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The tech world has always been obsessed with the next big thing. Whether that was the advancement of the basic home computer, the release of the first mobile phone, or the chance to step foot on Mars – every day, finding what could be next while on the search for new technology is never a dull experience. While not a new concept, the metaverse is the latest landscape to be conquered and 2021 is the moment that many tech giants have chosen to embrace it. But what does that mean for the online gambling industry? What is the Metaverse? The metaverse is a mimic of real life (or a twin universe) that combines the online world with our own via the use of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and social media. Naturally, cryptocurrencies are an important part of the metaverse as people aim to remain as anonymous as possible when spending money to protect themselves and their cash. 3D avatars, connecting via virtual spaces, gaming in a virtual world where you can interact with your friends face to face while being on the other end of the world – all of this and so much more can be achieved via the metaverse. Or at least, that’s the hope. For many years, the idea of a virtual world much like our own (but better) has intrigued inquisitive minds. In fact, the term “metaverse” was coined by a sci-fi writer named Neal Stephenson in 1992 in his novel, Snow Crash. In the novel, a 3D world was used to interact with avatar versions of human beings as a metaphor for reality. Facebook and Microsoft Embrace the Metaverse Some are calling it the modern space race – who will be the first to conquer the metaverse? Facebook rocked the world when it recently announced that it would be fully embracing the metaverse and cemented the idea by changing the larger company’s name to Meta. Only days later, Microsoft released their plans for a more immersive Teams experience with 3D avatars and meeting spaces. While many are disappointed that the metaverse’s first real implementation will be for work meetings and presentations, it’s only the start. No matter how the technology is used, it’s apparent that creating virtual versions of ourselves and uploading them to a “twin” world of our own has been the aim for many years now. But where did the obsession begin? The Metaverse: Inspired by Sci-fi The concept of using AR and VR in everyday life has long inspired movie creators to make that dream a reality. Minority Report and that infamous scene where Tom Cruise navigates the world around him using a virtual reality ‘map’ is one that has been recreated again and again. Tony Stark uses similar tech to create his Ironman suit in the Avengers movie by creating, conceptualising and eventually sharing his work all via an AR interface. Fans of Ready Player One, the popular novel that became a film in 2018, will recognise living life in a virtual world. Rather than having AR or VR become one with our world, Ready Player One shows what life could be life if we spent all of our time online instead. Finally, one of the largest mobile games in the world, Pokémon GO, lets players experience AR in a fun and easy to use manner. Players can choose to have the Pokémon they’re attempting to catch appear in the room with them, rather than just appearing on screen. While this is all optional, it still makes AR a normal part of life for those who use it daily. The Future of Online Gambling with AR and VR Anyone who’s been in the online gambling industry for even a short amount of time can tell you that the future is always the aim. What’s next on the cards for technology and casino games? Developers want to know where to focus their talents and expertise. Staying one step ahead of the rest of the world is where casino Game developers thrive. Even the metaverse has always been something they’ve seen as the next big thing. For many years now, analysts and experts have said that VR and AR are where the online casino world will blossom. Up until recently, however, it was nothing more than a gimmick. But now that tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft are pouring more and more cash into making the metaverse a real-world reality, the advancements for every other industry will begin to flow. Perhaps it’s been the recent worldwide lockdown and subsequent need for human interaction on a new level, or maybe the world is just ready for the metaverse – but things are advancing much faster than was ever predicted. Many believed that the metaverse would only really become a reality within the next 10 years or more. But instead, it’s here. It’s new but it’s here and the future is bright – for everyone, including online gambling enthusiasts. Play with VR Today Currently, augmented reality is not really on the table for online gambling just yet but VR has been embraced with a cautious hand. SlotsMillion Casino launched the first ever virtual reality casino in 2015. While it’s still functional today, it’s not utilised as players realised that it simply wasn’t sustainable. The futuristic and heavy graphics meant spending hours with VR goggles on and this can cause some users to feel ill. Others simply don’t want to be tied to their computers, instead opting for mobile gambling. In 2021, the shift is starting to take place with Evolution releasing the first-ever VR live casino game. Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt in VR combines the excitement of playing an online slot while interacting with a live host, all set in a virtual reality. It may not be as immersive as the metaverse plans to unleash one day but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.