Virtual reality was all the rage some eight years ago. However, things have seemingly died down regarding this technology and its mainstream establishment. Or, perhaps those are just the current optics. And it has nested seamlessly in everyday life, inconspicuously slowly proliferating. Whatever the case may be, it did not reach its predicted status. There is no doubt about that.
Invented in the 1950s, in the form we know it now, VR has gone through several peak and valley periods during its short existence. The Sword of Damocles, the original head-mounted display, debuted in 1968, and it was a device that could only show simple virtual wire-frame shapes. By the early 1990s, VR video arcades (Virtuality) were a thing, giving gamers the joy of playing multiplayer machines via a stereoscopic visor and wired joysticks.
In 2016, interactive gaming giant and pioneer Microgaming presented a VR version of roulette at the ICE London Expo, with plans for this product to appear at online casinos and give live dealer games a run for their money this year. Nevertheless, that never happened. Unfortunately, VR games never did become the industry mainstays many projected them to be. Yet, in 2022, a new push for their reemergence is occurring, and below, we look at whatever happened to VR casinos and gaming titles in general.
SlotsMillion’s VR Casino
One interactive gaming entity that decided to go all-in on the VR trend was SLTM Ltd., a Malta-based company established in 2013. Initially operating as ALEA GAMING LTD., then simply as ALEA LTD., and now SLTM Ltd. is a player in the online gambling landscape that boasts regulatory approval from the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and the Swedish Gambling Authority.
SlotsMillion is SLTM Ltd.’s only child, and in late 2016, this online casino launched its VR iteration. Per a statement from the company’s CEO, Alexandre Tomic, the simulated casino floor was merely an enhancement to current gaming technologies. It featured forty slots and was the world’s first VR money gambling area. No casino classics (table games) were present inside the VR SlotsMillion venue, and the 3D environment could only be experienced through an Oculus headset. SLTM Ltd. allowed gamblers to choose their avatar and roam a floor of a high-rise complete with a bar and scenic views of a city skyline.
Sadly, this VR casino is no longer active, as the VR page of the SlotMillions platform gives a Page Not Found error when accessed. So, it was a short-lived, failed adventure for SLTM Ltd. in the interactive gaming space. In truth, that was the probable result, as most online gamblers don’t own a VR headset and have little to no interest in immersing themselves in a virtual setting to enjoy online slots.
While VR casino products never took off, table games like blackjack remains popular with live dealer casinos. Moreover, due to the higher interactivity associated with card gambling, software developers have put more effort into crafting VR games from this genre than casino ones. That particularly applies to poker.
PokerStars, the global online poker brand owned by The Stars Group, has its online VR card game, PokerStars VR, developed by Lucky VR. It has been a free-to-play game on Steam since November 2018 for the Microsoft Windows and Oculus Quest platforms. Recently, it added blackjack, roulette, and slot action, boasting an unparalleled digital social experience with intuitive gameplay, realistic physics, and tournament entertainment for those with a competitive spirit. Most of the things stated regarding PokerStars VR also hold for Poker VR, a multiplayer card game playable via the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Oculus Go headsets.
But, as mentioned, these two titles provide fun-play VR gambling fun. They are social card rooms in digital form, not real money ones. In the past, a few poker gambling sites dabbled with VR poker, but the option did not manage to stick around on most platforms.
Metaverse Casino Gambling
In 2021, metaverses, or shared virtual spaces, were the internet fad that made headlines and threatened to change the world as we know it. These open-world-like games are 3D environments that users can explore and where they can interact and transact with others. The latter option is possible because metaverses have economies fueled by the Ethereum blockchain.
Decentraland, likely the most such platform metaverse around, is home to the ICE Poker venue, a gambling establishment that houses casino games that accept ERC-20 tokens for bets. This spot welcomes somewhere around six thousand unique visitors per day. And at any given moment, more than one thousand people can play poker inside it.
Originally conceived as a VR platform, Decentraland began testing its VR capabilities in early 2022, which should soon become available for mass use.