BCLC looking into VR Casino Games for Playnow

BC Canada exploring virtual casino games for real money.

There’s a huge difference between the real world and virtual world. However, the two realms collide when it comes to real money gambling. Aside from scenery and excessive crowds, there’s not much that separates land-based and virtual reality casino games.

Virtual Casino Games for Real Money

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is taking the same line of thought into its latest endeavor. The provincial gaming regulator said in a statement this week that they’re exploring the possibility of launching VR casino games on the Playnow.ca website.

A report this morning in BC-CTV News reveals that BCLC is already negotiating a deal with Archiact Interactive, a virtual reality software design firm with offices in Vancouver and Shanghai, China. The current deal on the table would see BCLC investing $250,000 into a virtual ‘escape room‘ architecture.

Players would be able to access the game via the BCLC’s interactive gaming website. Using VR technology, they would be given a time limit in which to navigate a virtual space, solving challenges and deciphering clues to escape from the room.

This isn’t exactly a form of gambling. Ostensibly, players would pay to use the software – or perhaps pay to unlock progressive levels following a free trial demo. Or, maybe they will pay to play, winning a prize if they escape fast enough. The exact details are unclear at this time. But BCLC did admit that virtual casino games could be part of the package, with the appropriate approval.

BC Virtual Casino Games for Real Money

CTV wasn’t able to get too much information out of BCLC or Arhciact Interactive prior to thismorning’s publication. The software company did not response to their emails, while BCLC officials waved off the majority of their questions.

What they did find out from Lara Gerrits, a media management spokesperson for BCLC, is that virtual casino games are on their to-do list. And based on her statement, they may already be seeking advisement on the issue from higher-ups.

“Further development, testing and approvals from our regulator, the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, are required,” Gerrits told reporters. “Additionally, the Gaming Control Act stipulates that the minister responsible must provide written approval for new games or lottery schemes before they go into operation.”

So essentially, it will be quite some time before BCLC goes virtual. But the potential is there, and the deal making is already underway.

Virtual Casino Games Come With Real Risks

Not everyone was thrilled by the news. Clinical cyber-psychologist and Canada Research Chair Dr. Stephane Bouchard believes it’s a terrible idea. Having previously researched VR gambling and published a paper on its effects on gambling addicts, Dr. Bouchard is worried that it will only serve to proliferate problem gambling in BC.

“It’s amazing how real virtual reality is to a gambling addict,” explained Bouchard, whose extensive research in VR shows that gambling addicts experience the exact same cravings in a virtual casino as they do in a land-based casino.

Dr. Bouchard uses VR casinos as a treatment method, helping patients deal with the compulsive urge in a safe, risk-free environment. But virtual gambling won’t offer the same level of GameSense presence found in BC’s land-based casinos. The floor won’t be teeming with real people who can recognize and intervene on a problem as it’s occurring.

But the BCLC is looking at its own evidence, which clearly shows that its lottery generated $23 million less in the last fiscal year, while the online sector rose by $22 million. Online and mobile gambling is clearly on the rise, and many analysts believe that virtual casino games for real money will be the next big wave of the future. Presumably, gaming regulators are trying to get in on that vertical from the ground floor.

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