After some setbacks, the last few years have been kinder to the growing online casino industry in the United States. One reason for that is the effort to integrate popular culture.
The phenomenon of tie-ins is not new, with slot games based on a range of movies such as the Dark Knight and Bridesmaids having been around for years, for instance, featuring the theming and video clips. Top artists are embracing online slot technology, too, from stadium rockers Guns N’ Roses to 90s boy band heartthrobs NSYNC and electronic phenomenon Deadmau5.
Financially, online casinos are on the up, and that means a greater range of games. Individual state legislatures have slowly been reintroducing laws that allow legally regulated sites and apps to operate one by one, with a lot of complexities, such as the case brought by tribes in North Dakota claiming exclusive server hosting rights.
In the meantime, far from resting on their laurels, companies have had to stay abreast of cultural and technological developments in order to stay relevant. Changes that focus on players include social media community building and bigger jackpots. On the technical side, we might include live hosting and headset technology. Here are some of the other significant advances.
Live streams of gaming have taken over the industry, and online casino games are right up there with the likes of Valorant and Hearthstone. That should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention since casinos are actively encouraging the phenomenon by engaging with the streamers. Instead of relying on their own content strategy, this is partly a 'farmed-out' approach. Restrictions have been brought in on the popular streaming site Twitch after some controversies, but are still popular. Such phenomena are not purely passive since chatters communicate with one another, and the streamers form communities and share tips and strategies, which in turn inform sites on how people are playing.
A simultaneous outgrowth of the increase in the number of players and the need to be competitive is the swelling of prize draws. More players mean the industry has more money on the one hand, and one way to attract those players is to make larger wins possible. The phenomenon of Jackpot Slots is a prime case in point, where certain versions of the games can have massive payouts.
The main prizes in a slot game will generally include a fixed variety based on a wager multiplied by the line, while progressive prizes are determined instead by whatever is in a communal pot and not on the individual stake you happen to have played. The Foxy Bingo jackpot slots leverage themes as broad as ancient Egypt and the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street that nonetheless build the same pot, which any player might win more or less on depending on the chosen split. A convergence of underlying web technologies and casino innovation, this is one method where increased prize pots are becoming popular, and it’s a continuing trend.
Live Hosted Games
The idea of having a live dealer or game host goes back decades, but it took the proliferation of fast internet connections and sufficiently widespread computational power for them to gain the popularity they enjoy today. Whether it’s a blackjack croupier or a wheel-spinning game, the phenomenon has become a mainstay of modern online casinos and a sort of industry spin on the broader phenomenon of game streaming.
VR and AR
It’s true that Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual reality dreams are on track to continue Meta’s predicted burning of cash as fast as the trees in the area surrounding its headquarters, but that doesn’t mean that the tech has no future. Already there are fully immersive VR casino experiences and popular poker rooms in the anarchic world of VRChat. And while augmented reality means games like Pokémon Go, with amazing cutting-edge stuff from companies like Varjo showing glimpses of how bigger companies like Meta are blurring the lines of VR and AR with ‘mixed reality,’ it’s only a matter of time before those live games become more fully immersive.
Online casinos have always been early, if picky, adopters of technology. Clearly, it’s also a part of their job to know and grow their audience, including by forming partnerships with those in popular media. The future is clearly one where these entwined features continue to produce popular gaming experiences.