Grand Theft Auto's Diamond Casino Means That Cash Can Be Turned Into Chips
Source: Wikimedia The fifth iteration of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise has been hotly anticipated. Not only are there plenty of improvements to the sub-games within the free-roaming universe the developers have created, but there will be a significant new addition. Grand Theft Auto V will feature its own casino where you can hang out and play some of the best-known table games. The new gaming feature was launched just as regulators started to grapple with whether or not in-game wagers should be treated as gambling with the same rules that an online casino must follow. What does Grand Theft Auto tell us about the state of the video game industry and its relationship with gambling?
The Diamond Casino
Rockstar Games, the developers behind Grand Theft Auto, has always courted a little controversy. It helps to sell games, after all. Even back in the 2-D era, when GTA first launched in the late 1990s, it featured plenty of violence and criminality. The game was based on stealing cars, taking part in robberies and even conducting assassinations back then and these key elements remain part of the franchise's culture. Given that gangs, crime culture and adult-related content continued to be the mainstay of GTA as it moved into the 3-D and HD eras, there was little doubt that Rockstar Games would develop a casino for players at some point. Of course, casinos have featured in earlier versions of the game before. However, these were nothing more than a backdrop to the action that was taking place. The big difference with GTA V is that the casino will feature proper games that you can actually play. What's more significant is that players will be able to buy chips with real money to wager with at the in-universe Diamond Casino. In other words, GTA's players will be able to gamble their hard-earned cash in a very real sense. Even though the game has always previously been about escapism and the ability to carry out acts in a consequence-free environment, the fact that GTA will allow players to gamble carries with it a substantial change. It poses something of a problem for regulators, too. Source: Wikimedia
GTA's In-Game Currency
There are plenty of video games that allow players to make in-game purchases these days. In this, GTA V is not breaking any new ground. Players can use their game account to purchase 'dollars' in San Andreas, where the game is set, and to spend them on upgrades. This could be for a specific model of car or to augment their arsenal of weaponry, for example. The game is restricted to adults only, so where is the harm you may ask? Of course, any game that has the ability to make purchases in it can feel like a bit of a cheat. Players can simply buy progress in the game rather than relying on their skill and cunning to achieve the same rewards. However, this comes down to personal choice. So long as Rockstar Games doesn't make it impossible to enjoy all of the in-game content without spending money, then players can choose to do as they please. However, when it comes to in-game gambling things get a little trickier. Firstly, what is to stop a younger player from logging on to GTA V and heading to the Diamond Casino within the game in order to place a few bets? At a reputable online casino, various checks are made to ensure players are over 18 before they can gamble but GTA is very well-known as a game that is played by teenagers who have not yet seen their 18th birthday despite the supposed age restriction. This matter alone places gaming regulators in several countries in something of a quandary. However, GTA V creates even more of a challenge for the authorities, because players will be able to gamble on blackjack, horse racing and poker in GTA V as their character rather than themselves. Of course, all Rockstar has done is to allow players the opportunity to buy in-game chips with real money which is not illegal. Will the developers find that their casino breaks the rules on gambling when it is launched despite the fact that only virtual chips are being wagered? Only time will tell how regulators will act and whether Rockstar has done enough to reassure its critics that the sort of gambling support you would expect at a good casino has been replicated in-universe.