Virtual reality has been a popular topic in the news, movies and popular culture for quite some time now, though the technology itself has not taken any noteworthy steps in the last couple of decades: until now. In a rather surprising twist the first companies to take full advantage of virtual reality and virtual gaming are a handful of online casinos and a few gaming companies, as well as the military industrial complex which uses it to train recruits. There are already several online casinos that have launched their own branded products that are just waiting for users at the moment. Now, of course the vast majority of people eyeing for an Oculus or other similar devices are not casino gamers, but rather industry experts, designers and people who are in general interested in virtual reality games.
Virtual casino, or virtual game for that matter, should not be confused with virtual reality casino or game. The term virtual tends to note an artificial, or computer generated casino as opposed to a traditional land based one. With the advent of this new type of technology this terminology is bound to change, and already customers seem to know the difference better than most casinos and companies themselves. 2016 is shaping up to be a year when we will not only enjoy another season of Game of Throne but also fully find out the potential that virtual reality devices have to offer.
So why is this considerable or even noteworthy news? Simply because it will revolutionize gaming completely, something we have been waiting for decades. The immersion into virtual reality is not the same from computer screen as it is from a product specifically designed to place you in a space and environment that only exists in the zeros and ones of an online server or your own computer, yet feels a completely separate and real environment. With Oculus Rift you will experience both virtual reality and reality in a different way. The best part is of course that you can now do it with your friends. Imagine playing with family or friends, and seeing them next to you even if you or they are thousands of miles away.
Currently most casinos offer live gaming in the form of webcams and virtual tables, which give players the chance to enjoy real dealers in an otherwise computerized environment. With enhanced graphics, social gaming and pure computing power the casinos are finally ready to move the whole experience into a virtual space that feels the same as real casinos. The one element that most online casinos are missing at the moment is the ability of players to enjoy the games and the space together. Adding this experience however comes with some difficulties, as the regulations, rules and laws around virtual reality casinos are still in their infancy.
Slots Millions – first ever virtual reality casino
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Slots Million may very well be the largest online casino in the world? It is certainly up there with 100+ different slots providers online (so far) and 3,066+ slots. But not only that, it is the first (and still only at the time of writing) fully fledged virtual reality casino in the world. Truly outstanding and with quick payouts and great customer care to boot! Now with the UKGC license in place players from the UK can now also enjoy this hugely popular casino.
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Slots Million is a Malta based online casino that can be considered to be the first ever virtual reality casino. There are other sites that boast the same, especially for poker and other table games, but these come with relatively low quality and are more of a proof of concept tryouts than fully fledged products ready and waiting for customers. The use of Slots Millions virtual reality casino does not require a device like Oculus Rift or the like, but this is of course recommended to get the actual full experience that the casino is offering for all players.
So what is the experience like? Well, impressive to say the least. Once you decide to download the software and plug in your Oculus Rift goggles you can immediately walk into the casino, which is situated at the 80th floor of a massive skyscraper and provides a view over the entire futuristic city surrounding it. Suffice to say the first look is very impressive, and with the immersion you truly feel like you are there, in a real casino. That is not to say the graphics are so impressive you cannot discern between real and virtual reality anymore: neither the computers nor the software in use is capable of producing this yet. But for the first time it is capable of creating the feeling of being there, in a virtual space instead of just staring at your monitor.
There are forty games to play at the moment, handpicked from a choice of over 1000 games that Slots Million has in its main website. Currently only Starburst is fully integrated, with work continuing on the other slots. This means that not only can you play Starburst and other similar games from a normal slot machine, but also from a widescreen view with added 3D effects, such as symbols that burst out of the screen. This is truly something different and new in the industry.
You can also of course just hang around at the bar or at the lounge, talk with your friends or meet new people. Yes, you heard me correct: you’re not alone at the casino. Other players wander around the casino and play the games just like you. This doesn’t mean that every and each player is visible at the site all the time. Once again, technological requirements hit back with a hardball. Not to mention that the casino simply isn’t popular enough yet, and not enough people have the VR devices to use it. Although you can interact with other players your gaming experience is still safe. Other players can see you play, but they cannot see your personal information such as balance, wins or anything on your screen.
