“Technology is the skin of our species” or so said Terence McKenna. Furthermore, technology has also been described as the Seventh Kingdom of Life, that is, the Technium. As a matter of fact, the very technology we create plays a role in forging who we are and become through code/spaces, described by James Bridle in his book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future. Indubitably, technology has altered the landscape of the casino experience, specifically, digitally-enabled experiences. Philosophically, technology is the element that is redefining the liminal places between people’s actual and digital experiences. The casino experience is not any different, being permeated by various technologies whose sole purpose is to decrease the liminality between the different casino experiences, the games, and the human condition (for instance, catching a break from the laborious drudgery of work-a-day lives). These technological trends are as follows:
As modern users demand a simpler and faster experience, the casino business will have to face all these issues at once sooner or later-from blockchain-based accounting and cashouts in cryptocurrency or tokenized fiat, to enforcing responsible gaming. Blockchain applications such as Bitcoin have enabled millions of people to access casino games that weren’t easily available. Progressively, casinos that offer Bitcoin slots games have thrived online in the past few years and their popularity is only set to grow. Blockchain has the capacity to provide solutions to critical issues of the casino business-in areas of accounting, payment rails, regulation, and security while bridging the gap between online and physical casinos. Blockchain is also ensuring that games are provably fair.
Data is the opium of the corporations. For any technology that needs to deploy, it has to be able to offer insight through the amount of information that needs to be collected. For decades, the business of the casino has had quite elaborate departments of data analytics since the arrival of the casino management system. But with the rise of the digital casino experience, Big Data analytics has never been this important. Innovative products have come into the market and will continue to do so at an unprecedented rate. The insights derived can be used for aggressive marketing campaigns, but the Gaming Control Board, for example, has set guidelines to preclude companies from motivating irresponsible gambling behaviour without stifling innovation at the same time. Moreover, one element that Big Data can benefit both the casino and the gamer is gaming revenue, that is, technologically-powered measurement involving probability. In this regard, gaming revenue can be viewed into instances- the actual loss and theoretical loss. This way, a gambler’s game can be ameliorated while at the same time a casino can leverage the weaknesses in a gamer’s game.
This is one of the brilliant technologies filling in the liminal spaces alluded to at the outset. Globally, the VR headset market has been nascent. To boot, a great number of casino games are being developed as software payload for this hardware. VR is particularly convenient for those players who prefer playing at the comfort of their home but still experience the real flavours of casino games such as Poker and Blackjack. Virtual Reality combines colourful graphics to enliven the immersion process. You can engage with the games in 360-degree video and 3D graphics. Interestingly, you can play with real money within the immersive experience of Virtual Reality.
Augmented Reality is a type of technology that superimposes virtual images on real objects. This technology is on par with VR in redefining the casino experience. More research is needed, but this is a trend to look out for in the gambling and gaming world. Imagine a virtual live dealer at your doorstep, without being at your doorstep, which means augmented gameplay experiences.
Today, AI has become mainstream technology-it’s how Google ranks search results, how Amazon knows you like even before you think it, not to mention Siri and Alexa that make our lives a little bit more interesting by chatting with us. Computers have been known to excel in games such as chess and AlphaGo, beating the most world-renown human players. And in that respect, gambling offers rich ground for machine-learning systems. As a result, machine learning-based AI gambling systems have surpassed human skills in gaming. We have seen that AI today is more capable of bluffing and executing a hand than gamblers who are professionally skilled. Overwhelmingly, AI has been proven to be more adept at beating humans at their own gambling games. For example, there is a system known as Liberatus developed by Carnegie Mellon University that beat three professional poker players, eventually costing them $1.76 million.
Wearable technology is becoming part and parcel of today’s society, underpinned by our obsession with data and making technology part of our skin. Smartwatches are leading in this plight, but increasingly, casino operators are wary of the risks posed by this technology when it comes to the integrity of gaming. Why? Because of system infiltration. This is more of a concern of land-based casinos. Majorly, online casinos have welcomed wearable tech because of the ease of access without necessarily using the phone. According to eMarketer, approximately 25% of US adults, that is, 60 million were expected to use a wearable device for at least a month in 2019.
Fairness in gambling means that the playing field is level and each player has an equal chance of losing and winning. That said, the nature of gambling is that there is something to gain and lose. And because of this, it has been difficult to make sure that there is fair play in gambling without necessarily involving a third party to come in and be an overseer. However, it appears that quantum mechanics may provide a solution. To this effect, a group of researchers in Bristol and China wrote a paper in which they developed a methodology for two parties to gamble fairly. The authors believe that ‘quantum gambling’ could one day be useful to casinos, especially online casinos.