What Are Metaverse Casinos & How Do They Work


Last October, the internet’s favorite android, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the looming launch of the Metaverse, making this phrase trend almost instantly, entering it into the public’s lexicon. However, something that few people knew at that time was that this term had been around for almost three decades, coined by American sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. Moreover, that platforms similar to the one Zuckerberg presented already existed online.

Linguistics-wise, the metaverse is a portmanteau, a blend of the words meta and universe. Nowadays, in an online context, it is something used to describe a 3D environment where users can interact and transact with each other. According to that definition, the famous multimedia site, Second Life, may get classified as the internet’s initial metaverse. It was a virtual shared space with its currency, the Linden Dollar, boasting a user base of over a million people.

At this moment, at least until Facebook’s version pops up, metaverse now primarily refers to platforms that utilize the Ethereum blockchain to power their economies, featuring rough graphics by modern video game standards. Facebook’s iteration promises to implement VR. That is what already active metaverse like Somnium Space and Decentraland are pioneering and trying to perfect.

Below, we will first explain how metaverses operate, going into how their economies function, before diving into the casino establishments running in these virtual worlds.

How Do People Transact in Metaverses

Most popular metaverses utilize the Ethereum blockchain as the basis for their economies. What does that mean? Well, it means that they have currencies that are ERC-20 tokens. For example, Decentraland, which is probably the most established platform of this kind, along with the Sandbox, has the token MANA as its currency. That is an ERC-20 one available for purchase on most top crypto exchanges. For Decentraland users to function in this digital world, they need to buy MANA tokens using other cryptos or fiat money and have some in their wallets. Once they do, they can get in-world items on the primary or secondary marketplaces.

One of the things available for purchase in metaverses are also parts of the maps used in these worlds. That is right. Anyone can find plots of virtual land listed on marketplaces for sale, and estates have gotten auctioned off during most of these platforms’ initial coin offerings. Once someone owns a piece of land in a metaverse, they can do so as they please with their property. That means they can build structures on top of their plots and run businesses from or inside them. And that is what many have done.

Everything in these metaverses is an NFT, a non-fungible token, while their currencies are fungible digital assets akin to standard crypto coins.

In Decentraland, various stores, nightclubs, museums, arcades, and even casinos exist, operating pretty much the same as their real-world counterparts, with more on the last listed venues in the following subheading.

The Emergence of Metaverse Casinos

You may have heard of ICE Poker, Decentraland’s metaverse casino. We mentioned it since it made the news cycle in February this year by posting revenues of $7.5 million for the three preceding months. Decentraland officially got off the ground in February 2020, even though it got conceived in 2015, run by the nonprofit Decentraland Foundation. We forgot to mention that almost all metaverses are DAOs. A DAO is an acronym for decentralized autonomous organization and means that these platforms get operated using policies voted upon by the users that inhabit them.

On September 2201, Decentraland’s DAO invested in the development of a casino establishment called ICE Poker that got up and running the next month. It is what many call a Web3 gaming venue. To test their luck and skill at cards, at Decentraland’s ICE Poker spot, gamblers must first buy NFT wearables, sold on places like OpenSea. Those with these items get a daily allotment of Chips they can use to play poker and fulfill various challenges daily. Completing the challenges leads to XP accumulation and earning ICE tokens. Gamblers can burn their tokens to update to more exclusive wearables and get better bonus accumulation ratios.

Six months before ICE Poker opened its doors, Atari had announced that they would branch off into the metaverse gambling sphere, investing in a casino in Decentraland’s Vegas District, one that would also feature Atari-inspired games. Nonetheless, the renowned game producer has since pulled out of this project. The Tominoya Casino and Chateau Satoshi are other active gaming locales in Decentraland that are functioning well, employing people to staff their virtual pits packed with traditional gambling products.

The Sand Vegas Casino is a similar property in the Sandbox metaverse. And SlotieVerse is an announced platform that aims to bring a Las Vegas-like metaverse gaming experience with virtual venues that will host live concerts, rewards programs, eye-catching décor, and more. So, it is safe to say that the metaverse casino trend is here to stay.

Are Metaverse Casinos a Danger to Crypto Gambling Sites?

Right now, not really. Most do not even offer actual gambling. When ICE poker did, it had around two hundred daily users. Once it pivoted towards the play-to-earn model, its player count blew up to twelve thousand patrons per day, accounting for 60% of Decentraland’s traffic. You also have to understand that there are also moral issues with metaverse gaming, as not only adults have avatars on these platforms.

While most people like to make a big fuss about anything novel, in most instances, it takes years for something to go mainstream. Take Bitcoin gambling as an example. It took around five-six years before this section of the gambling industry began to notch sizeable revenue numbers. Metaverse casinos are still young, they don’t have enough of a user base, and from what we can tell, there are no high-rollers that roam these virtual worlds. Now, at least.

In the years to come, these digital establishments may catch some steam, but let us remind everyone that Microgaming presented virtual roulette six years ago, and multiple for-fun poker VR platforms can get used online. Yet, the real money offering is still not here. So, no one knows what tomorrow brings. We can only bet on it, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

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