For now Slots Million has the best product on the markets, and they are in an excellent position to upgrade it further. Once the graphics get improved a bit and more games are added we can expect traditional desktop gaming to disappear into annals of history. This doesn’t apply only to slots, but also on products like poker and sports betting. What will happen when we get rid of technological limitations, and companies can host social tournaments for millions of players simultaneously in a space where people can really interact with each other? It is not even a matter of if this will happen but when, and how much of a surprise it will be for users and casinos alike.
Oculus Rift – virtual reality is here to stay
Step into the rift and experience gaming as you’ve never heard, seen or imagined it before. Oculus Rift started as a teenager’s garage project, which quickly expanded in just a handful of years into a multibillion dollar company garnering support from industry giants and worldwide fame from future users. The first version of the Oculus was developed using funds gained through the Kickstart crowd funding platform during the early months of 2011. Soon after the device and the company producing it was picked up by Mark Zuckenberg to function as an independent developer under Facebook. There clearly is enough demand then from both end users and the big companies that can supply the demand. This still leaves the question of what is Oculus Rift and how is it going to fulfill the promise of revolutionizing gaming as we know it?
What is a virtual reality device and how does it work?
The Rift is by no means the first ever virtual reality device. In fact there have been countless others, and most technology companies are in the process of building their own systems and devices. The term virtual reality itself means a computer-simulated reality. In the past this basically meant replicating real and physical locations and immersing the player in those through different devices that could create artificial sensory experiences. The idea is by no means a new one, and it has featured in science fiction since the start of 20th century, including massive hits like the Matrix trilogy in the 21st century. The main issue has been the seamless integration, as well as producing the necessary hardware to run a realistic virtual reality.
With the advent of smartphones, tablets and other small and compact devices with lots of computing power, and the general experience and development in the world of IT and computers, the world of virtual gaming and devices has taken a few steps closer to reality. Or rather, we are talking about a leap so lengthy that we can start talking about Oculus Rift and similar devices as the next-generation virtual reality. Although there are several devices that seek to present the same quality and experience as the Oculus, it is best to stick to the Rift for now as it is clearly the one with the most potential and closest to an actual working device available for the masses. Affordable price and integration into existing systems is one of the main benefits the system offers.
The device itself consists of two main parts: the screen covering eyes, and the headset that provides audio. On top of this it naturally requires a computer for producing the actually experience, and the Constellation tracking system which tracks the position of the user’s head, as well as those of other possible virtual reality devices. The device itself does not generate any image, and thus a powerful computer is required to take full advantage of the resolution and high screen refresh rates. The device also comes with the option of adding further gadgets into the mix, including controllers, Oculus Touch, and your own headphones. What the future hold in this area is anyone’s guess, but no doubt the immersion will move from only covering sound and image to touch, taste and other elements that we hold to be strictly limited to reality as we experience it.
Other virtual reality devices, or the competition
Although the Rift is the most known product at the moment there is plenty of competition coming up with their own devices. Big companies like Sony, Google and Microsoft are in the forefront. Xbox and PlayStation are perhaps the most popular gaming platforms at the moment and we can expect multiple products from both companies. Google in turn has produced interesting concepts like the Google cardboard, which allows users to strap their smartphone into a cheap cardboard container that allows limited virtual reality experience. There is a risk here as well, as although such devices can give a taste of virtual reality they are not capable of producing and presenting it completely. A false image if you will, that might even scare away some potential customers.
Samsung in turn has added a mix of both, by combining the Oculus Rift with their best smartphones. Although this limits the customers to those who already own a Samsung smartphone it is a step forwards from products like Google cardboard. Inexpensive and easy to use it is a must get for those who are already Samsung customers. It is also one of the few devices that already have plenty of content available in the form of indie games and movies. Of course the quality doesn’t compare to devices that use desktop computers to power them.
