Spoiler alert: This article contains insightful forecasts that will shape tomorrow's gambling. Embrace the controversially graphic descriptions. Bet on them, if you happen to have any bitcoins on you. It's the future into which you raise your children and your children's children. So give the idea a bit of brain space.
Here you are, comfortably leaning into the cushioned driver's seat, Las Vegas' Strip glaring out of a sun-powered cacophony of neon lights and sounds, your Uber self-driving car heading out at full speed towards the new gambling den in town. On the outside, it's brick-and-mortar all right. But enter the premises, and you are propelled into the casino of the future.
Diamonds Are Forever: Las Vegas 2050
Less than eighty years into the digital revolution, a Wall-E type robot will greet you with a fresh 3-D print batch of casino tokens and a refreshingly high-tech libation.
Care for a centrifuged Highlander with a dash of liquid nitrogen, sir?
Drones will be parachuted into air surveillance, scanning for cheats or otherwise serving the appetite of hungry gamblers who will order genetically-modified pizzas and Casinos Royale (we predict that Ian Fleming's first 007 novels will have been flipped by marketers into a burger with a license to kill in the near future).
While one-armed bandits will still spin their cherry-colored reels for the benefit of nostalgics, you will step right into the chamber of annihilated gravity to climb the walls for an upside-down game of baccarat.
Affirmative. Future technology will dig its way in the end to the foundations of Einstein's favorite universal force and cancel the pull of gravity at the push of a button and the whim of the gambler.
VR, a sci-fi dream of the sort Leonardo da Vinci once held about the possibilities of man-made flight, will materialize a Frontier-themed poker game right under your eyes.
Lone wolves will become extinct in the casino landscape, their last howls over a jackpot at the pokies silenced by the cheerful high-fives of packs of gamblers who will share the game through wireless-enabled consoles.
Elvis Presley impersonators and glitzy pop stars will have been a thing of the past, a long retired kitsch, replaced by Korean e-Sports whiz kids and League of Legends tournaments on holographic screens the size of football stadiums.
The cards sharks will have also sunk into Las Vegas' seedy underbelly, defeated by the poker-loving Libratus machine, the Maverick AI.
Oh, and did I mention all this is happening on Elon Musk's cosmic brainchild, somewhere on the orbital wheel of fortune that are the rings of Saturn?
If you climb into a time machine and journey 33 years into the future, you can envisage any of life's developments and technological progress around the gambling table.
The no man's land between scientific fact and science fiction stretches less vast and less unconquerable by the day.
The Casinos of the Future Go All In On Millennials
Gambling operators are not slacking in their efforts to keep land-based slot machines and green poker tables relevant to future generations. Casino technology initiatives are a top priority.
Read about the industry's crusade to push e-Sports to the new generation, here.
The millennials stand out as a first hurdle. According to intensive anthropological research, they are stubborn and resistant to blatant PR, a bit wobbly and furiously unpredictable in their choice of fads, not to mention smartphone-addicted and enticed less by money than a special brand of existential reward.
All in all, millennials are less fun to marketers than a bag of beans. And the sentiment is mutual. Seen as artifacts of a bygone era, slot machines based on chance are no loner drawing the crowds to test their fortunes.
The time has finally come when games of luck have lost their muster. As painfully rationale beings, millennials dismiss wheels of fortune or old fashioned pokies that operate on randomness.
The First Skill-based Slot Machine: Blame Not Luck For Your Loss, But Yourself!
So for casinos to stay in business, the tech-wizards employ their best sleight of hands. Scientific Games has rushed to premiere its first “slot machine with a skill-based bonus”.
Space Invaders Slot Machine starts as your classic electronic one-armed bandit with a tip of the hat to 80's arcade design. But then, you get to the bonus round.
Now you have the possibility to take your cosmic destiny into your own hands. And if you lose, you can't blame that black cat you tripped into on your way to the casino or that damn bad luck that's been chasing you since you first saw the light of day.
No, the only one to take the blame is going to be you. No wonder you always find millennials down in the dumps!
