Roulette, Bitcoin, and VR


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The last decade or so has brought about the greatest and most numerous developments in roulette in its storied history. Beginning with the advent of the internet, the popular game made its debut in online casinos during the 2000s, a technological shift that served as a precursor to the arrival of mobile and app-based gaming.

However, roulette hasn’t really changed at all, just the numerous ways players access the game and its variants. The next few years could see the iGaming landscape change once more with improved access to Virtual Reality (VR) headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the rise of Satoshi Nakamoto’s “magic internet money”, Bitcoin.

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Roulette” (CC BY 2.0) by Sonny Side Up!

Bitcoin & iGaming

Bitcoin is the strange progeny of the internet. Invented by a mysterious person or collective called Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is created from mathematical equations and represents something of an ideal in the finance world – it can’t be tampered with or counterfeited and banks have no power over its usage.

Nakamoto’s ‘cryptocurrency’ has a number of incidental benefits for casino operators and their players; chiefly, that payments are immediate, irreversible, and private. It’s no surprise that almost half (40%) of all transactions made in Bitcoin are to or from online casinos and the lion’s share of Bitcoin advertising comes from the iGaming sector.

Bitcoin casino is so lucrative that many websites include the means for generating the currency on their sites, whether it’s through conventional fiat-to-Bitcoin exchanges or access to Bitcoin ‘faucets’, which reward users with small amounts of the currency for completing tasks such as filling in Captcha forms.

A good example of the above is Vegas Casino, one of the 150+ iGaming websites in 2016 to operate in Bitcoin exclusively. The site offers games ranging from slots, bitcoin roulette, poker, and blackjack with the added benefit of instant payouts worldwide, something that is far from standard in the casino sector.

With the UK Gambling Commission recently adding Bitcoin to a list of recognised currencies for both cash outs and deposits, the likelihood is that Bitcoin-only casinos will begin to move out of their niche and towards more mainstream acceptance in the New Year.

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Remote Theater mit Oculus Rift” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by boellstiftung

Virtual Reality

VR has long been a possible but untapped area of gaming (Nintendo’s infamous Virtua Boy came out in 1995 and lived and died in less than a year) but the price of entry is steep even in 2016. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both retail for the wrong side of $700, which means that mobile VR devices – the Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard – have something of a monopoly on affordable headsets.

It’s a bit of a shame as VR roulette recently made its way to the Oculus with a title from casino game developer, Microgaming. VR Roulette offers a conventional roulette experience in a surreal setting; the dealer is a robot and the table is floating in space. It’s the most recent example of iGaming’s drive to make casino more immersive, with poker, slots, and even horseracing getting the VR treatment this year.

The Oculus Rift-style of VR allows the player to interact with the roulette table and the dealer in a way that isn’t possible with devices like Google Cardboard by projecting their own hands and hand movements into the world. In other words, a player could place their chips realistically.

Both VR casino and Bitcoin are in their ascendency. It might be a few years before they become the preferred options for gamers but the potential benefits for immersion and realism (VR) and payment security at the table (Bitcoin) are undeniable.