Microsoft has also produced a so called Hololens. This technology is still in research, but we are seeing the first applications with a selected few games. This means that instead of producing an image for an enclosed space, like the other headsets, the hololens projects a holographic image on the lens. This means that instead of looking into the game, the game projects itself into the real world. You can watch minions run around your house, change your floor into lava, or watch a movie practically anywhere. This technology is still in development though and is only accessible for those who’ve already gathered their millions from casino slots. At the moment the price tag is around 3000 euros for a developer version
Virtual gaming aims to immerse the player in the environment and feeling of the game. This means that as soon as you put on the Oculus Rift headset you’ll step out of your room and enter another world. This applies both to visual and audio side of things, as the headset comes with 3D headphones, which can easily be replaced by your own set if necessary. Although this has been the case with earlier designs as well they have tended to suffer from high prices, low immersion, motion sickness or other technical difficulties like low refresh rate. With Oculus Rift this is no longer the case. The technical side of things has been completed to near perfection, and all the basic faults have been removed. In fact, the research and development in the field has been so fast that the company behind Oculus Rift recently announced they are already designing the successor device, and are expecting to release it within few years. This is a major improvement considering that we’ve been waiting for a device like the Rift for 20 years now.
The main issue with virtual gaming at the moment is the fact that there are almost no games that take advantage of the possibilities that the technology has created. In fact, the device has taken the world by surprise, especially considering how little time it has been in development. Game producers are however catching up, and we will see most major producers dish out their games soon enough.
The main difference is of course the feeling when you are watching the virtual world through the field of vision just inches from your eyes, instead of a television or monitor screen. This creates a true feeling of immersion and actually being there, that you will feel with full effect only once you step out of the virtual world and return to the real reality. The possibilities this creates are not yet fully understood or known, and even less explored. For now virtual gaming remains a buzzword that is waiting for both developers and gamers to reach its full potential.
A mix of things in the political landscape: responsible gaming
The main obstacle in producing a purely virtual casino is the difficulties with different licenses. For example Slots Million, currently the only online casino that has produced a fully fledged virtual experience, run into difficulties with the Malta licensing authority that was worried the experience might cause people to play irresponsibly. One of the rules that the Malta licensing authority imposed on the brand new virtual casino was including clocks in the virtual casino, so players won’t lose themselves in the games and forget the existence of the real world. There were also issues with privacy, such as revealing player cash balances, real names and other issues that remain unsolved in the sense that we have no idea how they will affect players, or the casinos themselves. Some of these fears are certainly well founded, while others seem quite ridiculous, and should be best left for individual players to decide.
The main challenges then remain much the same in virtual reality as they are in land and internet based casinos: what are you allowed to do for enticing customers, and how well can you integrate the player, the customer and the gaming experience into the mix. The greatest challenges also offer the best rewards and possibilities, and a casino that can successfully navigate the legal and ethical requirements around virtual reality and social gaming is certain to hit it big and create a whole new experience.
Online casinos are in an interesting position as they have both the player base and the overall gaming experience that allows them to take full effect and use of products like Oculus Rift. When compared to normal PC or console games the virtual reality experience only enhances the gameplay and immersion into the specific world or game. With casinos we are looking at a whole new kind of gaming and social experience, and with it a whole new sort of legislation. As said all of these are upcoming things that will certainly require a lot of discussion, experimenting and sorting out before the full potential of virtual reality in iGaming reveals itself to the masses of players and casinos.
The future of social gaming
When you step into a real land based casino you will be met with action, sounds, and people scurrying back and forth. This is something that is almost completely missing in online casinos, and also something that virtual reality can introduce. You won’t only experience the sounds and feeling of being there, but the feeling of being there with other players. At the moment the biggest casinos might have millions of players, but you’ll still feel pretty solitary no matter what game you play. What if you could discuss with your fellow players as you play? Not to mention the ability to bluff in games like poker, or calling someone’s bluff because you managed to read their body language correctly. How about being able to walk out of the casino and into a café? Or simply jump into another game, or travel through landscapes you’ve never seen before.
