The concept of VR is not necessarily a new one. As far back as the 1980s, we’ve been experimenting with the potential of virtual reality and its applications. As the commercial side of the industry has grown, the VR experience has become an accessible format of entertainment. Whether it’s affordable VR headsets, 360 YouTube videos, or VR-enabled online gaming, it’s clear enough that the industry as a whole is enjoying a period of rapid innovation. In just 20 years, technological developments have changed the gambling industry beyond recognition. The rate of change is astronomical and it’s paving the way for a new era where institutions in this arena will have to work hard to keep up with technology.
A Logical Step
While augmented reality (AR) content has equally blossomed in popularity, the potential for VR – and simulating complete, immersive environments – could be seen as a more attractive proposition, particularly in its ability to ‘transport’ users into new environments. The possibility of, for example, simulating a live sporting event – one in which the user could almost be ‘in the stadium’ is a transformative concept, totally rewriting the idea of attending live or exclusive events. Many gambling companies have already tried to provide platforms that are more engaging to users. Many already offer live game broadcasts, spanning Europe’s major domestic cups and leagues.This in itself was a major step forward, creating environments for users where they could remain on gambling sites throughout the events themselves, rather than having to leave apps or look away at secondary devices to watch the event itself unfold. VR seems to be a natural step from there, albeit a highly impressive one, taking the experience from a simple broadcast to a fully generated, interactive experience. It also wouldn’t be entirely new territory for the gambling industry, which makes investing in the sector slightly less risky, and is likely to help the sector enjoy further growth.
Re-inventing the Casino
VR Casinos are becoming normalized since their introduction. Offering an experience that comfortably trumps the earlier concepts of online casinos validates the implementation of VR into other betting services. The ability to communicate easily and in real-time, enjoy tailored environments and deliver more unique experiences is essentially the core of the successful digital platforms – they can allow for a deeper connection to online users who miss out on the benefits of physical locations. Similar ventures have been seen in online poker sites, where VR has also begun to rewrite the limitations of online gaming and gambling services.
The simulation of football matches is not in its first phases, 360 cameras are already being used by some stadiums, however, the major obstacle comes down to being able to deliver that sort of expansive content – typically requiring high-data consumption – in a streaming service. Football betting relies on the ability to place bets in-play as much as before events. Therefore, we can’t assume that live VR is coming in the near future until that experience can be delivered via a stream to potentially thousands of users.
It’s certainly an exciting time to see where VR is adopted next. The gambling market sits alongside live sports events, and always has. Therefore, we can see the examples of VR being increasingly used in live sports as indicators of how gambling might evolve to engage and entice new users to their platforms.