Facial Geometry Scan in Macau's Casino ATMs
Biometric facial recognition systems have been scanning and analyzing the faces of casino guests for ever now. The smartest of the technology could even identify the undesirables against the databases of other fellow casinos.
In early 2010, the surveillance landscape was like Edgar J.Hoover's Peeping-Tom days all over again.
Coming in fresh from the tech-oven and among the most worrying casino gaming industry trends, ATM facial-recognition software in casino haven Macau is one of the latest among casino technology initiatives to generally annoy punters to the point of “taking it personally”.
That's mainly because of the obligation to stare into a camera for six seconds in order to have your identity confirmed sounds a bit like Huxley's Brave New World knocking on your door at midnight, sending cold-sweat chills down your spine. Beware, gatekeepers, you're losing control of this!
As always the case, the Macau Monetary Authority justifies the face-reading devices as a sort of necessary infringement on liberties aimed solely at fighting money laundering schemes and increasing bank security.
The software will be initially implanted into China UnionPay’s existing 1,200 ATMs in Macau.
For now, punters who remain on the right side of the law are safest playing online casinos in the intimacy of their homes.
As the industry spins out of all predictability patterns with the introduction of cutting-edge technology and the momentum of the smartphone craze, TakeBonus.com likes to keep a balance between classic gambling and the pros of digital developments.
Con tricks play more into the domain of the big players in town- like your government.
When Bots Can Bluff
Mirroring the historical battle of will between IBM supercomputer Deep Blue and chess champion Garry Kasparov, The Brains vs. Libratus poker tournament pits four human pros against one Artificial Intelligence machine in a Heads Up No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker game.
In 2015, humans got the upper hand, leaving the creators of the AI Maverick, two computer science researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with a chip on their shoulder.
For the last two years, they've been tinkering on its meta-algorithm diligently and, boasting the crazed dedication of a Doctor Frankenstein, researchers have incorporated human traits into their AI.
- Reinforcement learning, a method toddlers use, based on simple trial-and-error.
- Counterfactual regret minimization- Throughout months of training its hands at poker, throughout trillions of lost bets and countless aces in the hole, Libratus learned how to track its regrets and ultimately base its moves on past errors and wishful thinking.
- End-game solver- Libratus learned while it was playing.
- Rewiring its algorithms- In order for the AI's play patterns to escape detection, its researchers have indeed reset the machine algorithms overnight. Foul play? No one dared to say it aloud.
In January 2017, as Libratus bested the world's leading poker champions by $1.76 million in chips, the future of casinos was laid down on the table in clearer terms than ever:
Bluffing was no longer the exclusive preserve of human beings.
Online Poker Bots and Robot Dealers
Libratus may not pay a visit to an online gambler anytime soon (the costs would be too prohibitive), but digital casinos dispense their own army of bots to secure the house edge.
If you've come across an unnervingly unbeatable player, it could be that you've made contacts with a program whose mission is to take money from the poor or slower-witted players.
However, poker bots won't be too widespread online since most sites have the necessary technology to detect and eliminate such cheating intruders.
In land-based casinos, however, a new card dealer plugs into the game. Conceived by Hong Kong-based Paradise Entertainment, Min is a snapshot from Total Recall, a brunette with a figure to envy and a face to inspire trust and friendliness even among the most morose gamblers.
Min can only deal in dealing cards for now, but the brains behind it hope to soon implant a facial recognition software so she can read the faces and the volatile emotions around the poker table.
In the Human Vs. Machine Battle of Will, Where Do the Casinos of the Future Stand?
In the near future, technology is being programmed not only to lead way to an interface with the customer. It is the interface. And even now, it's hard to distinguish science fact from science fiction.
In the end, what will the casinos of the near future look like? The Economist (and many others) bets on the downfall of touch-and-feel casinos to the advantage of touch screen gaming. Industry leaders do their best to prevent land-based gambling venues to become the next Hummer.
After all, when the fate of a Blockbuster Video store is upon you, you hedge your bets, pack your ego, and take captain position of the new trends that drive the industry. The casinos of the future cannot deny the onrush of technological advancements. Or the growth in numbers of the digitally-savvy gamblers who want the machine to join the game just for a chance to beat it to the finish line.