No, the introduction of the metaverse won’t necessarily lead to all of us being plugged onto machines in a few years’ time. At least we hope so. 2021 was the first time the wider public became acquainted with this strange concept. A loud minority started parroting dystopian sentiments, immediately thinking that this is the end of traditional socializing, as we know it.
However, most people were thrilled at the thought of a virtual 3D world with unlimited activities to enjoy. One of the activities that got the most attention was gambling. While going to virtual Vegas sure seems like an experience worth having, there are still some questions awaiting to be answered.
Most of them are practical, but there are some that bring the topic of ethics into the mix. And with a concept as exciting as the metaverse, it’s worth looking into some potential answers. The metaverse is, after all, the future of entertainment, right?
Everyone and their dog know that gambling is an activity in which you cannot win. A big win here and there might make a player confident, but the house always has the edge at the end of the day. Since minors don’t have sufficient skills in money management, nor are they mature enough, gambling is outlawed for them.
To enforce this online, the UK Gambling Commission requires everyone to verify their identity. This effort has been much appreciated by the British public and media, as it has yielded significant results. But how will this be handled in the metaverse?
Existing in a whole virtual world isn’t a new concept. While the term was coined in a 1992 book “Snow Crash,” it took some time before we saw really ambitious projects. The video game Second Life was the project that broke the barrier. Living your life away from your real, everyday life, is still a novel concept, let alone in the 2000s. You were able to mingle with other players, but gambling was strictly forbidden.
Since every metaverse will exist online, any introduction of gambling would technically be an online casino. And because everyone can choose how they look and sound in the metaverse, it will be hard to spot minors that are trying to get involved in online casino gameplay. How will their age be verified? Will all metaverse citizens have to send proof of identity because of this? What about privacy?
This is even without even mentioning the issue of problem gambling. How will recovering addicts and those seeking help seek refuge in a virtual world? These are all issues that are barely being handled in the real universe, and they will definitely need to be handled if we are to have a functioning multiverse.
How will we gamble?
Traditional nights out that involve venturing out to a casino will be long gone. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are a big part of the metaverse concept, and they’re poised to be even bigger gaming from the comfort of your living room will be completely normal. And it seems like we’re at a perfect point to start seeing new things.
You can already play Live Monopoly, a live-streamed game that combines game shows, slots, and the iconic Monopoly board game. Animations, special effects, and enticing interior design like that will surely boil over to the metaverse, too. Multipliers will also spice up the action, much like they do in Monopoly Live Gambling.
From a practical point of view, there might be some health issues involved. Firstly, there’s the physical part of the equation, mainly one’s posture. Even today, sitting at online poker tables can ruin your back after some time. And that’s just with a basic interface and your normal, everyday poker bets. Think about how many players will sit too much when they’re in a virtual world, basically.
The full effects of metaverse gambling are yet to be seen, but some problems are due to arise due to the very nature of the activity itself – it’s addicting. Even though playing at casinos in a 3D computer world isn’t the real thing, it’s as close as you can get to going to a real casino without doing so. Virtual money is one potential solution, but just like loot boxes in AAA games, it can create bad habits.
Also, what about hackers manipulating games and, perhaps, forging casino chips? If people in Vegas can fool casinos with just a can of paint and a few fake chips, you can rest assured that there will be malicious individuals in the metaverse, too. Unless there’s a major jump in cybersecurity, there will be breaches, duplications, and cheating early on. It’s up to the regulators, casino operators, and metaverse owners to resolve these problems together.
Legal and financial bumps in the road
How will gambling even be regulated in each metaverse? Will there be gambling-only worlds, or will there be a one-size-fits-all approach to regulations? It’s still unknown how the whole thing will be approached. From one point of view, there’s no denying the educational and social benefits of the metaverse. But from another, it’s so hard to effectively define it, which will prove to be an even bigger issue for regulators. How do you set rules for a world where everything is possible and doable?
Then, there’s also the issue of processing payments. Any financial services provider has to jump through a myriad of legal hoops just to be able to expand their services. It’s still unknown how banking platforms will handle their own existence in a world accessible from literally anywhere on the globe. Will some users be left out because they won’t have any way to make an online deposit? How will, let’s say, PayPal or Skrill tackle such a challenge?
Whether or not the metaverse will alienate people from one another is yet to be seen. What’s certain is that it holds some amazing opportunities. Online casinos are one of them, but there’s still lots to do before we see a product that’s both safe and usable.
Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.