VR – a new reality for the gambling world?

In a congested and competitive market, embracing “the next big thing” can be a key differentiator. In the remote gambling world, could the next big thing be virtual reality (VR) technologies?

VR technology creates a simulated environment and presents a completely different “reality” than the one physically in front of you. The appeal for online gambling operators is obvious; potentially offering a more immersive, engaging and exciting way for consumers to interact with their games or betting services. A consumer in his or her lounge in London can suddenly be transported to a roulette table at their favourite casino in Las Vegas.

The adoption of headcams in sport could also be a game-changer for sports betting. How powerful a tool to be able to offer a VR solution whereby a consumer can watch a match from the perspective of their favourite player or ride along with a jockey as he/she crosses the line to win the Grand National. All while betting on the outcome of course!

Gambling operators who are already exploring VR likely see this as a natural response to technological advancements and a need and desire to cater to their audience, comprised of an ever-increasing pool of “millennials” – a demographic perhaps less motivated by traditional casino and betting and that wants – and, in most cases, expects – interactivity and evolution of technology.

A recent market study by Technavio predicts that the VR gambling market will register a compound annual growth rate of close to 55 per cent by 2022, and that incremental growth will be €308m between 2017 and 2022. The study posits that VR will be increasingly important for both online and land-based gambling operators, and expects mature markets, such as the UK, to lead the way.

All that being said, there remain two significant hurdles to widespread adoption of VR: (1) content; and (2) hardware. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two. Consumers must invest in the hardware and headsets in order to utilise the tech, but content creators need to attract them with engaging, cutting-edge content. The momentum is certainly there and some operators have nailed their colours to the VR mast. We now wait to see if the momentum will drive further VR investment in the gambling sector, fundamentally changing gambling operators’ strategies and materially filling their coffers. Place your bets, please!