We here at Vita Player always try to keep one eye on the horizon, so we’re constantly asking, “What’s next?” for the gaming world. A crossover of sorts between the video game and gambling industries is an idea that’s been in the pipeline for years. While significant parallels have always existed between the two worlds, the cultural line that has always divided them seems to be fading away, slowly but surely.
Last year, a San Francisco startup called Skillz launched the first ever platform for real money gambling on mobile games in the US. Sidestepping tricky government legislation laws prohibiting gambling on games of chance (ie: poker, roulette, etc.), Skillz focuses on arcade-style games of skill, a gaming sector which is already legal in 36 states in the US. The company is becoming a major player in the online world, as its games currently reach over 25 million mobile gamers, and Skillz CEO Andrew Paradise sees even more potential for growth.
“There’s a sweet spot in between betting, real money gaming, and mobile gaming,” Paradise says in an interview with Forbes. “There’s a lot of thirst for betting in games of chance, but we see this great need for games of skill, as well.”
So now that real money wagers can be placed on a handful of games for mobile devices, what’s next? The logical next step would seem to be mainstream gaming. Now, this isn’t to say that fans of mega-releases like the Madden or Call of Duty franchises will soon be able to place bets on individual games or matches, as awesome as the very idea of that may be. One major release may already be laying the groundwork for the future: the Grand Theft Auto series. Past versions of the game (San Andreas) allow the user to access their character’s gambling skills in order to earn more money. Small hints and easter eggs in the newest version of the game (like this) suggest that upcoming downloadable content will allow players to do the same. If the US market wanted to integrate real money gambling into the modern video gaming world, what better platform than the GTA franchise?
The future of gaming is fluid and constantly changing, never going in one definitive direction. Few things are certain. But the statistics regarding global online gambling are telling. According to H2 Gambling Capital, one of the gambling industry’s leading consultant and data collectors, the market for online gambling is expecting to increase at a rate of 30 percent within the next three years.
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And the online community is reacting in kind. Web-based gambling hub InterCasino has expanded rapidly, offering far more choices than your traditional card and chance games. With a wide variety of games based on some of America’s favorite characters (Batman!) and movies (Ferris Bueller anyone?), it’s clear that online casinos are preparing to make major moves. It seems to be only a matter of time before games enabled with real money gambling features start showing up on our mobile phones and, inevitably, on our gaming systems.