Tech advances closing the gap between online and land-based casinos
June 26, 2018 3:01 AM
by David Cash
It’s one of those questions that has been being asked since the first online casino opened its virtual doors way back in the late 1990s. Which is the better option for casino lovers? Playing online, or hitting the strip in Vegas? Until now, really thinking about it has shown that the question itself is something of a nonsense.
The two complement each other and coexist peacefully together, creating something of a virtuous circle. Newcomers to casino gaming can learn the game online, then advance to the atmospheric sights and sounds of a real casino, while experienced casino goers can also enjoy playing their favorite games on PC or smartphone. That, at least, was the case. But new technological innovations are now seeing the virtual casinos exhibit some distinct advantages.
Cryptocurrency delivering innovative payment methods
20 years ago, the payment mechanisms were the Achilles Heel of the online casino sites. People were reluctant to share bank details over the internet and were suspicious of online payments in general. Today, we buy things online every day, and for all its risks as an investment, the advent of cryptocurrency is perfect for the gambling sector. Visiting a Bitcoin casino allows gamers to take advantage of blockchain security, financial anonymity and the most cost effective and speedy way of getting funds into and out of an online casino account without the delays and commissions that other methods can incur.
Social gaming and online casino culture merging
The advantage with land-based casinos has always been that to visit one is not just about the games and the gambling. It is a social event, a chance to play games with friends and enjoy the experience together. Social gaming via platforms like Facebook and even on the broader eSports stage is nothing new, and so it is little surprise that this is becoming a growing aspect of online casinos.
It's not just the casinos getting social, though – the connection works both ways. Zynga offered a real money online poker game via Facebook as long ago as 2014, although for obvious reasons, this was only available in the UK and other selected jurisdictions. The changing legislative landscape in the US lead to more providers offering these kinds of opportunities on social media channels.
Increased choice and better gamification
The Supreme Court ruling is not the only legislative change that has rocked the gambling sector. Changes to the rules relating to skill-based gambling have allowed game developers to get far more imaginative when designing new slot games. As such, the spinning reels are only a small component of the overall game.
How does that affect the balance between online and land-based casinos? The point is that the technology looks impressive, but at heart, it is only a whole lot of binary code, and an online site can have an almost indefinite number of game choices and can add new ones instantly.
Virtual is getting real
A year ago, everyone wanted an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and people were already getting their orders in ready for Christmas. OK, so there were limited games available, and a few years from now, we will probably look at those first headsets the way we view a Motorola DynaTAC 8000 today, but make no mistake, this is the future of gaming, and the online casino sector is at the forefront.
It’s all about that “casino experience” – combine social gaming and VR technology, and you can join your friends at the roulette wheel or poker table for a virtual casino night that will become gradually less distinguishable from the real thing. Think Star Trek holodeck – it is only a matter of time.
More competition means better deals
There is one advantage that online casinos have that is not technological in itself, but comes as a consequence of these other factors. Increased popularity means a growing sector, which in turn means more new online casinos every day. Competition is always good news for customers, and the providers will keep pushing the boundaries, developing new technology and offering even sweeter deals to get new members onboard.
It’s good for the gamblers and great for the online casino sector to keep the technological developments coming. Whether it’s such good news for the land-based casinos, however, is another question entirely.
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