Casino innovations in games – Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Technology Products Awards 2015

The Casino Journal’s Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Technology Products Awards is perhaps not the shortest or easiest title to say, but what the title lacks for in catchiness it more than makes up for in prestige.

Each year the industry highlights its finest innovations and inventions from the previous year, and twenty finalists are then selected by a panel of judges to make up the shortlist. These twenty are then featured in the Casino Journal’s June edition. Of those twenty, four are then selected, with the Platinum, Gold and Silver winners chosen by the judges. These are then presented the following month at the Casino Marketing and Technology Conference held in Las Vegas, along with an ‘Attendees Choice Award’, which is chosen by the visitors at said conference.

Because the prizes are for the innovations of the previous year, the 2016 summer awards will therefore see the announcement of the shortlisted companies and the winning companies from 2015. Everyone in the industry keenly views the competition, as it showcases the finest in casino evolution. Though there’s no way to know for sure what will be turning up in Vegas this July, if the past entries are any indication, the shortlist is sure to be impressive.

Game changers

For example, last year one of the entrants was the Arc Double Cabinet. Designed by Aristocrat, the Arc Double was a new take on the traditional cabinet used for slot machines. Twice as high and with double touch screens, its ergonomic design was made for it to stand out on a crowded casino floor, and it was equipped with state of the art graphics and sound systems for the best gaming experience.

The inventions presented are all literally game changers. Baccarat, for example, is one of the highest profit games on the entire casino floor, making it a prime target for those who are less scrupulous in their efforts to make a profit. This means that additional security is often required around baccarat games, which can be extremely costly. One of the innovations presented, the Safe-Bacc, not only shuffles but also verifies the cards it deals, in order to keep the game secure. It provides a service with the speed of a top-level dealer, whilst ensuring that additional security is not required. In addition, it can link the results of the game directly to devices.

And the winner is…

Despite these innovations and more, last year’s first prize was not given to any of the examples described above. Instead, it was given to the Mobile Connect Suite, developed by the company SkyWire, which allowed not just casinos, but also services such as restaurants and hotels, to communicate with their customers via text message or coupon, instead of by email or pager. This allows companies to communicate more efficiently and allows them to be more flexible, increasing customer satisfaction and therefore loyalty. This is especially useful in these hospitality industries, as some of them are sometimes known to be slow to adapt to technology.

Given the shortlists presented in previous years, whatever turns up on that list is sure to add new spins to the gaming market, though unfortunately we will have to wait until summer to find out what they are.

Casino trends – virtual reality casinos

Creating a Virtual Reality, or VR, has been a human obsession since Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double (1938), through to Heilig’s Sensorama device, and right up to today’s Oculus Rift headsets. The Sega VR headset gave gamers some sense of an immersive experience back in the 1990s, but the application potential for the recently released Oculus Rift is set to far outstrip any predecessors. Virtual Reality is no longer solely the purview of the gaming industry, though they are the pioneering developers. Nowadays VR is used in the military, engineering, art and fashion, business, and healthcare. So it is no surprise to see the gambling industry ready and willing to use VR for its own ends, with the development of virtual casinos.

Even before Oculus Rift was available for purchase, online casino operators were preparing for its deployment. By late 2015 the SlotsMillion company had already developed and tested its own virtual gaming rooms. Their developers created an immersive casino environment set on the eightieth floor of a futuristic skyscraper. VR visitors could treat this like any actual casino: there is a bar to hang out at; a dizzying number of 3D games in which to wager; and even a magnificently rendered cityscape outside the windows of the gaming room. One of the major benefits of VR over in-browser gambling is the visitor’s ability to interact with other punters or croupiers as if they were in the room with them. This social aspect is something that’s been missing from online gaming until now, and will no doubt serve as a major selling point.

Regulation

As with any new medium, regulation of VR gaming rooms stands to be a source of much debate. SlotsMillion wisely consulted with the Maltese regulators at all points of the development process. Issues that were addressed included the inclusion of clocks on the VR casino’s walls, considered important so that punters would not lose track of time in their new immersive environment, even though regular casinos are not yet required to do the same. The company also took on board the regulator’s recommendations on keeping winning or losing totals completely private in the VR world.

Will it take off?

VR casinos are, so far, only in their earliest incarnations, and while online bettors lean towards better and more realistic online gambling experiences, there are some factors that might make VR slow to catch on. Foremost of those is the cost of the equipment required – an Oculus Rift headset, with an estimated delivery date of August 2016, will set you back €530. On top of that, if your PC isn’t quite up to scratch to run the VR software, you are looking at another expensive upgrade to a gaming machine. That’s quite an outlay for most casual punters, who may well stick to browsers and tablet apps until the prices come down.

It may be some time before VR casinos overcome their novelty to become the done thing. Certainly the gambling industry has plenty to work on until then. Unregulated, illegal VR gambling spots may spring up and damage the honest operator’s reputations. All of this notwithstanding, the move to attract a new generation of punters by making online gambling more like skill-based gaming, has potential to make virtual reality casinos more popular than the ‘real’ thing.

“Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality is coming, and it is bringing a new casino experience!” Virtual Reality – the next big thing

Since the widespread outbreak of the Internet and all the possibilities it brought with it, many people have been asking the important question – what´s next? Well, we can tell you what´s next. Virtual Reality. VR-goggles are already becoming more and more widely available, and some Kickstarter projects even include simple VR-glasses that fit right on your mobile, opening up the field for new apps that use the built-in power of smart phones to create digital worlds you can’t tell apart from the real one. The casino industry has been at the very forefront of this development, and has been getting ready for the influx of Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is the most famous Virtual Reality headset out there, and it is likely to play a large part in the future in what we understand as entertainment. Facebook purchased the company for two billion dollars, which means they probably have big plans for the new product. Released just this year (2016), Oculus Rift and other virtual reality headsets will definitely be coming to a shop near you, so get ready!

Virtual Casino

Some casinos have already developed their own applications in order to accommodate the coming technology. SlotsMillion was among the first out of the gate, and if you are the proud owner of a VR-headset, you could already be trying out about forty of their most popular games through a virtual casino. Yes, you can walk around, enjoy the view, and spin the wheels of slot machines just like you would in a normal, landbased casino. Only, you are in the comfort of your own living room, staring into a high tech gadget that costs about six hundred dollars. The best experience is, of course, through the Oculus Rift headset, but you can also use your normal computer to check out the casino in 3D. Walk around, look out the window or go straight for your favourite slot machine. This is just a preview of what is coming. The future still holds many secrets, and we must count ourselves very lucky to be alive in such an exciting and audaciously creative time.

Games of the future

Innovations are coming from all directions, and some game developers have already switched their focus to 3D-games and VR-games. Some new companies have appeared as well, such as LuckyVR – a brand new virtual reality software developer that is set to make a big name for itself in the industry. Only time will tell exactly what the future holds, but these guys have a pretty good idea about where we are heading. Games of the future will be nothing like the ones we have today. Not just casino games, but all games in general. Actually, life in general will take on a much more VR-dominated form. Imagine being able to walk around shopping malls and plazas from your home! Picking out clothes, gadgets, taking up loans, and visiting friends or family who live far away. Virtual reality is revolutionary, just like the Internet was back in the day. Some have voiced fears that humans will spend much more time at home when VR-headsets become widespread, but that is nonsense. We spent just as much time at home before the Internet, only we were reading books, listening to radio or watching TV. Now we have the Internet, and soon virtual reality will become just as ubiquitous.