 1990’s when business started to develop such products. With recent technological progress through the smart phone era, there has been something of a new wave in VR products thanks to businesses like Oculus and the Sony with the Playstation 4.
A VR system like the Oculus Rift works like a computer attached to some goggles that you wear on your head. If that description has not particularly helped, then see the (much more helpful) diagram below.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options when it come to Virtual Reality Casinos. From a mainstream perspective, the technology is still in its infancy.
Jackpot VR and Poker VR are two sites which have created full, 3D worlds to explore with VR headsets. The former is set in a Vegas-like slots hall, and the latter set around a professional looking poker table, with some quite convincing look avatars sitting around it. The problem with both of these sites is that neither have entered the real money gambling market. Because neither site is licensed, players are not able to gamble real money. They are both simply social gaming sites. Therefore, neither are likely to be an appropriate substitute for the internet casino gambler.
Likewise, Big Spin Slots is an exciting application which you can download for you Oculus Rift system. The download is free, and you can immerse yourself in various exciting spaces such as the VIP casino room or you can even play slots on a pirate ship, where one of the bonus games requires you to hunt a kraken.
The app asks you to “sit back, relax, and spin for the ultimate win in virtual reality.” In actuality, the app gives you the “ultimate virtual win” because Big Spins Slots is another social gaming site without a license.
So where does that leave your options? Well, it’s no longer a million miles away…
SlotsMillion is the major VR/3D casino experience which also has a real money gambling license. It was only this year that the UKGC awarded them the right to accept UK customers. Being the only true VR casino available to the majority of the Western world, where online gambling is acceptable, has put Alea (the operator) and SlotsMillion in a very powerful position.
Though it may seem like a daunting experience trying to set up your own VR casino at home, it is actually a fairly straightforward process. Of course, if you want the full Virtual experience, you will need to purchase an Oculus Rift, or some such VR equipment, and a gamepad to move around the room. Thankfully, you can still experience the interactive SlotsMillion casino, but simply in 3D on your screen. In that instance, you can just use your keyboard to move.
In order the access the casino “universe,” you must download the setup file from the SlotsMillion website. It comes as a ZIP file of about 400 MB in size. Provided you have decent internet bandwidth, this will download in no time at all. Likewise, the file won’t take up too much space on your hard drive. SlotsMillion want you to know that the file is 100% secure and does not contain any spyware.
Once download and completed setup, you can get cracking straight away. If you have a SlotsMillion account, you will be prompted to enter your username and password. But if you don’t, you can still enter the casino as a guest and play around!
The casino has a pretty slick design; the interior combines a classic, cigar lounge feel with skyscraper futurism. The exterior, which you can see through the big glass windows on the 80th floor of a building, has a slightly ominous and brooding cyberpunk feel. Both apocalyptic and breath-taking, the dark storm clouds form a backdrop to skyscrapers and futuristic telephone pylons. There is a dramatic and sexy bleakness to this futuristic world. You may feel like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner; slightly seedy, but glamorous at the same time.
As you wander around, you’ll find a bar and a lounge to chill out in, and rows of slot machines that you can sit down and play at. Perhaps the piece de resistance of the casino’s gaming is the screen which displays an enormous 3D version of Starburst, one of the world’s most popular online slots. If you choose to play Starburst, this special 3D version involves symbols bursting out of the screen like jewelled rain. It is a quite exhilarating experience. However, you don’t have to just play Starburst on it. Using a small virtual iPad at the foot of the screen, you can choose between 40 games to play.
The 40 games that you can play on the big screen are mostly NetEnt slots like:
Jack Hammer 2
Secrets of the Stones
They also offer classic NetEnt slots like Super Nudge 6000, Mega Joker, Dazzle Me and Jackpot 6000.
Also available are slots from NetGen (Foxin Wins), Thunderkick (Esqueleto Explosivo), Elk Studio (Electric Sam), Quickspin (Big Bad Wolf) and Play n’ Go (Tower Quest & Gemix).
If you want a simulation of going up to a slot machine and spinning the reels, then you can simply walk up to one of many that are on the casino floor.
Before you enter the casino, you can choose your avatar. There are 6 designs to choose from. Multiple players can also enter the room at any one time, so you are likely to see other people also playing around. However, don’t be alarmed; other people cannot see your game screen.
Perhaps the only thing that is not fully synched up with your SlotsMillion account is that you cannot access your lobby in the VR casino. You’ll have to log into your account online to be able to make deposits and withdrawals as well as change the setting in your account.
Given that the technology is still nascent, there aren’t a lot of data points to understand how traditional online casino players will receive it. The equipment is expensive, and it’s not clear if players at home actually want to feel as though they’re in a casino, rather than just playing online slots in their living room.
Can the virtual reality casino also solve the problem of fewer younger gamers? Online gamblers are more often than not older people. For many in the industry, this marriage of thrilling entertainment and technological cutting-edge, must seem like an attractive avenue to pursue. Of course, the technology is far from there yet, and likewise VR equipment is still too expensive at this stage to go entirely mainstream. However, the generation that is familiar with the PS4, which has a strong VR component to it, are becoming accustomed to the notion of VR.
Likewise, with AR (Augmented Reality) and Pokemon Go, the public at large is becoming more accustomed to alternative ways of interactive gaming. Perhaps these are the first steps to the future of the iGaming industry?
Many technology experts believe that it won’t ever be able to truly replicate the sensation and the thrill of going to an online casino. One even posited that it is perfect for someone on a cold, dark evening where you wouldn’t want to leave the house, but you want to experience the biggest, most visceral thrill from gambling possible at home.
When this was put forward on a Sky News discussion programme, one of the hosts retorted; “That makes them sound quite sad.”
Perhaps some of the negative public discourse around electronic gaming in both betting shops (FOBTs) as well as online means that the virtual reality casino is not quite ready to go mainstream. But currently, it is still a noble, and thoroughly modern experiment.