Casinos have been popular attractions across the U.S. for more than a century. Sure, the games played and the technology involved may have changed, but people still visit physical casinos in droves to spin the slots, play poker and table games, and enjoy the atmosphere. Even with that being the case though, we’re likely to see more change moving forward. Younger generations have different interests and preferences –– and most notably don’t play slot machines, a fact that has long concerned casino operators. And on top of this demographic shift, changes in technology and regulation are poised to affect the industry as well.
With those factors in mind, here are some of the specific ways in which we believe casino entertainment is likely to change.
As we have suggested previously, the spread of virtual reality casinos is imminent. In fact, this is ever more the case now that multiple major tech companies are effectively competing to develop the most appealing and immersive “metaverse” spaces. These virtual environments are designed to allow people to perform everyday activities like talking with friends, going shopping, and, of course, playing games. Within this scope of activity, some metaverse casinos have already emerged, and it’s essentially inevitable that we’ll see more of them. In time, there’s every chance that major online and in-person casino companies alike invest substantial money and energy into crafting highly detailed (and likely lucrative) metaverse entertainment hubs where users can sit down at poker tables, socialize with other players, win prizes, and so on in a way that feels quite realistic.
Video Games in Casinos
As we mentioned above, younger gamers aren’t as interested in some of the classic casino games (most notably slots). This, coupled with the likely arrival of more virtual and metaverse alternatives, poses a problem for casino operators who need to drive in-person engagement. And in response to this challenge, reports surfaced a few years ago about casinos embracing video games, basically, as a means of reaching out to millennials and Gen Z. Now, we haven’t seen the kind of shift from slots to arcade-style gaming that some anticipated yet –– perhaps in part due to what was in effect a two-year industry pause on account of the pandemic. But the issue of younger generations’ lack of interest in slots remains, and thus so does some possibility that the future of live casinos involves more traditional video games infused with gambling elements.
Shifting Poker Landscape
The recent pandemic led to explosive growth in online poker popularity, with multiple major gaming companies having reported spikes in revenue and activity. And while widespread online poker bans have kept the U.S. from being a major part of this trend, there has been progress in recent years, with more states making online poker legal. Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have all gotten on board, and efforts to follow suit in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Missouri are well underway. As more states embrace online poker, it will not mean that people stop playing in casinos altogether; Nevada was the first state to make the change, and Vegas poker rooms remain crowded. However, we can likely expect some shift over time from these physical poker rooms toward online environments. At the very least, some of the short-range tourism –– whereby New Yorkers venture into Atlantic City to play poker, for instance –– may quiet down if legal online poker is widespread.
Not all changes will relate to gaming, either. Some will have to do with the sports gambling side of casinos. Already, major casino sportsbooks –– like those at Caesars Palace in Vegas or the FanDuel Sportsbook at Bally’s in Atlantic City –– provide comfortable and entertaining places for guests to watch and bet on sports. These are essentially high-end sports bars that turn the act of placing a bet into more of a prolonged activity, for those who want it. Moving forward however, we would expect to see these same sportsbooks go a step further and embrace immersion through virtual reality. Already, opportunities to watch sports in VR have emerged, from the Super Bowl to the last World Cup. And while these experiences have gotten mixed reviews, they’re only likely to get better. Don’t be surprised if, in a few years’ time, major casino sportsbooks give you the opportunity to order a drink, strap on a headset, and virtually transport yourself to a prime seat at an event you can bet on in real time.
A Growing Crypto Casino Industry
As we alluded to, online gambling in various forms is slowly being legalized around the country. But as this trend continues, it won’t just boost traditional gambling and gaming platforms. We’re also likely to see the emergence of a new class of crypto casinos. Recent surveys have indicated that one in five adults have dealt in cryptocurrency in one way or another, and 42% of all people between 18 and 34 have “traded or used” it. At the same time, dozens of online casinos have already made the decision to accept crypto deposits and/or pay out crypto winnings. These trends make for a clear indication that however casino entertainment evolves in the future, it is likely to include crypto casino platforms –– and possibly even options for crypto payments at live casinos seeking to tap into the trend.
Casinos are in constant evolution, always seeking ways to engage audiences and expand activity. In some cases, the changes this evolution brings about may not be easy to predict. But the suggestions above are based on existing trends, emerging technology, and clear indications. However, casinos look a few years from now, we expect elements of the considerations above to be in place.