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VIRTUAL REALITY AND GAMBLING: WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE OF GAMING?

George Miller

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emerging trends and challenges facing the future of the games industry
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With games such as Destiny and Overwatch, along with sleek new models of consoles being released every other day, it seems as though gaming has finally come into its own. In recent years, the entire gaming culture has prospered, and we seem to be living in the golden age of gaming and possibly gambling.

So many of the pillars that hold up gaming as a phenomenon have grown comfortable over the years. Developers churn out first-person shooters like Battlefield between free roaming RPGs such as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare as though they’re on a conveyor belt. This has led to gamers bemoaning the “sameness” of this year’s blockbusters, with the likes of For Honor earning mere moments in the spotlight before being quickly cast aside. What gaming needs is the “next big thing” to hit the market and shake up a landscape that’s grown stagnant over the last few months. The question is: what?

THOSE OF US LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE EXPERIENCED VIRTUAL REALITY AT SOME STAGE IN OUR LIVES WILL RECOGNISE THE “WOW” FACTOR ATTACHED TO HEADGEAR SUCH AS THE OCULUS AND HTC VIVE AND THE AMAZEMENT OF STEPPING INTO AN ALTERNATE REALITY.

There’s no avoiding the fact that virtual reality (VR) has arrived and it’s here for its fair share of the market. Those of us lucky enough to have experienced VR at some stage in our lives will recognise the “wow” factor attached to headgear such as the Oculus and HTC Vive and the amazement of stepping into an alternate reality. Imagine the thrill of a zombie horror, where you look around to see nothing but faint darkness around you while looking down at your own hands you find yourself carrying a gun and flashlight. This is the level of immersion VR can provide, taking gamers one step closer into the shoes of our on-screen heroes.

Fortunately, the fall in price of these systems, the creation of wearable controllers and the recognition by developers that VR is the future, have allowed games of true substance to emerge. The Lab, for example, started as a Valve Corporation play-pen and grew to become one of Steam’s few games with “overwhelmingly positive” reviews.

Of course, there’s much more to the gaming than just technological advancements. Consider developments within the games themselves: in particular, one of the most disappointing aspects of highly-rated games today, microtransactions. These are low cost add-ons that are optional for a player to purchase. Typically in the range of 50c to 5 euro, they often unlock new levels or features on mobile games, or more cosmetic features such as a new colour of armour in larger games. Candy Crush infamously thrived on these so called “microtransactions” offering defeated players another chance to play after waiting one hour or immediately at the low-low cost of 99c.

Some prefer a one-off payment for your games, while others like how microtransactions offer the opportunity to play a game after multiple smaller payments. What we can all agree is that certainty surrounding exactly what you’re purchasing is vital to the experience. Or at least, it was. Nowadays however, microtransactions serve as an innocent placeholder for one of the most toxic aspects of modern gaming, and one of the greatest challenges facing its future: gambling.

Fifa: Ultimate Team has created its own subculture surrounding gambling in recent years. Players are offered the opportunity to part with their hard-earned cash in exchange for “points,” which can then be used to purchase player packs, akin to the booster-pack style of beloved trading card games. While seeming innocent on the surface, digging deeper reveals many of the problems models such as this instigate.

The random chance aspect of purchasing packs creates a pay-to-win culture, one not usually found in games with a 60+ euro price tag. While a fraction of the player base will pay for packs, an even smaller fraction will try again if they’re disappointed with the outcome. In essence, players with deep pockets are that bit more likely to come across a Ronaldo or Messi just by throwing money at the system. It’s the monumental issue with this ever-growing trend which is really concerning: this is gambling in an environment rated ‘E for Everyone’. Children are playing these games completely unsupervised, with mammy or daddy’s credit card in hand. While that itself is a failure on the part of the parents, any system that thrives from underage gambling will need to change soon.

In the past 20 years, changing technology has completely changed the world around us, including the gaming experience and the next 20 years hold even more possibilities for change. With both exciting tech developments and fresh challenges to overcome, the games industry is certainly set for an interesting future ahead.

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Gambling in the USA

PA Gaming Control Board to Hold Public Hearing on February 20th for Parx Casino License Renewal

Zoltan Tundik

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 to gather evidence, including public comment, on the renewal of the Category 1 Slot Machine Operator’s license for Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., operator of the Parx Casino in Bucks County.

The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers at the Bensalem Township Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Complete information on the hearing, including links to sign up to present oral comment at the hearing or to provide written comment prior to the hearing, is on the Board’s web site, www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov, under its Quick Links section of the home page. The deadline for registration to speak at this hearing is noon on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

Written comments can be mailed, with a postmark no later than Tuesday, February 19th to:

PA Gaming Control Board 
P.O. Box 69060
Harrisburg, PA 17106
Attention: Board Clerk

Comments can also be faxed prior to that deadline to 717-265-7416 or e-mailed to boardclerk@pa.gov.

Pursuant to section 1326 of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, all licenses shall be subject to renewal every five years.  The renewal application must include an update of the information since its last renewal.

