One of the most interesting things to do in our industry is look at the current state of gambling technology and project where it might go in the future. Sometimes we get our projections right, other times we are dead wrong. That's okay. Just like anything else relating to gambling, you win some of the time and lose the rest of the time.
In light of that, we ran across an interesting piece published by Chart Attack in early October 2020. Contributor Mitrovman Mitrovski used the piece to discuss six technologies likely to be at the center of online gambling innovation in the years to come. Not surprising, cryptocurrency was third on the list. In our opinion, it should have been first.
In this post, we will discuss all six technologies and where they currently stand. Needless to say that online gambling itself is a product of technology. As the industry moves forward, innovation is what will keep it at the forefront of the gambling space.
1. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
Mitrovski's take on cryptocurrency focused squarely on payments. There is the blockchain aspect as well but let us discuss payments first. Cryptocurrency certainly changes the way payments are made in the online gambling world. And for the record, the gambling industry was one of the first to embrace cryptocurrency.
Online gamblers are quickly coming to realize that cryptocurrencies like BTC and LTH offer an entirely new way to deposit and withdraw. Cryptocurrency payments are fast, secure, and easy. They also offer a measure of anonymity. That is important for people who have to gamble on overseas websites because online gambling is not allowed in their countries.
The other nice thing about cryptocurrency as a payment system is that it creates an unchangeable record. For instance, every BTC transaction is recorded in the Bitcoin ledger as part of a block. Once blocks have been verified and added to the chain, they become permanent. They cannot be deleted or modified in any way.
This is good for gamblers in the sense that there is always a permanent record of how much they deposited versus how much they withdrew. It is good for operators as well. The blockchain ledger provides a permanent record of all transactions for accounting purposes. The unchangeable nature of the ledger also prevents charge-backs.
Moving on to the blockchain aspect, its benefits are not limited only to payments and accounting. Entire casino games can be built on a foundation of blockchain in order to prove fairness and prevent fraud. For that matter operators can base everything they do - from accounting to memberships and fair games - on a blockchain platform.
2. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a fairly new technology that is still not close to being mature. No matter though because what it is already capable of is pretty outstanding. Just about anyone can go down to the electronics store and purchase an affordable VR headset for their smartphone. Put it on, run an app, and stand amazed at how realistic it all feels.
Mitrovski predicts a day when online gambling sites will fully embrace VR for the ultimate experience. Imagine a VR headset and software that puts you on the center of the casino floor whenever you feel like gambling. You can walk around, choose a slot or table game, and start playing.
Imagine walking up to the virtual cashier and handing her some BTC in exchange for casino tokens. When you're all done, go back to the cashier and cash in any remaining chips for BTC. Virtual reality will make you feel like you are really there.
3. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is the younger sibling of virtual reality. The big difference between the two is as simple as the amount of virtual stimuli. With VR, everything you see on your screen or headset is virtual. With AR, most of what you see is reality. It is augmented by additional data that makes the experience more enjoyable.
A crude example of AR already exists in the gambling world. It is found in live dealer games, games that connect you to a studio where real dealers are dealing real cards or spinning real roulette wheels. You see and hear all of the action thanks to live audio and video streams. At the same time, graphic overlays provide a means for you to interact and play, just as if you were playing a video game.
Now, imagine taking that same technology and multiplying it many times over. Mitrovski imagines augmented reality that one day makes it possible for you to turn your living or dining room into a virtual casino floor. Multiple screens will post different games of varying types. You walk around the room and play as you see fit, interacting with live dealers in some cases and software simulations in others.
We are not so sure that Mitrovski is on the right track here with AR. Perhaps a more likely scenario is one that sees AR being developed mainly as a way to enhance existing live dealer games. But we'll see. We know AR is being developed right now. We just do not know where it is going.
4. Wearable Apps
Next on Mitrovski's list are wearable apps. In other words, he mentions gambling apps for smart watches. If they ever become reality, online gambling would become even more portable than it now is. You wouldn't have to pull your phone out of your pocket to play a few rounds of blackjack or spin the reels on a slot game.
Again, we're not so sure that this technology is all that innovative. It is also hard to imagine that most online gamblers would find such an experience pleasing. Let's face it, smart watch screens are pretty small. They do not leave much room for a full gaming experience involving a modern video slot or table game.
Another thing to consider is processing power. We have gotten computer processors about as small as we can make them without sacrificing power. It is quite possible that a modern online casino would be too involved for a smart watch. But then again, who knows what the innovators will come up with down the road? They may be working on super powerful processors that would fit in the average smart watch with room to spare.
5. Security Enhancements
There is certainly plenty of action in the next category of innovations: security enhancements. Tech companies and gambling operators alike understand how important security is. They know that in an industry involving as much money as gambling, they have to work harder than ever to make sure that customers are not ripped off.
One possibility Mitrovski suggested is facial recognition technology. If we understand him correctly, operators would require a facial scan before logging into a gambling account. The same goes for making deposits. In that sense, facial recognition would be invaluable.
As things currently stand, know-your-customer (KYC) regulations in many countries require gambling operators to verify customer identities before accepting deposits. The most common way to do this is to ask the customer to take a photograph of a driver's license or some other form of ID and send it, along with a selfie, to the operator for review.
Facial recognition software could bring an end to that sort of thing. Imagine verifying your identity once, and only once, through a service that specializes in the service. Next time you want to join a new casino, a facial scan will compare your face with information in a central database to verify your identity.
It is plausible that the same types of technology will be implemented to make cryptocurrency transactions safer as well. Someday you might have to have your face scanned to buy or sell tokens on your favorite exchange. Who knows?
6. Gambling in the Cloud
This final category of technology is already making huge strides in the gambling industry. It is none other than gambling in the cloud. These days, just about everything worth anything runs in the cloud. That is certainly true of online gambling.
Did you know that the vast majority of gambling sites do not actually host their own games on their own servers? They license games from well-known developers who host what they license on their own cloud servers. Online operators simply tie into those servers to make the games available.
As cloud computing advances, expect online gambling to offer ever more complex experiences. We have already transitioned from video slots and table games to live sports betting. In the future, who knows what else cloud computing will allow us to gamble on? And just as a side note, imagine combining cloud computing with VR and AR to create the ultimate experience. Just thinking about it staggers the imagination.
Online gambling has come a long way in the last 20 years. Ever since that first online game published by Microgaming in the late 1990s, innovators have been pushing the envelope year after year. Some of the innovations they have come up with are truly remarkable. But what they might come up with in the future we can only imagine. The one thing we can say for sure is that it is bound to be good.