It’s hard to say how future things will shape out to be and even experts on the field struggle to find clear answer or predictions of things to come. The only thing that remains certain is that virtual reality is finally here to stay, and it will change things. Most likely we are looking at a service that can combine and present all digital entertainment in a new way. There is also another path, which is to impose the virtual reality in the real world. This technology is still much further away than devices like Oculus Rift, and it has failed big previously even when tried by such companies as Google.
Although 2016 is clearly the year that will kick start the era of virtual gaming we are not likely to see immediate success or explosive growth until there are some actual products, games and virtual worlds worth visiting. Most of the currently available products are more akin to demos and experiments, with only a few fully fledged products like the aforementioned Slots Million virtual casino, or a handful of PC games. On top of this the legal and license issues need to be resolved for casinos and other games to take full advantage of what Oculus Rift has to offer. What we can say for sure is that from technical side of things we’ve finally reached a point that makes virtual reality a possibility the industry has dreamed of for decades now.
Microgaming heading into the VR casino sector
February 2016: Microgaming premier their Virtual Reality Roulette.
Microgaming showed off a demo of their upcoming (and now award winning award-winning) Virtual Reality Roulette game to the visitors at ICE Totally Gaming conference 2016 held in London. Housed in a futuristic looking “CRYO lab” made specifically for the event, the prototype VR game was designed to test the immersive potential of 3D technology within the online gambling industry. As you can see from the video, the reception to the wearable tech demo was very positive.
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Try a trustworthy casino instead
Casinos run by these Virtual Casino Group operators:
Cool Cat Casino
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The Virtual Casino
Slots of Vegas
Vegas Strip Casino
Club Player Casino
Royal Ace Casino
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Planet 7 Casino
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Are these virtual casinos licensed?
In the past these casinos had a business license from Costa Rica which they claimed to be a real casino license. The casinos (or at least many of them) have since dispensed with the Costa Rica license and although their website states they are fully licensed, when questioned via email they do not respond and when questioned via live chat the agents close the chat windows. Some of the group do not even pretend to have a license and instead have a disclaimer which reads “It is the responsibility of the player to make sure that they are abiding by all laws in their jurisdiction in regards to gambling and gambling online”. This is a nice cop out and will likely look good to the lesser informed gambler.
Are the Virtual Casinos trustworthy and do they pay out?
Sadly no. The history of the Virtual Group is long and messy with an incredible number of complaints of non payment of winnings, player balance confiscation and in rare instances where players are being paid, these are very often limited to $200 per week if the player is lucky with the sole aim of playuers paying back their entire bank balances before withdrawals are completed.
Do we recommend the Virtual Casino Group of Casinos?
Obviously not. We demand excellence in online casinos and the Virtual Casino chain are very far removed from what we are looking for. There are plenty of good online casinos and you can find a good selection of top sites on our online casino reviews page and elsewhere on Yes No Casino.
What does wiki say about virtual casinos?
Nothing to do with the Virtual Casino Group but it is something that pops up when researching this group so we may as well throw in a little quote from them!
Online casinos, also known as virtual casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of traditional (“brick and mortar”) casinos. Online casinos enable gamblers to play and wager on casino games through the Internet. It is a prolific form of online gambling.
Online casinos generally offer odds and payback percentages that are a bit higher than land-based casinos. Some online casinos claim higher payback percentages for slot machine games, and some publish payout percentage audits on their websites. Assuming that the online casino is using an appropriately programmed random number generator, table games like blackjack have an established house edge. The payout percentage for these games are established by the rules of the game.
Looking for a Virtual Reality Casino?
We have written a comprehensive article on virtual reality casinos (see top of this page) and virtual reality technology here. Don’t forget to also check out the worlds first virtual reality casino at SlotsMillion.