To implement the renewal requirement, the Board utilizes a two-step process:

  • First, the February 20th public hearing will be held before the Director of the PGCB’s Office of Hearings and Appeals for the purpose of receiving documentary evidence, hearing testimony and building a record upon which the Board will base its licensing decision.  The hearing record, along with a report from the Director of Hearings and Appeals, will be transmitted to the Board.
  • The second step is to hold a separate public hearing in Harrisburg at a later date where Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. representatives will offer oral arguments and Board members can ask additional questions.

At the renewal hearing, the burden is on the renewal applicant to establish and demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, its eligibility and suitability for renewal of the gaming license last renewed in November 2014.  During the hearings, the renewal applicant will be given the opportunity to demonstrate, among other things, its good character, honesty, and integrity; compliance with its statement of conditions; tax revenue generated; jobs created; amenities added since the last renewal; success in implementing its diversity plan; and involvement in the surrounding communities.

Following these proceedings, the Board will then be able to determine whether the licensee remains eligible and suitable consistent with the laws of the Commonwealth and are otherwise qualified to have the license renewed for a five-year period.

All questions that are not press-related should be referred to the PGCB’s Office of Hearings and Appeals at (717) 265-7451.

About the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board:

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is tasked to oversee all aspects of the state’s casino industry, along with oversight of new gaming initiatives created through amendments to the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act recently approved by the signing of Act 42 of 2017. To date, the PGCB regulates the play within the Commonwealth of Fantasy Sports Contests along with four casino operators offering Sports Wagering. Additional new gaming initiatives are expected to launch in the coming months.

The Commonwealth’s casino industry currently consists of 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos in operation, along with the two smaller resort casinos.  These facilities collectively employ 17,000 people and annually generate approximately $1.4 billion in tax revenue from slot machine and table games play. The largest portion of that money is used for property tax reduction to Pennsylvania homeowners.

Additional information about both the PGCB’s gaming regulatory efforts and Pennsylvania’s gaming industry can be found at gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov. You can also follow the agency on Twitter by choosing @PAGamingControl.

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Industry News

Police nabs 12 persons for kidnapping US businessman in Costa Rica

Niji Ng

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Police nabs 12 persons for kidnapping US businessman in Costa Rica
Photo Source: thegreekobserver.com
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

The police arrested 12 persons for allegedly kidnapping an American businessman in Costa Rica. The persons were arrested in Costa Rica and Spain.

The assailants kidnapped William Sean Creighton Kopko, the owner of 5Dimes, an online gambling platform, on September 24 in Costa Rica.

Kopko’s family agreed to pay the ransom of the Bitcoin equivalent of $950,800 after his kidnappers made several calls threatening to kill him.

But once the payment was made, the kidnappers stopped communicating with Kopko’s family and he is still missing.

After the kidnapping members of the gang fled to Cuba, the Civil Guard statement said. On November 9, Costa Rica informed the Civil Guard that three suspects had left Cuba and entered Spain through the Madrid-Barajas airport. The suspects who travelled to Spain were arrested after they rented a house in the city of Zaragoza, according to the news release.

Video from Costa Rican investigators shows authorities raiding a house on Friday in Costa Rica. That raid lead to the arrest of nine others allegedly involved in the kidnapping scheme.

The US State Department has not posted any travel advisories regarding Costa Rica, but there is a warning on its website that crime “is increasing in Costa Rica and U.S. citizens are frequent victims.”

American Carla Stefaniak was found dead after she went missing in Costa Rica in November. A security guard at the Airbnb where Stefaniak was staying was arrested and is a suspect in her killing.

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Gambling in the USA

New Illinois Governor discusses gambling expansion

Niji Ng

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New Illinois Governor discusses gambling expansion
JB Pritzke, the 43rd governor of Illinois. / Photo Source: politico.com
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

The governor that started his term on Monday has discussed a possible gaming expansion in the state.

The newly elected Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has already initiated discussion on the expansion of casinos in the state. He said that gambling expansion will boost the state’s revenues.

Pritzker seems to have identified gambling expansion as one of the ways to balance the state budget and help pay for a capital bill is through gaming expansion. He also said that now that the Supreme Court has struck down PASPA, the federal act that prevented states from offering sports betting, Illinois has a bigger chance to pass a bill.

“We could implement that in the state as one example. There certainly are opportunities for us to expand casino gaming in the state,” Pritzker said. “So those are a couple of ways for us to expand gaming. Balancing the budget is very important, it’s not just about those revenue enhancements. It’s also about bringing efficiencies to state government.”

Moreover, he said that new casinos could be located near the state border in order to prevent that money from leaving the state. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has recently called for a casino in his city: “I don’t disagree with you there’s been some cannibalisation within the state and there’s a limited amount of dollars that could exist in the state, but I also know this has to do with geography. Where you put a casino matters to how many dollars might flow from places they haven’t seen dollars flow before… We ought to be thinking about how do we keep the dollars here that are being expended in other states.”

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