While video games like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto have featured poker and casino games before, it was usually in offline versions. That all changed recently when game developer Rockstar announced the launch of an online casino within Grand Theft Auto V.
The in-game casino advert says “You’ve heard the rumours. You want to believe them, and there’s only one way to find out.” The much-anticipated update brought the Diamond Casino and Resort to the game, where players can own the casino and also play in it. Poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot machines are on offer, as well as virtual horse racing.
Video games that contain gambling content have become a much-debated topic, with many unsure how the game will work with gambling regulations across certain regions. Recent controversy has surrounded a gambling aspect of other video games, namely loot boxes.
Loot boxes are packages, sometimes purchased with real money, where the player receives a range of items. Some of the items are rarer than others and can be sold in-game for real money. The catch is, the player never knows what’s in the box before purchasing it.
This new aspect raised the inevitable question; can loot boxes be viewed as a form of gambling? Many countries are discussing ways to regulate loot boxes. Belgium has already proclaimed “game over” for loot boxes, and the topic is still being discussed in the UK and the US.
Grand Theft Auto is only available to those 18 and over (technically), so underage gambling shouldn’t be an issue legally. In certain countries, the online casino update has not been rolled out due to their gambling regulations. However, there’s much interest in how this aspect of the game will work and whether it will change the way online casinos are accessed.
A player will need an in-game membership for the Diamond Casino and Resort, with a two-tier system of standard and VIP access available. Games will be played with virtual currency, and the in-game currency can be purchased using real money. When winnings are cashed in, players will receive in-game currency, which can be used in the casino. This virtual currency also buys players’ clothes, weapons, and other virtual items.
One To Watch
The online casino launch in Grand Theft Auto V took place on 23rd July, so the format is still incredibly new. One thing is for sure though; the online casino community and gambling authorities will be watching closely to see how the game is received and how it develops.