As online gambling purveyors look for new ways to enhance the customer experience, offering more variety in ways to place bets is a top priority. Through VR, operators are now able to place customers in virtual casinos and other gaming areas, putting a completely new spin on playing casino games such as online poker or mobile slots. It’s precisely this type of innovation that has seen numerous online casinos embrace VR, signalling a rapid rise for this mind-bending technology over the next few years.
Huge Growth Forecast
As the technology continues to evolve and major companies such as Samsung and Apple invest heavily in it, VR looks poised to make its impact felt in gambling circles. This is an opinion shared by digital market research specialist Juniper, which recently released a study into augmented reality and predicted big things for VR and online gambling.
Among Juniper’s key findings was that betting activity within VR is set to skyrocket. In fact, the company is forecasting an increase of 800 per cent in gross VR wagers over the next five years, rising from $58.5 million in 2016 to over $500 million in 2021. This spike, Juniper argues, will come predominantly through high-stakes bettors that are more likely to fully embrace VR wagering.
The research also prognosticated the majority of VR gambling to take place in online casinos. This runs in line with market trends in the online gambling industry, where the casino sector has recorded strong growth in recent years. Juniper anticipates that 40% of online wagers placed in 2021 will take place in casinos, paving the way for an influx of VR casino software. Mobile gambling hasn’t been left out of Juniper’s favourable forecasts either, with a 10% annual rise in gross wagers predicted on mobile devices over the next three years. This suggests a host of VR mobile betting apps will flood the market in the near future.
Millennials Tipped to Drive VR’s Growth
One of the key reasons behind the anticipated growth of VR in the gambling industry is the manner in which wearable technology has been embraced by millennials. Gen Y has developed a strong linking for products such as the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear and Fitbit, all of which allow them to connect with a variety of tasks in more engaging ways. Getting into the habit of wearing VR headsets for betting purposes is thus expected to be seamless for this target group.
VR will likely attract an even younger user base to online gambling in the form of video game players. Already accustomed to wearing VR headsets, this market is likely to seek out new platforms on which to use the technology. It suggests a new generation of bettors will be a key target audience of gambling operators.
A Unique Online Gambling Experience
Whether its millennials or younger bettors that VR sways, a more interactive and realistic gambling experience awaits those that embrace the technology. A major appeal in gambling terms will be VR’s ability to teleport bettors to real-world locations where a much more exciting and interactive online betting experience takes place. This can include anything from the world-renowned Palms casino in Las Vegas to a personalised poker room where bettors sit across the table from their friends.
While some of these virtual gambling experiences have only been drafted thus far, many have already hit the market. For example, gambling software developer Microgaming has created a VR roulette table and a virtual casino where players can sit at a slots machine or at a Black Jack table. This type of betting experience will become increasingly prominent in the near future, as will a variety of VR mobile betting apps.
User Uptake Challenges
For all the promising forecasts, VR betting does face some key challenges before becoming a staple in the industry. The often prohibitive cost of VR devices is one of the hurdles facing gambling operators, as purchasing a new VR headset is a hefty expenditure for bettors accustomed to downloading mobile apps for free. Additionally, VR headsets have yet to be embraced by consumers to the level of other wearable technologies such as smart watches. The future nevertheless appears bright. Existing VR clientele, tallied with an anticipated rise in popularity of the technology and predicted drop offs in its cost, suggest the rise of VR gambling is imminent.